GRAMMY Award-Nominated Artist Kelsea Ballerini Rocks Hometown High School for Tennessee Tourism Celebration

Fans from 28 States Traveled to Knoxville’s Central High School for Special Sophomore Album Celebration

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Saturday night, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development teamed up with two-time Academy of Country Music Award winner Kelsea Ballerini for a one-of-a-kind album celebration in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Fans from 28 states came together to celebrate the release of Ballerini’s upcoming sophomore album, “Unapologetically” out Nov. 3.

The special concert experience was part of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s Snapchat Concert Series and their ongoing ‘The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.’ brand campaign. The event took place at Ballerini’s alma mater, Central High School, the same place where she performed an original song for the first time as a student. Tickets to the album celebration show were offered free through Tennessee Tourism’s Snapchat and sold out in one minute.

Ballerini took the stage with high energy performances of “I Hate Love Songs,” “Legends,” “Miss Me More,” “Roses,” and “Unapologetically” from her upcoming album, as well as “Dibs,” “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Peter Pan,” “Square Pegs,” “Stilettos,” “XO,” and “Yeah Boy” from her RIAA GOLD-certified debut “The First Time.” Ballerini also surprised the crowd by doing an acoustic style cover of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.”

Prior to her performance of “Unapologetically,” Ballerini brought up her fiancé, Morgan Evans, to show how unapologetically in love she is. In-between songs, Ballerini took a moment to sit on the edge of the stage and have an intimate conversation with fans, explaining the meaning behind the songs on her new album and what it meant to be back in her hometown performing at her old high school.

She also thanked the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, who gifted all attendees with “Unapologetically” download cards prior to the album’s release date on Nov 3.

After finishing her set, Ballerini returned to the stage with the school’s principal and made a surprise donation of $20,000 to Central High School. The principal then surprised her with the school’s highest honor, the Bobcat Award.Ballerini ended the night with a fitting performance of “High School.”

Prior to the show, Ballerini received a one-of-a-kind “platinum record” from the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to commemorate this special celebration show. She also participated in a meet and greet with lucky winners and gave them a sneak listen into her not-yet-released album.

To open the show, Ryan Griffin, who co-wrote Ballerini’s hit single “Dibs,” took the stage and performed a few of his original songs. Griffin recently released his first EP, “Sake Of The Summer,” led by the single “Back Seats and Burnt CDs.” As a songwriter, Griffin’s words mirror his life and translate to his authentic music, relaying truth, vulnerability and compassion in each song.

“The two years I spent at Central were some of the most character and career-defining for me. It's one of the most special places in the world to me,” said Kelsea Ballerini. “It’s so cool to bring it full circle to the first time I ever sang a song I'd written on stage at Central. Being able to come back and celebrate my second album release where it all started seemed like the purest way to kick everything off. It was super emotional, but really special.”

Fans who followed “Tennessee” on Snapchat also gained access to brand new content pieces with Ballerini, including highlights of her journey as an aspiring singer-songwriter from Knoxville, to one of country music’s top female artists, as well as a trip down memory lane to her favorite Knoxville area spots.

Kelsea’s favorite Knoxville spots include Rita’s Bakery and their thumbprint cookies, Litton’s Market & Restaurant with "the best burger in town," The Tennessee Theatre, Civic Coliseum, Market Square, WIVK-FM, and of course, Central High School.

“To host Kelsea Ballerini’s homecoming at Central High School where her music career literally began is a great fit for us and makes perfect sense,” Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development said. “Arguably, Tennessee’s greatest export to our country and the world is our music. Our mission is to inspire travel to Tennessee, which often motivates artists to live here or start their careers here. To bring together the great music and wonderful family experiences of Knoxville by presenting one of Tennessee’s brightest new artists in her own hometown is a way of doing that. Kelsea Ballerini showed the world tonight why we say ‘The Soundtrack of America is Made in Tennessee’.”

Tennessee has long been known as a global music destination, where the genres of blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll originated and has more musicians per capita than any other place in the world. It is the state where artists come to create and perform their music. Tennessee is home to world-renowned music attractions including Graceland, Beale Street, Tennessee Theatre, Sun Studio, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Bluebird Cafe, Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Grand Ole Opry and the famous Ryman Auditorium.   

For more information, visit www.tnvacation.com and follow “Tennessee” on Snapchat, and join the conversation using hashtag #MadeinTN.

Photo credit: Getty Images 

About Kelsea Ballerini:

Named among the "30 Biggest Albums of Fall” by Entertainment Weekly, GRAMMY nominee Kelsea Ballerini has released her first heart-melting anthemic single “Legends” off her highly anticipated sophomore album, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, slated to drop Nov. 3. The Black River Entertainment artist skyrocketed to stardom after releasing three consecutive PLATINUM-certified, No. 1 smashes from her critically-acclaimed, GOLD debut album THE FIRST TIME – “Love Me Like You Mean It," “Peter Pan,” and “Dibs” – making her the only female artist in country music history, including female duos and groups, to achieve this accolade. The talented singer-songwriter also reached GOLD with Top 5 hit “Yeah Boy,” after having written or co-written all 12 songs on her debut. Ballerini has appeared on the cover of Billboard Magazine’s GRAMMY preview issue; was included in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” class of 2017; and featured in People Magazine’s “Beauty at Every Age” list in their iconic World’s Most Beautiful issue for 2017. She's been named “The Country Sweetheart” in People’s elite “Ones to Watch” portfolio; praised by Rolling Stone as the “Nashville It Girl;” touted by Billboard as “Country’s Next Queen;” and selected as one of CMT’s Next Women of Country. After her 2016 headline THE FIRST TIME TOUR – which visited dozens of cities across the U.S. and included sold-out shows in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York City; Los Angeles; and more – Ballerini joined Thomas Rhett for his HOME TEAM TOUR and Lady Antebellum’s YOU LOOK GOOD WORLD TOUR. Awarded Billboard’s “Rising Star” honor at the prestigious 2015 Women in Music event, she has continued to gain recognition by scoring her first-ever ACM Award win for New Female Vocalist of the Year, iHeartRadio Music Award for Best New Country Artist, multiple Radio Disney Music Awards, and the American Country Countdown Award for Breakthrough Female of the Year. Ballerini is vying for Female Vocalist of the Year at the 51st Annual CMA Awards airing live Nov. 8 from Nashville on ABC.  

About the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development:

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is to motivate travel to and within Tennessee by inspiring enjoyment, creating memories, producing a desire to return, and establishing key long-term relationships that result in visitors becoming residents. Tennessee’s tourism industry generates $19.3 billion annually in economic impact, more than $1.7 billion in state and local sales tax revenue and more than 176,500 tourism-related jobs. The promise of Tennessee—the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll—is to be the global music destination of choice. To deliver an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is the “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”

Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube or “Tennessee” on Snapchat.

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Need more info?

Cindy Dupree

Director of Public Relations
cindy.dupree@tn.gov
615) 741-9010