Country Star Performs With Drag Queens At CMT Award Show, Pushes Gun Control

The annual Country Music Television (CMT) Awards show Sunday night was infused with political messages from 29-year-old singer Kelsea Ballerini, who co-hosted the ceremony alongside musician Kane Brown.

Ballerini performed on stage with drag queens from a reality TV show in an apparent rebuke of GOP-backed legislation. She also seemed to push gun control measures while invoking the recent school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, perpetrated by a former student, a 28-year-old woman who identified as a man.

“If you go down, i’m going down too // thank you to these iconic queens,” Ballerini said on Twitter, captioning a photo of the performance. The “Half of My Hometown” singer also thanked Country Music Television (CMT) “for celebrating love, self expression, and performance.”

A GOP-backed law in Tennessee would ban drag queen performances for children and in public spaces where they could be viewed by minors. The law was set to take effect at the beginning of April but has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.

Ballerini was joined on stage by four drag queens from the reality TV series “RuPaul’s Drag Race” while performing her hit single “If You Go Down (I’m Going Down Too).”

if you go down, i’m going down too 🏳️‍🌈 // thank you to these iconic queens and @manilaluzon @kennedyddoftx @janjanjan @TheOliviaLux and @CMT for celebrating love, self expression, and performance.

📸 John Shearer @GettyImages

— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) April 3, 2023

Earlier in the show, the co-host invoked the recent school shooting in Nashville, which left six dead, including three nine-year-old students, and seemed to push gun control measures.

“On March 27, 2023, three 9-year-olds — Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs — along with Dr. Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak, and Mike Hill, walked into the Covenant School and didn’t walk out,” Ballerini said. “The community of sorrow over this and the 130 mass shootings in the U.S. this year alone stretches from coast to coast.”

The singer said she witnessed a classmate, Ryan McDonald, be shot to death in her high school cafeteria.


“Tonight’s broadcast is dedicated to the ever-growing list of family’s friends, survivors, witnesses, and responders whose lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence,” she continued. “I pray deeply that the closeness and the community that we feel through the next few hours of music can soon turn into action — like, real action — that moves us forward together to create change for the safety of our kids and our loved ones.”

Listen to this exquisite statement at #CMTMusicAwards tonight by @KelseaBallerini, a fellow Nashvillian 🎸who used her platform beautifully 😭

— Dr. Joy Henningsen (@JoyHenningsenMD) April 3, 2023

Ballerini, who recently divorced after five years of marriage, revealed in February that the marriage ended over the couple’s disagreement on having children. The singer wanted to wait and freeze her eggs so she could continue her career at full speed, while her now ex-husband, Morgan Evans, wanted children right away, The Daily Wire reported.

“That was something that we had talked about early on, and that was something that I was changing on,” she said. “‘Cause he was ready. He was like, ‘I don’t want to be an old dad,’ is what he kept saying. And I was like, ‘I’m not there yet, and I can’t do that to save this and give you something that I’m not ready for.’”

Related: ‘The Glitter Wears Off’: Country Singer Explains Reason For Divorcing Husband Of 5 Years

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