See Kelsea Ballerini Photos From Girl-Powered Nashville Tour Stop - Rolling Stone
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See Kelsea Ballerini Photos From Girl-Powered Nashville Tour Stop

Budding talent takes us behind the scenes of her first Music City headlining gig, where Maddie & Tae were surprise guests

Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini brought the CMT Next Women of Country Tour to Nashville on May 12th.

Joseph Llanes

Playing the CMT Next Women of Country Tour stop in Nashville — her first-ever headlining gig in her adopted hometown — was a surreal experience for Kelsea Ballerini. Tuesday's show came less than a week before her debut album, The First Time, hits stores (on May 18th).

"I heard people sing [the LP's first single] 'Love Me Like You Mean It' so loud that I put up my microphone on the second line into the song," the singer-songwriter tells Rolling Stone Country. "I put my head down so I wouldn't start bawling. I looked over to the side stage at everyone from my label and my management [team], and it was just this moment. . . Those are the moments that you work so hard for."

The 21-year-old talent invited us behind the scenes of the show to capture intimate backstage and electrifying onstage moments — including one that turned this promising solo act into a trio. All photos by Joseph Llanes and captions as told to Rolling Stone Country by Kelsea Ballerini.

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