Kelsea Ballerini Makes Set List Change During New Year’s Eve Performance To Reflect On Her ‘Brutal Year’

“I just feel like this is maybe just something that I needed to do to wrap up my year to sing this song with you,” Ballerini shared.

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Country Now Staff

| Posted on

January 2, 2023

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Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS

Kelsea Ballerini rang in 2023 in front of thousands of fans in Nashville and took a moment to reflect on the ups and downs of 2022 while on stage. 

The chart-topping superstar was one of several country artists who performed live in front of a record-breaking crowd of 210,000 at Bicentennial Mall in Nashville, Tennessee. Their performances aired on the CBS special, New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS

In addition to Ballerini, Brooks & Dunn and Zac Brown Band also performed at Bicentennial Mall. The show’s co-hosts Elle King and Jimmie Allen also made appearances at the event. 

Ahead of her performance at Nashville’s Big Bash, Ballerini took to TikTok to share a clip as she got ready. Donning a gray robe and under eye masks, the 29-year-old celebrating the end of what she called a “brutal year.” 

During her set, Ballerini made an in-the-moment decision to perform “Homecoming Queen,” a track from her third studio album, kelsea

Prior to performing the tune, the “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” singer shared a vulnerable moment with fans.

“I also want to say if this was a hard year for you, whether it’d be internally or externally. You’re super not alone. I know this was a brutal year for a lot of people and it was a brutal year for me,” she honestly shared.

The East Tennessee native went on to encourage fans to embrace their feelings. 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS

“I just want to say one of the things I learned just growing up is the way to honor your life is to honor your feelings and when you feel happy. You should feel like really, really happy, and when you’re really sad. You should let yourself feel really, really sad. When you want to smile, you should let yourself smile, and when you want to cry you should let yourself cry.”

She admitted that she originally didn’t plan to sing “Homecoming Queen” but decided to add it to her set because “I just feel like this is maybe just something that I needed to do to wrap up my year to sing this song with you.” 

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Mary Kouw, CBS

She continued, “So, this is for anyone who had a hard year and for anyone that’s shed some tears and for anyone that’s ready to step back into their power next year.” 

Ballerini’s comments come after she endured a public divorce from fellow country singer Morgan Evans. The couple’s divorce was finalized in mid-November on the same day Ballerini earned a GRAMMY nomination and picked up the keys to her new home. 

@maryshea12

“the way to honor your life is to honor your feelings” Kelsea ending the year with the group therapy we always need #fyp #happynewyear #kelseaballerini

♬ original sound – Mary

Wearing a white version of an outfit she previously wore on her Heartfirst Tour, she also performed songs such as “Doin’ My Best” and “Heartfirst” from her latest project, Subject To Change.

@maryshea12

2023 mood: I’m doin’ my best, and when in doubt, just have a dance party #nashville #happynewyear #kelseaballerini #livemusic

♬ original sound – Mary

One day after her performance on Nashville’s Big Bash, Ballerini shared a TikTok eating breakfast from McDonald’s after a long evening.

2023 Tour

Next up, Kelsea Ballerini will bring her Heartfirst Tour to the United Kingdom. Kicking off on Feb. 23, the four-date run will visit Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, and London. 

In the Spring, Ballerini will hit the road with her longtime friend and musical hero, and “Half Of My Hometown” collaborator, Kenny Chesney, on the I Go Back Tour. The trek will visit 21 cities and will kick off on March 25 in State College, PA. 

Kenny Chesney; Photo by Jill Trunnell, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Kenny Chesney; Photo by Jill Trunnell, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

“Music has taken me so many incredible places,” Ballerini said. “Around the world, singing with some of my heroes in pop, alternative and contemporary music, but singing with Kenny is going home. He was the only voice I heard on ‘half of my hometown,’ and when he comes in, it’s just like hitting the Knoxville city limits. So to be able to go out to those cities like the place he and I grew up with an artist who’s accomplished what he has, it’s a lot like going home.”

For a complete list of upcoming tour dates, visit Kelsea Ballerini’s official website.  

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