K Michelle on Performing With Jelly Roll at CMAs: 'That’s My Outlaw Brother’


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K Michelle is ready for her country closeup. The former R&B artist and reality star is leaning into her southern roots with a new album, a new name and a CMA Awards collaboration with the night’s Best New Artist winner Jelly Roll.

Under the alias Puddin, the Memphis native has released her first country song, “Tennessee.” It’s the debut single from her forthcoming country album — a move that feels totally natural to the star.

“It’s part of who I am,” the singer, 41, exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday, November 8. “It’s so crazy when I talk to people and they’re like, ‘How does this transition?’ There’s no transition, let’s be honest. This is who I am. This is how I was born; this is how I was raised.”

K Michelle (real name Kimberly Michelle Pate) made her Music City debut on country music’s largest stage on Wednesday night when she joined Jelly Roll for a stirring performance of The Judds’ “Love Can Build a Bridge.” It was a full-circle moment for the musician, who also performs the song alongside Jelly and the Fisk Jubilee Singers on the recently released album A Tribute to The Judds.

2023 CMA Awards - Arrivals 378 401 Kelsea Ballerini

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Fans can expect the biggest names in country music to show Us their fierce fashion sense at the 2023 CMA Awards in Nashville on Wednesday, November 8.  From glittering gowns and flirty frocks to stylish suits, the Bridgestone Arena red carpet will be one to remember. Aside from serving up fashionable eye candy, the CMAs […]

“The first country that I got into was The Judds,” she said. “The first tape I ever got was The Judds and it was ‘Love Can Build a Bridge.’”

As for sharing the stage with Jelly Roll, that’s all in the musical family for K Michelle.

“That’s my outlaw brother. I understand him,” she shared. “We are unusual suspects in country music. I know his whole journey, his struggle. We’re open books. We prevail, we do what we want to do, but most importantly we love the music. The best thing is that we have a mutual respect for each other, and [this pairing] was a match made in heaven.”

The 57th Annual CMA Awards - Show, K Michelle and Jelly Roll
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

The performance was a stunning tribute to musical matriarch Naomi Judd, who passed away in 2022. With a crowd that included Judd’s daughter and bandmate Wynonna in attendance, K Michelle joined Jelly Roll to belt her way through one of The Judd’s most memorable hits.

Taking the stage in feathers and rhinestones, it was easy to imagine the former R&B artist as every bit the country star. Her powerful adlibs brought the crowd to its feet for a standing ovation before the performance had even ended. It was a moment filled with emotion for the performers and audience alike.

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Country music stars are celebrating big wins at the 2023 CMA Awards. This year’s ceremony, which takes place on Wednesday, November 8, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, is being hosted by NFL legend Peyton Manning and country music’s own Luke Bryan for the second year in a row. In addition to his hosting duties, […]

“For me, country music has always been about storytelling and about the feel of it. How it feels,” she says, adding, “I am so blessed and so excited to honor Naomi.”

For more from Nashville, check out Us Weekly’s VIP Guide to Music City.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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