How Kelsea Ballerini Will Co-Host CMT Music Awards Remotely After Testing Positive for COVID-19 (Exclusive)

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Kelsea Ballerini
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT)

Kelsea Ballerini is shifting her hosting duties to remote for Monday's 2022 CMT Music Awards after testing positive for COVID-19.

"CMT Music Awards co-host Kelsea Ballerini tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, she is asymptomatic and remains excited to co-host the show (remotely)," a CMT spokesperson told ET in a statement. “Kelsea’s good friend, Kane Brown, who co-hosted with her last year, has graciously agreed to step in alongside Anthony Mackie. The three of them have lots of surprises up their sleeves and fans can look forward to an epic show!” 

The awards show will take place at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, and while Mackie and Brown will be co-hosting in person at the ceremony, Ballerini will be at home. 

Ballerini spoke to ET’s Rachel Smith about how she’s feeling about working through the sudden change. “I’m going good, I'm feeling better every day,” she said.  “I think more than anything I just feel bummed. I'm like super in my feels... disappointed but it's nice to still be part of the show and very, very grateful for Kane for just swooping in and saving the day.” 

Ballerini added, “I'm excited that I still get to be there in spirit for sure.” 

The 28-year-old singer isn’t missing a beat. Ballerini, who is also nominated at this year's awards show, said that CMT hooked her up so her performance can still be grand, even if it’s happening in her backyard. “They are breaking [off] a piece of the red carpet for me,” she said. “They are bringing the set to my backyard so I can perform, and they have a whole set in my living room where I can still host. I am all up in it.” 

Although it’s coming from the backyard, Ballerini teased that she'll still be giving a great performance.  

“I’m singing my new song, 'Heart First,'” she said. “It’s a TV debut performance and it'll be in my backyard, and we've come up with a really creative way where we still get to make it special.” 

In addition, Ballerini promises her five wardrobe changes are still happening. "I'm not going to lie. I have to overcompensate for the fact that I'm not there,” the co-host told ET. “So, I really have some looks planned.” 

For Brown, who is also nominated and performing this year, he’s looking forward to stepping in the ring to host for the third time and bring the laughs with Mackie.  

“It’s going to be fun,” he told ET. “I’m excited. I’m going to go home and practice my lines and make [Anthony] have to practice his. I think this will be a funny."

Mackie is ready and has the boots to prove it. “I got some new boots,” he told ET. “Some new snake skin boots.”  

The CMT Music Awards, which is country music's only awards show that has fans decide all the winners, will air live tonight, April 11, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on CBS and will also be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. 

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