A positive COVID-19 test kept Kelsea Ballerini from attending the 2022 CMT Music Awards in person, but she still got to have her big moment on stage, debuting her new single, "Heartfirst," virtually from her backyard during the awards show on Monday night (April 11).

While the setup was easily the most downplayed of the whole night — Ballerini basically played on a flat slab of rock in front of a set of pipe and drape in the background — she still brought tons of charm and presence to her brand-new tune.

Ballerini says she was heartbroken to get the COVID-19 diagnosis a few days ago. She told fans on Instagram that she feels much better and the CMT crew has done a fantastic job of bringing the show to her, where possible. That includes setting up cameras in her living room so she can still introduce bits, and of course the impromptu backyard setup for her performance of "Heartfirst."

Ballerini dropped "Heartfirst" just a few days before the awards show. A co-write with Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild, the song is an upbeat and breezy ode to giddy new love. Before she released it, she described the song as a "bop," saying that its bubblegum, hooky appeal was a deliberate left turn from the introspection of "Half of My Hometown."

Before she learned she'd have to sit out the show, Ballerini had a busy evening planned. She was a three-time nominee, earning nods for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year for "Half of My Hometown" with Kenny Chesney, plus CMT Performance of the Year for "I Quit Drinking," her duet with LANY's Paul Klein.

Ballerini was also one of three hosts for the show. Originally, she was planning to split hosting duties with actor Anthony Mackie. After her positive COVID-19 test, however, Kane Brown — who co-hosted the CMTs with Ballerini last year — signed on to help out, with Ballerini still doing her part to co-host remotely.

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