Kelsea Ballerini Sings ‘If You Go Down’ at CMT Music Awards – Billboard

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When it came time for her performance at the 2023 CMT Music Awards on Sunday night (April 2), Kelsea Ballerini decided to bring a quartet of fabulous drag queens out to help her deliver a poignant message.

Performing her single “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too),” Ballerini was joined by RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Manila Luzon, Kennedy Davenport, Jan Sport and Olivia Lux. All dressed in their best 1950s southern drag, Ballerini and the queens strutted around the stage — which was decorated like a white picket-fenced front yard — singing about their ride-or-die friendship with one another.

Eventually, the quintet of performers found its way from the stage to a massive catwalk stretching through the audience. As confetti rained down from above, Ballerini cuddled up with the four queens, belting out the final words to the song: “Our bodies are buried and they’re in the same ditch/ So even if I wanted to, I can’t snitch,” she sang. “Thirty to life would go quicker with you/ So if you go down, I’m goin’ down too.”

The performance came as something of a political statement from the country star, especially as drag has become a target for right-wing legislatures around the country. Most recently, after Tennessee passed its widely criticized public-drag ban, a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect for 14 days on Friday (March 31), claiming that the state failed to make a compelling argument as to why the new law was warranted.

Ballerini wasn’t only performing on Sunday night — the singer served as one of the evening’s hosts alongside Kane Brown. Stars including Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Gwen Stefani and Tyler Hubbard also shared performances during the event, while Lainey Wilson led nominees at the event with four nominations. Brown, Jelly Roll and Cody Johnson followed with three each.

Check out the full performance below:



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