Kelsea Ballerini on Hosting the 2024 CMT Awards Solo: 'It's Definitely New Grounds for Me' (Exclusive)

In an interview with PEOPLE, Ballerini teases the possibility of performing new music at the upcoming country awards show

<p>Hubert Vestil/WireImage</p> Kelsea Ballerini

Hubert Vestil/WireImage

Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini isn't a newbie at hosting the CMT Music Awards, but this year's show will be new territory for her as she goes it solo.

The "Penthouse" singer, 30, is opening up about going into her fourth year hosting the country music awards show, set to return live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas, on April 7 at 8 p.m. ET.

"It's definitely new grounds for me," Ballerini tells PEOPLE of the 2024 CMT Music Awards solo gig over Zoom from her home in Nashville. "But it's my fourth year hosting, so I feel like I've learned a lot. And the good thing about CMTs is there's such a light energy, so there's not a pressure that I feel to be perfect. I just want to be fun, honor the night and help people have a good time."

Related: Kelsea Ballerini Felt 'Bummed' to Lose Best Country Album at 2024 Grammys but 'Happy' for Lainey Wilson

<p>Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty</p> Kelsea Ballerini

Gilbert Flores/WWD via Getty

Kelsea Ballerini

After three years of co-hosting with Kane Brown, she's anything but "nervous" for her solo hosting debut. She may, however, recruit some friends to join her during the three-hour awards show.

"It's really a big reunion and everyone wants to hang out, so I might just ask for some help where I can get it," notes Ballerini.

In the past, the "Mountain with a View" singer found meaning in addressing moments that matter at the CMT Music Awards — like when she performed with drag queens amid Tennessee's drag ban and addressed gun violence at last year's show.

Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Manila Luzon, Jan Sport, Kelsea Ballerini, Olivia Lux and Kennedy Davenport
Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Manila Luzon, Jan Sport, Kelsea Ballerini, Olivia Lux and Kennedy Davenport

"I think when you have a platform, especially as a host, especially on a show having such a big platform on CBS and CMT, you have a responsibility to address things that matter. For me, both of those statements last year really mattered to me. I just think it's really important to have moments in every program, whether it be CMTs or any show where people are expressing their wants, for everyone to feel seen and safe," Ballerini says.

Ultimately, she wants to keep the same vibe hosting that she would as a presenter or guest — and that includes a pre-show ritual of "tequila."

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<p>Emma McIntyre/Getty </p> Kelsea Ballerini

Emma McIntyre/Getty

Kelsea Ballerini

"There's something about this show, in particular, that feels like a summer party," Ballerini says. "Everyone backstage is 'cheers'-ing each other and running into each other's dressing rooms. That's the energy that I want to bring on screen and into the room."

The country star also confirms to PEOPLE that she will perform at the 2024 CMT Music Awards.

"I can tell you from the bottom of my heart I have no idea when I'm going to be singing, but I will be singing something," Ballerini laughs.

<p>Catherine Powell/Getty</p> Kelsea Ballerini performs during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards

Catherine Powell/Getty

Kelsea Ballerini performs during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards

Related: Kelsea Ballerini Is Taking Time to 'Appreciate What the Last Couple Years Have Brought into My Life' (Exclusive)

Asked if she'll perform a new song at the ceremony, Ballerini says she "might be."

Though she remains tight-lipped on how her next release will sound, the four-time Grammy nominee notes that she learned "not to round the edges" with her latest project, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat.

"[I learned] to let each song have its own personality, be specific, and somehow it will all fit together if it's all the truth," Ballerini says. "Although what I'm writing about is obviously different, there's still the heart that I found in those five songs that I'm definitely maintaining and preserving."

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