Kelsea Ballerini channeled country’s rebel spirit in Texas last night by inviting Manila Luzon, Jan Sport, Olivia Lux, and Kennedy Davenport to perform her hit “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” at the 2023 CMT Awards.
Ballerini really went there later in the three-hour telecast, when she chose four “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queens to perform with her as she sang “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too).” That song, off her 2022 album “Subject to Change,” is Ballerini’s anthem of female friendship — and, with the way the CMT Awards routine played out, she very much seemed to be counting drag performers as among those friends. The performance was playful and ostensibly non-political, and in a different year might not have raised very many shaved or unshaved eyebrows. In spring 2023, it was hard to read it as anything other than a statement of: If drag queens are brought down, the rest of us will be dragged down with them.
Naturally, the haters were devastated to see drag celebrated and are busy clutching their pearls on social media.
When asked about how to stand strong despite the wave of anti-drag legislation in red states, Texan and Season 7 contestant Kennedy Davenport told the Austin American-Statesman:
“Continue to be your authentic self. We’re still motivating young people, we’re still inspiring them, we’re still lifting them up because at the end of the day, we have a calling and we have a job as drag queens. That’s what we’re here to do and people don’t understand that. We have a lot of people coming to us, you know, telling us how much we’ve saved their lives and kept them from depression. Keep your focus, stay strong, and just be careful what you do.”
Jan said on Instagram: “If you go down, I’m going down too!!! Our performance on the @cmt awards was nothing short of a fierce statement. Thank you @kelseaballerini for making herstory and having us queens with you! We are forever grateful for you, your heart, and your art!”
Images: YouTube / CMT