Kelsea Ballerini on her life-changing CMA Album of the Year-nominated ‘Rolling Up The Welcome Mat’

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When Kelsea Ballerini surprise-released Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, she certainly didn’t expect the project to take on the life that it has and earn her her first CMA Album of the Year nod.

“This whole album [has] honestly just changed the way that I will make music forever. It’s so unexpected what’s happened with it. It was so not my intention, what’s happened with it, the way that it’s caught on like it has,” Kelsea tells ABC Audio.

“I’m really proud of it. I’m really proud of myself as a songwriter for being that bare and that honest. I’m really proud of myself as an artist for putting it out there very unapologetically. And I’m really proud of myself as a woman for standing by it through all the changes,” she shares. “So to be nominated for my first album of the year for those six songs means a lot more than it ever would have with any other album.”

In addition to being nominated, Kelsea will also take the stage to perform “Leave Me Again,” the last track off Rolling Up The Welcome Mat.

“[‘Leave Me Again’ is] all about like peace and closure and moving forward with love and happiness and the want for that for everyone,” the country-pop superstar explains. “That’s like truly where I’m at in my life now. And I’m really excited to end this year [and] end the Welcome Mat chapter with that sentiment.”

The 57th CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Wednesday, November 8, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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