Kelsea Ballerini is nominated for Best New Artist at the 2017 Grammy Awards. For the rising star, a nomination in the all-genre category is affirmation that her hard work is paying off.

"I feel like it just shows how awesome and cool and big country music is," Ballerini tells The Boot. "Especially for me, working on my new album and just kind of thinking ahead to this year and what it holds, it’s really validating to feel that people do music and love music and fight for music for a living have listened to what I do and liked it enough to put me in the Top 5 this year, [and] makes me feel really encouraged going into this year.

"Everyone in the category is actually, truly, really, really good, so I think it’s anyone game," she adds. "It’s going to be great."

Ballerini is also thrilled to share the Best New Artist category with fellow up-and-coming country star Maren Morris.

"It’s been really cool to walk this with her," Ballerini says. "It’s really cool to carry the torch with her."

Twenty-three-year-old Ballerini doesn't have a whole lot of time to dwell on her Grammys nominations, though: She's been hard at work putting the finishing touches on her upcoming sophomore album.

"When I hop on the plane to go to the Grammys, it has to be done," Ballerini says. "I’ve been writing twice a day and doing vocals at night; it’s all I’m doing in my life right now.

"I’m so excited about it," Ballerini continues. "I thought that I was attached to my first one, and this one is even more so; it’s, like, me in music form. I think it’s going to be a lot more bolder, a lot lighter and a whole lot darker than my first album."

Ballerini will head out on the road in 2017 with both Thomas Rhett, on his Home Team Tour, and Lady Antebellum, on their You Look Good World Tour; a list of all of her upcoming shows is available on her website.

The 59th annual Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. The Late Late Show host James Corden will host the televised ceremony, which will begin at 8PM ET on CBS; the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony will begin at 3:30PM ET and be available to stream online.

The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about country winners, fashion and moments at the 2017 Grammy Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to for the latest Grammys headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.

2017 Grammy Awards Nominees: The Country Surprises and Snubs