Kelsea Ballerini was Grammy eligible in 2015 and 2016 but her 2017 nomination in the Best New Artist category happened for a reason. One song, she says, pushed her over the top.

“'Peter Pan’ I think was a game-changer," Ballerini tells Taste of Country. "That was the first song that really had some heartbeat to it ... I think that’s the song that got people’s attention.”

Among the first to text her with congratulations was her category-mate Maren Morris. The two agreed to represent country music proudly at the 2017 Grammy Awards on Feb. 12 — big hair and sparkles were discussed, Ballerini says — but she's also a fan of other Best New Artist nominees. Chance the Rapper, Anderson .Paak and the Chainsmokers are her competition in this category.

“I’m a huge fan of the Chainsmokers, like huge," Ballerini shares, "Like, I would love to collaborate with them.”

On Tuesday morning (Dec. 6) the "Yeah Boy" singer says she was woken up by a cell phone that was "acting like an explosive device." Texts from Taylor Swift and the Grammy-nominated Hillary Scott poured in. The news was unexpected — a day full of media will need to be wedged in between what she already had planned.

Ballerini is due to play a Christmas show with Dave Barnes on Tuesday night, hours after presenting a check for $1 million to Nashville Public Schools on behalf of Music Makes Us. So it was going to be a day of smiles regardless, but this news brought tears, as well. On Instagram Ballerini shared a photo of herself at age 15, holding a Grammy trophy and never dreaming that she might win one some day. The timing couldn't be more perfect.

“It’s been so cool to see this album be embraced by radio, embraced by fans and then embraced big enough to make a headline tour out of it," the 23-year-old says. "The Grammys are just the pinnacle of music. For this album to get me a nomination like that, I’m so proud.”

The 2017 Grammys air on Feb. 12 on CBS. Morris and Keith Urban lead all country singers with four and three nominations, respectively.

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