(Nashville): When Kelsea Ballerini sat down to write, record and co-produce Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, she didn’t do it for anyone but herself – and the people who might be struggling with the confusion, grief and emptiness that comes with “What happened?” There was no plan for Saturday Night Live, a New York Times profile, fan-only events at the GRAMMY Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame or NYC’s Whitby Theater, let alone the universal acclaim for the project or response from her fans, especially while performing “Penthouse (Healed Version)” on tour this summer.
When the announcements for “The 57th Annual Country Music Association Awards” were made this morning, she certainly wasn’t expecting Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, a humble, personal project co-produced with her good friend and frequent collaborator Alysa Vanderheym, to be one of the Album of the Year nominees. But there it was, alongside her sixth nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year.
“When taking care of yourself means sorting through all these raw emotions in your songs, and you decide to make a record to document the moment – and how far you’ve come from that place,” Kelsea says, “it’s a heart thing. You believe someone else going through it might find something they need, too, but you never think any further than that."
She continued, “I saw the text from my manager, and I almost couldn’t believe it. I was rushing around, getting ready to go on a trip with my friends for my birthday, and I just stopped in my tracks. It hit me: sometimes when you show people the most vulnerable pieces of who we are – the things you’re sure make you weak, or that people won’t like you if they knew – those are the very things people are wanting, maybe even needing to hear the most."
“I know it sounds like what you’re supposed to say, but I am so, so grateful to every member of the Country Music Association who voted for Rolling Up The Welcome Mat for Album of the Year. To see your peers and the business recognize something I wasn’t even sure my label would let me release? As a songwriter, a woman, and as someone who wants to encourage anyone 'going through it,' receiving my first Album of the Year nomination for this project is so validating. This is a sign for anyone who writes and sings, to sing your songs and don't be scared!”
A multiple GRAMMY-nominee, Kelsea’s road to Rolling Up The Welcome Mat was paved with creativity and daring. Not only did she write and co-produce with Vanderheym, but she also wrote and co-directed a short film to accompany the in-the-moment anthology – and did three fan events to screen the long-form music video over the summer. She completed three major legs of her own headlining tour, was direct support on Kenny Chesney’s I Go Back 2023 dates, and delivered the candy-colored clip for “IF YOU GO DOWN (I'M GOIN' DOWN TOO)," currently continuing to climb the upper reaches of the country radio chart.
“I thought this was a crazy notion, but something I needed to do,” Kelsea says. “I am so grateful Black River supported me on something that made no sense with an album out, but believed in my creative voice and process enough to let me. Creativity pays off!"