Gabby Barrett on Motherhood, Breakout Year and Taking Her Baby on the Road (Exclusive)

Gabby Barrett
Robby Klein

ET spoke with the singer ahead of the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, where she's the female artist with the most nominations.

It has been quite the year for Gabby Barrett!

The 21-year-old country singer is a nine-time nominee and the female artist with the most nods, including top new artist, at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards. She's also a first-time mom, welcoming her first child with husband Cade Foehner in January.

"It's overwhelming but in the best way," she tells ET's Lauren Zima of her whirlwind year full of success, ahead of the awards show. "This is one of those things where it’s hard to put into words because it doesn’t really feel real. When you work for so long towards something and it actually happens it’s hard for me to switch gears because I've just been in the mode of trying to get to these places, getting on the award, and getting number one songs. Now that you're actually at the pit stop, 'We're here, we're making a stop.' It’s like 'Whoa!' It's really cool."

Barrett hit the ground running after finishing third on American Idol's season 16 in 2018. In October 2019, she and Foehner, who also competed on Idol, got married. They welcomed their daughter, Baylah, on January 18, of this year.

"I had no idea this was going to happen. Ever since getting off American Idol and hitting back at the ground, moving to Nashville and diving into everything and working hard to get a record deal, writing songs, and really getting into the community, the music industry has been absolutely wonderful towards me," she expresses. "Which is extremely humbling. I'm very blessed for that."

"It has been a crazy roller coaster the past three years," she notes, adding that she'll be "flying on cloud nine for a bit."

Amid the success, Barrett makes sure to show her fans that she's grounded and just like everyone else.

"I like to show people on social media [my real life]. Social media can portray just a lot of the positive things and the upsides…but not the nitty gritty of life." She wants people to know she still hustles, bustles, does the dishwasher, cooks, folds and "live the life of finding the balance of being a mom." "It’s fun to see how people are actually living behind being a performer," she adds.

As for how her life and marriage has changed since welcoming her baby girl, Barrett says, "A lot," but in a good way.

"When I first got married, that changed me in a lot of different ways. It makes you grow up in a lot of different ways and then when you have a baby you grow up in even more ways," she expresses. "My husband and I are very large Christians and we're very firm in our beliefs. There is a term in the Christian faith called 'dying to yourself' and definitely when you have a baby you learn to die to yourself and everything is just about them. And it's actually really helpful because you definitely become more selfless and help other people in a lot of different ways."

She adds that her daughter has helped her in a lot of different ways and it's "neat to see even myself evolve."

As for her first Mother's Day, it was "very sweet," with her husband giving her her favorite treats. "He was extremely helpful with the baby throughout the day and then he made me a little bath with candles and stuff there," she gushes. "And it was the perfect end to the day."

Up next for Barrett is hitting the road with her daughter. "What it'll kind of look like, we'll have a tour bus. We'll have our own home on wheels, which will be nice and exciting," she shares. "She will definitely be with us. I'm really excited for her to kind of be able to watch us on the side of the stage, and as she grows, become more aware of what we do and songs and things like that. And then eventually we can write songs about her and it will just be so sweet."

"I'm definitely looking forward to getting to now experience live shows and performances, and all of those things, with her with us," she notes. "She's a very lullaby baby right now. So she loves music and falls asleep to little music."

Catch Barrett at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, airing Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC.