Kelsea Ballerini and Chase Stokes proved they’re more in love than ever while heating up the red carpet at the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday, November 8.
Ballerini, 30, Stokes, 31, cozied up while posing for photographers ahead of the annual awards show, which was held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Ballerini channeled old Hollywood glam in a light pink satin Christian Siriano dress with a high slit. She complemented the look with a bold red lip and wore her blonde locks in soft curls.
Stokes, meanwhile, was classic with a twang in an all-black suit with contrasting velvet fabric below the jacket’s lapels that honored the country music genre.
Ballerini is nominated for two awards at this year’s ceremony: Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for her February EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat. The recognition comes two years after her first CMA win in 2021 when she took home the trophies for Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year for her hit single “Half of My Hometown,” featuring fellow Tennessee native Kenny Chesney.
“I’m so proud that my first two CMAs are for a song that represents my roots and also celebrates the dream that made me leave to chase it down,” Ballerini said in a November 2021 statement. “I remember growing up in Knoxville watching the CMAs…So this feels surreal and special to share this with so many of my songwriting friends, and my hometown hero Kenny Chesney. I can’t think of a better moment to keep on my shelf forever.”
Ballerini’s personal life has gone through some changes since her first CMA wins. She and ex-husband Morgan Evans split in August 2022 after nearly five years of marriage. The pair finalized their divorce two months later and Ballerini moved on with Stokes, whom she was first linked to in late 2022.
The twosome made their official red carpet debut as a couple at the CMT Music Awards in April, where Stokes was caught dancing and singing along during Ballerini’s performance of “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too).” He’s since been spotted supporting her in the crowd as she travels across the country for her Heartfirst Tour, and has been by her side at various awards shows.
Earlier this year, Ballerini explained the pair’s decision to forego privacy when it comes to their relationship. “The thing that we’ve decided, and to each their own, is when you’re with someone that you feel secure with and that you’re proud to be with, why not share it?” she told StyleCaster in September. “He’s also a Virgo; we’re both Labrador Retrievers in human form. It doesn’t take much conversation to be on the same page. It’s been half a year and it’s been great.”
The duo’s flirty — and public — romance has caused them to quickly become a fan-favorite celebrity couple. While speaking to Nylon last month, Ballerini shared why she and Stokes make such a great match.
“We are both very much so golden-retriever energy most of the time, but we both have a little bite in us, and we’re both incredibly driven,” she told the outlet in October. “He is the first person I’ve been in a relationship with that I feel like is not my complete opposite.”
The “Penthouse” singer also reflected on the early days of their relationship, saying she felt instantly connected to the Outer Banks star even during their first date in Los Angeles.
“I really did [know] as soon as I met him,” she said of their connection. “And maybe that sounds like I’ve learned zero things, but I’ve always been a heart-first girl and the truth is it’s never led me astray. I’ve always been where I needed to be while I needed to be there.”
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