Kelsea Ballerini Named to 2023 Time100 Next List
"Kelsea Ballerini and I first met at a country music awards show. I remember thinking back then how talented she was as a songwriter at such a young age," Twain remembers, praising Ballerini's "thought-provoking," "meaningful" and "original" songwriting.
"She isn't afraid to be vulnerable and really brave with her songwriting. She's also a great friend," she goes on to say.
Ballerini showcased that relentless drive to pursue authenticity with her 2023 Rollilng Up the Welcome Mat EP, a collection that documented her divorce from fellow country artist Morgan Evans. Ballerini has also expanded her artistry in several different creative directions, including putting out her own book of poetry called Feel Your Way Through.
In her Time tribute, Twain also applauded Ballerini's decision to perform with a troupe of drag queens on the 2022 CMT Music Awards, a move that drew both praise and backlash from viewers.
"She has a powerful sense of self in those moments: She knows exactly where her heart is, and she always leads with love and inclusivity," Twain writes.
In an interview with Time surrounding her inclusion on the Time100 Next list, Ballerini points out that that CMT Music Awards performance coincided with an uptick in anti-drag legislation in her home state of Tennessee.
"I was not only hosting the CMT Awards, but I had a performance for a song of mine that is all about friendship and standing up for the people that you love, and being ride-or-die for your people," Ballerini explains. "I realized that that would be a really good, important, loud, big stage to make that statement on, and CMT was all for it."
Ballerini also recently gave her debut performance on the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards. Rolling Up the Welcome Mat is also nominated for Album of the Year at the 2023 CMA Awards, and Ballerini is up for Female Vocalist of the Year at that awards show, too.