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The Year in Music 2015 -- What a Difference a Year Makes for Kelsea Ballerini

Brad Lovell – Courtesy of Iconic Entertainment What a difference a year makes. At the 2014 CMA Awards, Kelsi Ballerini was sitting in the audience, in a not-so-great seat her record label had given her. One year later, she had both a coveted performance slot on the show and nominations in two major categories -- and a much better spot in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Life forever changed for Kelsea in June, when her debut single from her debut album catapulted to number one. “Love Me Like You Mean It” put Kelsea in the same category as Carrie Underwood and Trisha Yearwood, who accomplished the same feat with their very first release.

By August, Kelsea was hanging out with Taylor Swift, partying after MTV’s Video Music Awards. In September, she both took the stage with Taylor during the Music City stop on her 1989 tour and heard her own name called as she announced the CMA nominations live on ABC’s Good Morning America with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

Though Kelsea wouldn’t take home the CMA trophies for Best New Artist or Female Vocalist, she’d get a rematch with Carrie and Miranda Lambert later in the month of November, with an impressive nomination for Favorite Female Country Artist at the American Music Awards. She’d finally accept her first major honor in December, when Billboard named her its Rising Star at the Women in Music gala in New York City.

When the final tallies were in, Country Aircheck/Mediabase would proclaim Kelsea the most-played new artist of 2015. Next up, she'll ring in the New Year on the Riverfront at Music City’s annual Bash on Broadway with Kings of Leon and Chris Stapleton, before occupying a coveted spot on the career-making New Faces of Country Music show at the end of Country Radio Seminar 2016. Later in the month of February, the 22-year-old heads out with Billy Currington on the Summer Forever tour.

Beyond that, it sounds like there's no stopping Kelsea Ballerini. With her second single, “Dibs,” now climbing the charts, the prolific songwriter teases she already has enough tunes already written for the follow-up to The First Time.

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