Kelsea Ballerini Performs 'Heartfirst' in Quarantine at CMT Awards - Rolling Stone
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Watch Kelsea Ballerini Sing ‘Heartfirst’ — From Quarantine — at CMT Music Awards

Despite a Covid diagnosis, the country singer and sidelined awards-show host exuded charisma in a backyard performance

Kelsea Ballerini gave the live TV debut of her new song “Heartfirst” at Monday night’s CMT Music Awards. But Ballerini wasn’t onstage in Nashville — rather, she sang the upbeat slice of country-pop at home after being sidelined by a case of Covid-19.

Dressed in a green dress and strumming a white acoustic guitar, Ballerini performed “Heartfirst” in her backyard against a white backdrop. It was a pretaped performance (Can you blame her? She has Covid), but Ballerini sold it by exuding the type of charisma you can’t fake. Earlier in the evening, the country singer posed in front of a step-and-repeat in her driveway, poking fun at her quarantine.

Kelsea Ballerini, CMT Awards

Kelsea Ballerini, who tested positive for Covid, poses in front of a step-and-repeat in the driveway of her home.

Jason Kempin / 2022 CMT Music Awards/Getty

Ballerini was slated to co-host the CMT Awards with the actor Anthony Mackie, but after testing positive for the virus, she pivoted to hosting remotely.

“[They] brought part of the CMT set to my house, to my little bubble, and set it up to where I can still host and perform…We’re doing our damn best,” Ballerini said. “Let’s make some lemonade together out of these very bitter lemons.”

“Heartfirst” is the follow-up to Ballerini’s collaboration with LANY, “I Quit Drinking,” and her Number One duet with Kenny Chesney, “Half of My Hometown.” It’s the first preview of a new project from Ballerini, who will play some festival dates this summer. Earlier this month, Ballerini announced she was the new model for Covergirl cosmetics and spoke to Rolling Stone about the artists who’ve inspired her career.

“One of the most fundamental parts of my career has been the women that have come before me turning around and reaching out their hand to me,” she said. “That started with Taylor Swift. Shania has been a big part of that. Trisha Yearwood has been a part of that. Alison Krauss has been a part of that. These women turn around and they go, ‘I’ve been you. I see you. I understand you. Let me help you. Let me highlight you. I have this big platform that I’ve spent all these wonderful years building and I want to share it now.’ It’s a beautiful thing to do and they don’t have to do it.”

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