Kelsea Ballerini is yet another example that a CMA nod for Best New Artist can still be a long time coming. In her case, the 23-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee, native has been writing songs since age 13 and had a Top 5 hit, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” by 20. Although she eventually lost to Texan Maren Morris, Ballerini’s two nominations this year (the other was for Best Female Vocalist) came just as her biggest single to date, “Peter Pan,” was on its way to becoming her first No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. However, all three of her singles from 2015 debut LP The First Time topped the Country Airplay chart, suggesting listeners have only begun to fall for Ballerini’s sly wordplay and ebullient pop-country sound.