Kelsea Ballerini Reveals the Late-Night Advice Shania Twain Gave Her

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)

They say never meet your heroes, but for Kelsea Ballerini, disregarding this advice was among the best decisions she’s ever made. Her hero, Shania Twain, was every bit as incredible as Ballerini dreamed she would. And to make the interaction even sweeter, Twain found the younger artist charming as well.

The country music stars became fast friends and even created a song together, the 2020 hit “hole in the bottle”. In a recent interview with Variety, Kelsea Ballerini revealed that their bond remains as strong as ever. In fact, when Ballerini was faced with the difficult decision to end her marriage to fellow country star Morgan Evans, Shania Twain was among the first she turned to.

“I’ve known her for a couple years now,” Ballerini explained. “And we’ve had a really beautiful mentor -mentee relationship. This conversation was before the news came out about [the divorce], but I was experiencing it and I needed advice.”

“I sat on her hotel room balcony for a couple of hours and she just was really honest and open and warm and lovely,” the 29-year-old singer continued. “Right now, I have fewer artist friendships than I’ve ever had, but the ones that I do have are actual genuine friendships. I put her in that category.”

During that conversation, Shania Twain gave her protege an invaluable piece of advice. “‘You owe people music, and that’s it,'” Kelsea Ballerini recalled.

Kelsea Ballerini Discusses Her Shania Twain Tributes

As one of Shania Twain’s biggest fans, it should come as no surprise that Kelsea Ballerini’s newest album, Subject to Change, includes a song directly inspired by Shania‘s signature sound. The song, entitled “I Can’t Help Myself,” is an homage to her childhood (and adulthood) hero.

“I’ve never done a modulation before,” Ballerini explained of the song. “I’ve never done a song in two keys. That’s a very ‘90s country thing. But then, obviously, the whole record is inspired by ‘90s music, specifically women in country.”

“And we were like, ‘Guys, how do we not obviously step on Shania and Mutt [Lange, Twain’s former husband and producer] and what they did, but pay homage to what they did?'”

“So we took every page out of their book,” Ballerini said. “And Shania’s my queen. Everyone knows it. My God, what an incredible artist. And the more I get to know her, the more I’m like, ‘Of course, you’re Shania Twain. You couldn’t be cooler.'”

Kelsea Ballerini also paid homage to Shania Twain at the 2022 ACM Honors in Nashville. The “I Quit Drinking” singer performed a rendition of the Shania classic “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” complete with a Shania-inspired outfit. Ballerini rocked a black mini dress, knee-high boots, and a top hat on stage, replicating Shania’s iconic music video look.

“I was like, if I’m gonna do ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman,’ I want her Vegas dancers shirtless on the stage of the Ryman,” Ballerini explained. “That’s what she did for country. She pushed every boundary, and that needs to be recognized.”