Kelsea Ballerini marked two major milestones on Tuesday, September 12: her first time performing at the MTV Video Music Awards and her 30th birthday.
Ballerini rocked the Prudential Center stage with a rendition of “Penthouse,” off her Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP. She stunned in a white column dress as an orchestra accompanied the performance.
Tuesday’s set featured the “healed” version of the song lyrics and she even swapped outfits during the long pause following the bridge. By the end of the number, her white look was pulled away to reveal a black mini-dress underneath.
Ballerini attended the VMAs with her boyfriend, Chase Stokes, and they sealed their red carpet moment with a sweet kiss. The duo, who have been linked since January, coordinated their outfits and opted for red. Stokes, 30, noted on the MTV pre-show that the matching looks were “serendipitous.”
As Ballerini prepared to take the stage, she noted via Instagram Story that it is a “whole ass slay” to make her VMA debut on her birthday.
Ballerini has churned out plenty of music in the last year to keep fans satisfied. After the September 2022 release of her fourth studio album, Subject to Change, she dropped Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, a six-song EP inspired by her 2022 divorce from Morgan Evans, in February. Six months later, an updated version of the project, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (For Good), came out.
The country singer opened up in August about how the songs evolved after performing them live. “It’s not mine anymore, it’s just not. Like, it’s very much so an ‘ours’ thing. And so [the fans have] been very vocal from the very beginning — as soon as I played ‘Blindsided’ on SNL, they were like, ‘We need the ‘Yeah, Sure, Okay’ version,’” she exclusively told Us Weekly at the time. “And then when I started singing ‘Penthouse’ live, it kind of just changed and evolved every night. And then one day, on a whim, I just changed one word and it took on a whole new life and they were like, ‘We need that version.’ It’s called ‘The Healed Version.’ I never made that up! That was them.”
Ballerini went on to explain how her emotions shifted after putting some distance between herself and the music. “I just got to a place where the songs and what they were about — obviously, that will always be a chapter of my life that I will bookmark with that album — but I don’t have those feelings toward it anymore,” she said. “Now, it’s just this thing that has connected me to people and I wanna be able to say thank you by giving them what they’ve asked for through this music. So that’s why I’m so excited about it. My only feeling toward it is gratitude.”