Kelsea Ballerini Hosts The CMT Awards For The Last Time

The country star’s big night featured nine glamorous outfit changes and an unforgettable performance.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

April 8, 2024

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Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur_Getty Images for CMT

Kelsea Ballerini reveals she’s ready to relinquish her CMT Music Awards hosting duties. 

She first began her role as emcee of the CBS telecast in 2021 alongside Kane Brown and has remained a regular presence up until Sunday, April 7, when she hosted her fourth and final CMT Awards solo. 

Ready To Shift Her Focus To New Opportunities

The 30-year-old country star tells Variety she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience, but she’s ready to dedicate her time to some new opportunities. 

“It’s my final year, yeah,” Ballerini reveals. “I’ve hosted or co-hosted this show for four years now, and I’ve gotten to host a lot of different kinds of ventures over the last decade — and I really enjoy it. It was the first thing that I did outside of music really, that allowed me to ask myself the question: What else? Like, what else can I do? And I’m ready to ask myself that question again, and I really want to give myself the space to see what else there is.”

While she is “excited” to see what else is out there for her, the “HEARTFIRST” singer added she isn’t completely opposed to resuming her hosting duties one day in the future because it has become something she truly loves to do.

What’s Next For Kelsea Ballerini?

It’s unclear what exactly is coming next for Ballerini, but she has previously shown interest in working with emerging artists, and maybe even branching out beyond music to pursue roles on film and TV. 

“I’m really creatively fulfilled by the idea of finding a way to get involved with newer artists and find a way to creatively collaborate. And I’m really excited about the idea of doing some stuff in film and TV and just pushing myself outside of my comfort zone,” she explained to the outlet. “Music is always gonna be my baby and my focus and the thing that I protect the most, but in the space around it, I want to keep growing and I want to keep challenging myself.”

She Had Nine Different Looks Throughout The night

It’s safe to say that Ballerini went out with a bang. She brought her bright personality to the stage of Austin, Texas’ Moody Center, and she did it in style with nine different outfit changes throughout the night. 

She made her grand entrance onto the red carpet with her boyfriend Chase Stokes by her side, while donning a bright red, floor-length David Koma dress. The sheer gown with lace accents was paired with delicate Effy jewelry to complete the simple yet stunning look. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for CMT

Once inside, the country star changed into a rhinestone-covered mesh long-sleeve dress with a black bra and high-waisted briefs underneath. Her pointy heels matched the dress perfectly, as they also had the same silver, sheer look to them. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CMT

For her third and fourth looks of the night, Ballerini donned stunning two-piece sets. The first was a hot-pink ensemble that allowed her to channel her inner cowgirl barbie, and the other was a sheer green, purple and blue sequin top with matching pants. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur_Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur_Getty Images for CMT

Next up was a bright yellow turtleneck dress with three-quarter length sleeves and a high slit that accentuated her elegant gold shoes. The statement of this outfit was her large dangly earrings that sat just above her shoulders. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Jeff Kravitz_Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Jeff Kravitz_Getty Images for CMT

Ballerini kept her hair pulled back and dimmed down the jewelry for a more casual look featuring cropped, wide-legged trousers and a T-shirt that read, “This shirt saves lives,” in support of the CMT Awards’ charitable partner, St. Jude’s Children Hospital.

Kelsea Ballerini; photo by Jeff Kravitz_Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; photo by Jeff Kravitz_Getty Images for CMT

Once it was time to take a break from hosting, viewers got to Ballerini showcase the reimagined version of her debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It” while sporting a high-neck, long-sleeve gold bodysuit over a pair of sheer black tights. Her hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail to display another set of chunky earrings while her eye make-up included a beautiful golden eye shadow. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Catherine Powell_Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Catherine Powell_Getty Images for CMT

The Tennessee native really switched things up as she returned to the stage in a full black leather ensemble featuring an edgy off the shoulder jacket and miniskirt.

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur_Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Kevin Mazur_Getty Images for CMT

For her final look of the night, Kelsea Ballerini kept her short blonde hair, but changed into a mint green feathered dress with a plunging neckline and silver pointy heels with rhinestones that sparkled under the bright lights. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Catherine Powell_Getty Images for CMT
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Catherine Powell_Getty Images for CMT

Performing The New Version Of “Love Me Like You Mean It”

Between all these different outfit changes, Kelsea Ballerini definitely made her mark on the 2024 CMT Music Awards. Plus, she got the chance to usher in a new era of her career while also paying tribute to her early days as she debuted the newest version of her the song that started it all for her. The performance of “Love Me Like You Mean It” was pre-taped a few days prior at the University of Texas Tower, giving a set of lucky country fans the experience of a lifetime as they were the first to hear the just-released track live.  

It has officially been 10 years since she released the original fan-favorite, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” so of course Ballerini had to celebrate the milestone in a big way. While surrounded by the golden glow of fans light up wristbands, she delivered the slower, more mature rendition of the song and let her smooth vocals speak to all the growth she’s achieved in the past decade. 

YouTube video

2024 CMT Music Awards

In addition to Ballerini, the lineup of performers includes Bailey Zimmerman, Dasha, Parker McCollum, Jason Aldean, Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Lainey Wilson, Little Big Town + Sugarland, Megan Moroney, NEEDTOBREATHE + Jordan Davis, Old Dominion ft. Megan Moroney, Sam Hunt and Trisha Yearwood. 

Plus, during the show, Brooks & Dunn, Lainey Wilson, and Sammy Hagar joined forces with Toby Keith’s longtime band to honor the late country music icon with a musical tribute. Lukas Nelson and Roger Clemens were also on hand to honor Toby. 

The all-star presenter lineup includes: Amber Riley, Billy Bob Thornton (Landman), Carly Pearce, Cody Alan, Cody Johnson, Emily Osment (Young Sheldon), Emma Roberts, Gayle King (CBS Mornings), James Van Der Beek, Jane Seymour, Jelly Roll, Max Theriot (Fire Country), Megan Moroney, Melissa Etheridge, Mickey Guyton, Minnie Driver, Montana Jordan (Young Sheldon), Parmalee and Paul Walter Hauser. 

Hosted by Kelsea Ballerini, the 2024 CMT Music Awards aired LIVE from Austin, Texas’ Moody Center on Sunday, April 7th (8:00-11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The show also streamed live and on-demand on Paramount+.* 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.