Kelsea Ballerini on Carrie Underwood: 'She Has the Kindest Heart'

Kelsea Ballerini just became the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, after being inducted by her own role model, Carrie Underwood, who she admires both personally and professionally.

"I wouldn't know what it looks like to be a female in country music without Carrie Underwood," Ballerini told and other media backstage prior to her induction. "She's the one for me, that I've always looked up to. Not only her music, but I think she has the kindest heart. I think that she's so poised, I think that she just does everything with grace. I've always kind of wanted to follow in those footsteps. I remember when Randy Travis invited her to join the Opry, and watching that video over and over again. There was just such a magical moment that was captured there."

It's fitting that Underwood inducted Ballerini, since the Opry is where Ballerini and Underwood first met.

"The first time I met Carrie was at the Opry," Ballerini recalled. "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 got soul.' I was like, what? She doesn't remember that, I don't think, which is good. When she decided to be here tonight to [induct me], it's a big deal. She's busy being famous. She's busy rehearsing for a massive world tour.

"The fact that she A, loves the Opry, and B, love women in country music enough to be here tonight is a big deal," she added.

Ballerini also honored Underwood from stage, during her induction.

"I really wouldn't know what it looks to be woman in country music, without Carrie Underwood," Ballerini acknowledged. "Every other female, that is on the wall in the Women of Country dressing room, but especially [Underwood]. I've watched you since you started.

"And, not only do I look up to for your talent and songs, but your grace an your poise and your heart," she continued. "And, if I can be half the artist you are, I feel like I'm doing something right. So, thank you for making time tonight, to do this."


At 25 years old, Ballerini is the youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Ballerini is currently on her Miss Me More Tour with Brett Young. Find dates at her website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez