Ballerini was one of the biggest surprises of the last two years in country music, coming from out of seemingly nowhere to score three straight No. 1 hits from her debut album, The First Time.
The singer-songwriter's first album leaned toward fun, light-hearted pop-country like "Love Me Like You Mean It," "Dibs" and "Yeah Boy," but there were also songs with more mature themes on that album, most notably "Peter Pan," the third single. Her sophomore album, Unapologetically, is set for release on Nov. 3, and its first single, "Legends," is yet another step forward for Ballerini's artistry.
Ballerini earned her first CMA Awards nomination in 2015 for Female Vocalist, and she's nominated for the third time in 2017. The newfound maturity of her work is just one of the reasons Kelsea Ballerini deserves to win Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards.
Remember: The best way to watch the CMAs is on TV, with ToC on your phone!
Part of Ballerini's success is inextricable from a certain winning quality she possesses, whether one-on-one with fans and media or en masse with audiences. She's a relatable person who makes you root for her, and while that's not specifically a vocal quality, her winning way come across when she sings, binding it to her ability to capture and move people with her voice.
She Really Is a Great Singer
Though her sparkling personality tends to put the focus of most of what's written about Ballerini on her as a person, she does possess a genuinely strong, clear singing voice that she is able to employ effectively across a wide spectrum of material. Her vocal performance on "Legends" shows real growth from her first album, and that kind of growth is what makes an artist deserving of a big award like Female Vocalist of the Year.
She's Mature Beyond Her Age
Now 24, Ballerini is a veteran artist at an age when most would still be struggling to get noticed by a label. She is a far more poised and confident singer and performer than most artists her age, and she is constantly working to find new ways to move forward. The new maturity she's bringing to Unapologetically is just one more reason she deserves a Female Vocalist of the Year win.
Ballerini is not a pre-packaged country-pop princess whose work is the end product of studio trickery. She's spent a big chunk of the last few years on the road demonstrating that she can sing her songs live, and she's one of the younger artists who can strip it all the way down to her voice and an acoustic guitar and still be effective.
She's New Blood in a Stale Category
Look back on Female Vocalist of the Year winners and you will see just three names over the past decade, with two of them accounting for nine wins. Yes, that's partly because some of the same singers turn in award-worthy performances year after year, but it's also a staid category almost by its very nature. A Female Vocalist of the Year win from Ballerini would signal that the CMA Awards are finally ready to look to a new generation of country musicians and the future of the genre for some of the most important awards.