Country

Kelsea Ballerini is bringing community celebration and big Dolly Parton vibes to the CMT Music Awards

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ABC

Kelsea Ballerini’s co-hosting this year’s CMT Music Awards with actor Anthony Mackie, and the singer says she learned how to host an awards show from the best: Dolly Parton.

“I mean, Dolly is the best,” Kelsea gushes to ABC Audio. “She’s all personality. She sets the tone for everybody to feel ready to celebrate community, and that’s always been the energy I’ve gotten from this show. It’s celebratory, it’s community, it’s all about the fans.”

Kelsea got an up-close look at Dolly’s hosting style during last month’s ACM Awards, where she performed a duet with the country legend. Dolly shared host duties with Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett at the ACMs.

“I feel like I’ve taken a lot of notes from Dolly this year,” Kelsea goes on to say.

But as much as she’s focusing on her hosting gig, the singer’s also looking forward to having a front-row seat for some truly epic performances.

The Judds [are performing for the first time in] 20 years? That’s insane. It was just announced that Little Big Town, Jimmie Allen and Monica are performing together? Like, what?” Kelsea goes on to say, pointing out that unexpected live moments and team-ups are part of what makes this show special.

“It’s not just the songs you’ve heard on the radio for the last year. It’s album cuts. It’s new songs. It’s collaborations,” she elaborates. “It’s a true snapshot of what’s going on in country music.”

Tune in to the CMT Music Awards tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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