Knoxville-native Kelsea Ballerini excited about CMA nominations

NASHVILLE (WATE) – It’s country music’s biggest night. One of the stars at the Country Music Awards hails from Knoxville.

Kelsea Ballerini’s catchy tunes have skyrocketed her to the top of the country charts this summer. She caught the attention of superstar Taylor Swift when she was invited to sing with her.

More: CMA Awards Coverage

“If I could go back and tell my 12-year-old self any of this would happen, but especially singing with Taylor Swift, I mean I could have just died,” said Ballerini.

It’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to ballerini. The bubbly blonde’s music is not only fun and flirty, but tells a story, many of which were inspired by her life in East Tennessee.

“I have very, very southern roots and a very southern lifestyle growing up and I definitely think that’s helped me with my songwriting and being a country artist,” said Ballerini.

The country music singer grew up in Knoxville, but moved to Nashville at age 15. She signed with Black River Entertainment as a songwriter at age 19 and two years later she made history with the label.

“When I had my first number one with “love me” it was also the label’s first number one too, which kind of made it an extra special celebration,” said Ballerini.

These days the 22-year-old is celebrating those successes with an extra special companion: her puppy, fittingly named Dibs, just like her latest hit single. Those songs also scored her first two CMA award nominations for female vocalist of the year and new artist of the year.

“I’ve never even been to the CMAs as an artist before, I’ve only been there as a fan and sat in the back. So to even put on a dress and sit with the cool kids this year is really exciting, but to be nominated and to perform is really crazy,” said Ballerini.

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