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Inside the Billboard + NMPA Grammy Week Showcase: Noah Kahan, Kelsea Ballerini & More

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As always, NMPA president David Israelite kicked off its annual Grammy week showcase (in partnership with Billboard) with a gentle reminder: The bar will close during performances, and guests are expected to remain silent.

It’s all part of the NMPA’s ethos to better support songwriters, and throughout the night, attendees also had the pleasure of watching songwriters support one another. At one table sat Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey and Kelsea Ballerini. Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson and hit songwriter Jessie Jo Dillon were seated to their right, with Dan Nigro and Chappell Roan seated just behind and Leon Thomas and his mother nearby.

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Throughout the intimate and star-studded evening on Wednesday (Jan. 31), the audience was treated to performances by best new artist nominees Jelly Roll and Noah Kahan, rising pop star Conan Gray and country star Kelsea Ballerini — plus an impassioned speech from Del Rey about Vanguard Award recipient Antonoff, during which she couldn’t help but announce her upcoming country album Lasso, out this September.

Kahan, who was being honored with the Rising Star award, joked before his set that “I’ve been around longer than this [award title] would suggest … Don’t tell the Grammys.” Later, Nigro contested his own award title, saying, “I don’t consider myself a hitmaker” — though his track record on the charts proves otherwise.

Dillon — who is Grammy nominated for songwriter of the year alongside Edgar Barrera, Shane McAnally, Justin Tranter and Theron Thomas — summarized the evening best while accepting her Breakthrough Songwriter award. “There is no music without songs and no songs without songwriters — and we deserve to be compensated fairly.”

As for each performer, they all shared a similar sentiment about the life-changing power of a hit — and how they would never have gotten there where they are today without their incredible and trusted co-writers.

“Our community is really interesting and there’s a lot of anxiety sometimes,” shared Antonoff during the night’s final speech. “I feel very very proud to be here.”

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