Kelsea Ballerini Gives Cathartic “Penthouse” Performance, Talks Bringing Recent Album to CMA Fest for First Time

Kelsea Ballerini took the CMA Fest stage a couple of weeks ago, performing from her recent album, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, for the first time at the country music festival. If you missed the show live, you can catch her cathartic performance of the break-up anthem “Penthouse” on the CMA Fest television special tonight, June 25, at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

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Speaking with the crowd at the time, she shared that they were withing ear-shot of the infamous penthouse where she used to live with ex-husband Morgan Evans. However, while the song is abut the actual Nashville penthouse, it’s also a metaphor for a relationship that’s working on the surface, but in turmoil underneath.

Kneeling on the stage, she passionately sang to the audience, I kissed someone new last night / But now I don’t know where you’re sleeping, baby / We got along real nice, until I wanted out, now I know you hate me / One day, the curtain started coming down / We changed the second we were moving out / I guess wrong can look alright / When you’re playing home in a penthouse, baby.

Backed simply by piano, she lit up the stage with the vulnerable song, sharing her emotional journey with the audience who responded in kind. They screamed the raw lyrics back to her, creating a moment between themselves and Ballerini as she poured her heart out.


Been waiting to see this moment for months ✨ #kelseaballerini #penthouse #cmafest #cma @Kelsea Ballerini

♬ original sound – Laurel Sabadosh

[RELATED: CMA Fest TV Special Performers Announced: Lainey Wilson, Jelly Roll, More]

Kelsea Ballerini Talks Playing Rolling Up the Welcome Mat for the First Time at CMA Fest

Speaking with CMA Fest backstage after her performance, Kelsea Ballerini spoke at the time about how much she loves the festival, the good vibes on stage, and playing her recent album there for the first time.

First, she opened up about how much she missed CMA Fest, as she was on tour with Kenny Chesney last year and couldn’t play the festival. However, she got her chance to debut her special, emotional album at CMA Fest this year for all the fans in attendance, who matched her energy throughout the performance.

“To be able to bring [Rolling Up the] Welcome Mat to the stage for the first time, and just be in it again with people who love country music the most, [CMA Fest] feels like a huge celebration,” she said.

Ballerini also called Rolling Up the Welcome Mat the “anomaly” of her career. “I feel like I wrote it differently than any other album,” she said. “I had just written my proper 13-song, through the label, A&R record [Subject to Change], and then I was quietly going through a very big life change. And I made this record really selfishly, like truly for myself, and didn’t worry about where the songs would fit or if they would work with X, Y, and Z. It was just creative freedom.”

Featured Image by Hunter Berry/Country Music Association

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