Dubbed "Country's Next Queen" by Billboard, rising country star Kelsea Ballerini is breaking records (after records!). And this week, at The 49th Annual CMA Awards, is no exception.
Ballerini is impressively one of four artists who are nominated as a New Artist in addition to another category, a first for the award show since it began in 1967.
In anticipation for her big night, the 22-year-old sweet and sassy songstress recently sat down with Womanista for some #GirlBoss girl talk!
According to Ballerini, she's attended the CMAs twice before, once as a fan — where she "got all dressed up" with her mom and sat in the nosebleeds, and then last year when she was a guest of her label as a newly signed artist.
Early last month, Ballerini was invited to announce the nominations live on Good Morning America alongside rock-icon-turned-country-star Steven Tyler.
Ballerini explains she went into the live telecast with the perspective that she was excited to "tell a bunch of my friends [in the industry] good news," however, "Steven Tyler just — (snaps fingers) — pulled one over on me!"
While reading off the nominees, Ballerini's name was surprisingly announced twice, including Female Vocalist of the Year.
"New Artist is incredible," she says with a smile. "But Female [Artist] is insane! 'Cause I’m up there with people that I grew up listening to." Also nominated for the category are Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, and Lee Ann Womack.
Ballerini will be walking the red carpet with Allie Allen, a beautiful patient she met while attending a Country Cares carnival at St. Jude in Memphis, TN.
"I thought she was an artist. She was so stunning," Ballerini admits. "So I was talking to her, and all of a sudden, she said, 'You know, I’m on my last week of radiation for my brain tumor.'"
Ballerini has kept in contact with Allen and recently learned that "her cancer came back and has spread to her spine and her full brain."
Allen will start Chemotherapy a couple of weeks following the CMAs, after just finishing up her last round (of 33 rounds) of radiation.
"She's 17 years old and she has had to miss out," Ballerini explains sympathetically. "I don’t think anyone should have to do that. So, she’s coming with me as my date! I’m very excited."
Ballerini has already enlisted the help of her makeup artist Meegen and stylist Krista to glam the girls up before they tackle the spotlight together.
Womanista asked Ballerini, who recently partnered with Softlips, to share her must-have purse items for award shows, to which she details, "Chapstick and gum are the two things that you have to have."
And keeping it real, she also claims that she's not the type of girl that can go all day without eating — "not me, bye!," she jokes — so "some kind of granola bar...or just chocolate" is "definitely inside my bag," she adds.
As a new artist, and young adult in general, Ballerini claims that she's "still tying to figure out" what her style is.
She isn't spilling her red carpet look this time around, but she will say that "both the performance outfit and the carpet outfit for the CMAs — they’re very different, but I think they’re both sides of me to a T."
Ballerini's special guest will also sit with her throughout the show (as any proper date would!).
"It’s a cool first for me, and it’s a cool first for her," Ballerini humbly says. "So, we get to share that together."
Despite opening for country greats, including Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, and Underwood, this will only be the second time that Ballerini has performed at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Her first time was late last month, as one of Taylor Swift's featured surprised guests on her 1989 World Tour.
"I call them mountain-top-moments. It’s those moments where you say, 'Oh my gosh, I’m going to remember this for awhile,’" she says with a smile. "I’ve seen so many shows in that arena, her shows in particular — every tour, and to be able to perform with her and in that arena, it was unreal.
"Taylor gave me really good advice. 'Cause I think for awhile at the very beginning, I tried to be super polished, and super professional," she continues. "I’m 22 and I’m not that way."
Ballerini further shares how ultimately Swift advised her to "always remember to be warm and human, that’s what’s going to make you you — that’s what’s going to make you stand out."
And stand out she does, for all the right reasons.
Having released her first No. 1 single, "Love Me Like You Mean It," — off her debut album, The First Time — a mere 13 months ago, Ballerini has also become only the 11th solo female country artist to hit No. 1 with a debut. Her second single, "Dibs," is currently in the Top 20.
"To be embraced like this, as a new artist, it’s crazy. I know it’s rare. I don’t know why it happened, but I am very, very thankful," she concludes.
For their eighth-year running, Brad Paisley and Underwood, will host ABC's The 49th Annual CMA Awards, live from Nashville, TN, on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. (c).