Kelsea Ballerini Celebrates Historic Number One
“We’ll take ’em,” Kerr shot back with an eager smile.
Other plaques, trophies and medallions then arrived from the Country Aircheck, Country Radio Broadcasters and Country Music Association organizations, and finally it was time to hear from the writers themselves.
Carpenter started out by thanking Ballerini for her hard work, taking the song out to fans and radio stations and generally “busting her ass.” He was soon overcome by emotion. “Y’ll get to see a big ol’ country boy cry,” the Arkansas native joked, wiping away tears. “I’ll do cart wheels later to even it out.”
Carpenter closed with a poignant thought on a night of firsts: “Dreams,” he said. “If you’ve got ’em, chase ’em. If you don’t, get ’em. They come true.”
Kerr also found himself overcome with emotion, saying, “I did not think I could do this, but Celia just knew it for some reason. . . We were eating pizza and listening to Rihanna — not even country — now we’re here.”
And for Whitehead, special thanks and praise were in order for Ballerini.
“She not only blew me away as a songwriter, but when I got her behind a mic she made you feel what she wrote,” said the song’s co-writer/producer. “That’s so important, because pretty girls carrying guitars in this town are very common, but pretty girls carrying a guitar that can write the hell out of a song and make you believe it are so rare.”
A huge roar filled the room as the budding star took the podium, and tears began to well in her eyes before she could even get her first sentence out.
“This is a room full of dreamers,” said Ballerini. “And being dreamers you look forward a lot. You look forward to goals that you set and you look forward to your first Number One, but you don’t often look back. Last night on a very un-glamorous red-eye flight from Las Vegas, I started looking back.”
Saying that she spent a lot of time thinking about her supporters and believers, all the demos, all the setbacks and all the struggle, she thanked her colleagues with humility and grace and ended with a promise: “Right now I see a Wednesday night with a box of pizza and ‘Take a Bow’ on the radio, Forrest saying, ‘Kelsea, you need a song with swag,’ and me saying ‘OK,'” she laughed. “It wasn’t supposed to work, but it did. Thank you for already making looking back look so beautiful. And looking forward, I really just want to make you all proud.”
Ballerini’s second single, “Dibs,” is currently rising inside the Top 35 on Billboard‘s country airplay chart. She’ll be joining Dan + Shay this fall for the Just the Right Kind of Crazy tour.
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