Kelsea Ballerini Recalls First Time Meeting Carrie Underwood

"I just blurted out, ‘Girl, you've got soul!’"

Written by Lauren Laffer
Kelsea Ballerini Recalls First Time Meeting Carrie Underwood
Kelsea Ballerini and Carrie Underwood; Photo courtesy Grand Ole Opry LLC. Chris Hollo, photographer

In the four years since releasing her debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” Kelsea Ballerini has gone on to accomplish many major milestones in her vibrant and budding career. In addition to scoring a slew of No.1 singles and award nominations, the songstress has headlined her own tours (her current of which is selling out left and right) and even became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

But it was watching another powerful woman in country that inspired Ballerini to pursue her dreams with her full heart and passion.

“I wouldn’t know what it looks like, to be a female in country music, without Carrie Underwood,” said the Tennessee native while backstage at the Opry ahead of her induction. “She is the one for me, that I’ve always looked up to, not only her music, but I think that she has the kindest heart. I think that she’s so poised. I think that she just does everything with grace, and I’ve always wanted to follow in those footsteps.”

Ballerini has studied Underwood’s illustrious career, even taking the time to watch the Oklahoma native’s Opry invitation.

“I remember when Randy Travis invited her to join the Opry, and watching that video over, and over again. There is just such a magical moment that was captured there… Actually, the first time I met Carrie was at the Opry, and I was a fan. I remember, I just went up to her, and I thought I was just gonna say, ‘Hi,’ and take a picture, like a normal person. Instead, I just blurted out, ‘Girl, you’ve got soul!,’ like, what?,” she recalled with a laugh.

She continued, “She doesn’t remember that, I don’t think, which is good. But yeah, so when she decided to be here, to do [my induction], it’s a big deal. She’s busy being famous, and she’s busy rehearsing for a massive world tour, and the fact that she A, loves the Opry, and B, loves women in country music enough to be here is a big deal, so I’m very excited.”

Her admiration for Underwood and the iconic institution spilled over into a special Opry-only moment, when the two women came together for a collaboration, singing “Walkaway Joe” by another female singer they both admire, Trisha Yearwood.

Ballerini will continue on for her headlining Miss Me More Tour before it wraps on May 11 in Fargo, ND. Underwood will soon embark on her massive Cry Pretty World Tour 360.