The 23-year-old’s name was called alongside dance duo the Chainsmokers, rap breakout Chance the Rapper, genre-mate Maren Morris, and singer-rapper Anderson .Paak on Tuesday morning — but the budding star didn’t expect it. She didn’t set her alarm to watch Meghan Trainor announce her category, she tells Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t think I have cable?” she admits, laughing. Instead, “I woke up to the sound of my phone just dinging over and over and over again.”
One of the first names to pop up was, of course, her mother, but congratulations also quickly rolled in from her peers as well. “One of the first messages I got was from Maren [Morris], which was really cool,” she says. “It was really cool to be like, ‘Oh my God! We get to go together!’ And it’s cool, too, because we’re both chicks in country music and we get to represent our genre together. It’s a big, frickin’ deal.”
When Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It” topped the Billboard Country Airplay charts in June 2015, she became the first female to have their debut tune go all the way in nine years. (She was just the 11th female ever to accomplish the feat.) And while her filigree word play did much of the work, she also got a well-timed shout out from Taylor Swift, who’d then just recently abdicated her pop-country throne. Since then, the two have become close and Swift was one of the first to congratulate Ballerini. Swift’s text? “Congratulations! Oh my God!”
She was also excited to see the Chainsmokers get some attention — “I’m a huge, huge, huge fan,” she admits — along with Keith Urban. The Aussie’s Ripcord is up for Best Country Album. “That’s my favorite album of the year,” she says. “I was stoked to see that nominated.”
Ballerini is in the middle of her first headlining tour and says that she hasn’t even begun to wonder if she’ll prepare a speech. Instead, what’s blowing her mind is a bit simpler. She asks, “To be in the same room as Adele and Beyoncé, I mean, what do you do?” Come February, she’ll find out.