Country singer Kelsea Ballerini got a musical surprise of a lifetime in the middle of a duet with Little Big Town when the vocal group changed up the lyrics to their hit “Girl Crush” to ask Ballerini mid-song if she would join the long-running country music show as a member.
The 25-year-old singer from Tennessee was invited to join Tuesday night (March 5) live during the Opry show from Nashville, Tennessee. The Grammy-nominated Ballerini, who will be the youngest current Opry member when she is formally inducted in April, broke out with her debut album For the First Time in 2015 with hit singles “Love Me Like You Mean It,” ″Peter Pan” and “Dibs.”
A shocked Ballerini told the crowd about coming to the Opry as a teenager to watch her favorite country stars perform, dreaming one day of doing it herself. After the curtain dropped, Ballerini shared hugs, tears and photos with her mother and her husband, fellow country singer Morgan Evans.
Ballerini told The Associated Press that she was already excited to get to sing with Little Big Town and had to immediately change her focus when they surprised her. “So I was so excited about it, so nervous cause I didn’t want to mess it up for them on that stage,” Ballerini said. “At the end they started singing my name and I thought they were going to say, ‘Kelsea, we have a girl crush.’ And they said ‘Will you join the Opry?’ And I had to completely change paths in my brain.”
Ballerini said the first time she performed at the Opry years ago, before she ever had a hit single, that she teared up as she walked on the stage.
“I do think that’s one of the beautiful things about the Opry,” Ballerini told the AP. “Cause every time I’ve gotten to play, there’s something for everyone. If you love traditional country, if you love pop country, if you love anything in between, there’s always something for everything.”
Ballerini said that she’s been checking off bucket list dreams since she moved to Nashville.
“The Grand Ole Opry, playing it was the first step,” Ballerini said. “And then joining has been the next step. That’s been on the goal list ever since I played it the first time. And I guess I get to check that off now.”