Kenny Chesney Reveals Kelsea Ballerini As Special Guest For 2023 I Go Back Tour: ‘There Was No Other Choice’

Just moments after announcing his 2023 I Go Back Tour, Kenny Chesney revealed that his longtime friend, “Half Of My…


Lauren Jo Black

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November 21, 2022

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Kenny Chesney; Photo by Jill Trunnell, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Just moments after announcing his 2023 I Go Back Tour, Kenny Chesney revealed that his longtime friend, “Half Of My Hometown” collaborator, and fellow East Tennessee native, Kelsea Ballerini, will be joining him on the road. 

“Kelsea understands everything about where I come from, because she’s from there, too,” Chesney shared in a statement. “She knows how hard it is to leave, how much you miss all those things that make you who you are… but also how the only way to chase the kind of dream she has is to do just that. It’s a tough call when you love home the way we both do, but for kids like us, there was never really a choice.

Kenny Chesney, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards
Kenny Chesney, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo Courtesy ACM Awards

“When she texted me to sing on the song she’d written with some of our friends, I said, ‘Let me hear it,’ knowing she knew everything about who I was,” he continued. “As soon as I heard that first verse, I was in. And I have been one of Kelsea’s biggest fans ever since. She’s a writer, a girl who sings from her heart and isn’t afraid to honor where she comes from. To me, there was no other choice for this tour.”

After teaming up for their award-winning collab, the pair formed a friendship and Ballerini says the opportunity to tour with Chesney was a welcome one.  

 “Music has taken me so many incredible places,” Ballerini said. “Around the world, singing with some of my heroes in pop, alternative and contemporary music, but singing with Kenny is going home. He was the only voice I heard on ‘half of my hometown,’ and when he comes in, it’s just like hitting the Knoxville city limits. So to be able to go out to those cities like the place he and I grew up with an artist who’s accomplished what he has, it’s a lot like going home.”

Kenny Chesney, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Catherine Powell
Kenny Chesney, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Catherine Powell

Earlier this year, the East Tennessee natives joined forces to perform “Half Of My Hometown” together during Chesney’s sold-out show at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium on May 28. It was an emotional moment as Chesney reflected on what being a part of the song meant to him. 

“When I moved to this town, first of all, I grew up in East Tennessee and she grew up in East Tennessee,” Chesney said. “We drove down some of the same roads together. We went to a lot of the same places to eat with our families. We listen to the same radio station and listened a lot of people tell us we couldn’t do certain things that we have dreamed in our life, but I came to this town with a head full of dreams and a heart full of music.”

Chesney recently surprised Ballerini during her Heartfirst Tour stop at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California on Thursday evening (Oct. 6), where the pair also performed their chart-topping collaboration. 

Co-written by Ballerini alongside Jimmy Robbins, Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman, “Half Of My Hometown” appears as a duet with Chesney on her third studio album, kelsea.

The I Go Back tour will visit 21 cities that helped launched Chesney’s career. 

Kicking off on March 25 in State College, PA, the I Go Back 2023 Tour finds the eight-time Entertainer of the Year going back to where he started in an effort to honor his fans – No Shoes Nation – in the best way he knows how. 

The tour comes after a record-breaking year for Chesney, who played 21 NFL stadiums this past summer. 

“When a year is as hot and alive as 2022 was,” Chesney explains, “you don’t want to try to recapture that magic. Or maybe it’s me. I still have the sounds of diesel engines and No Shoes Nation in my head – and that made me ask, ‘What else could I do? What would be something that would put me every bit as much in the music and give No Shoes Nation another reason to believe? How can we reach those people who might not come to stadium shows, who live a little off the obvious path, but who love this music every bit as much…

“And that’s when it hit me: ‘I Go Back.’ That song is about holding all those things that shaped you very close, recognizing how special they are – and keeping them alive any way you can. So, I decided that rather than just go repeat what we did, I wanted to take this band and these songs to a lot of the cities we played on our way up! Let’s call the tour I Go Back – and do just that.”

Kenny Chesney; Photo by Jill Trunnell
Kenny Chesney; Photo by Jill Trunnell

Chesney, who has earned the nickname of “King of Summer” due to his annual summer treks, took a trip down memory lane when planning the tour.

“I remember coming up, the craziness of so many of those dates,” Chesney shares. “Markets where people were using chain-cutters to get onto the lawn because we were so sold out in the Carolinas… and that’s a kind of energy that should never be left behind. For all those fans – based on how good last year felt – I want to bring what was coming off that stage to you, where you are, so we can all have that kind of experience together!”

While he will be playing smaller venues throughout the tour, the superstar promises to bring the same stadium intensity to the stage each and every night. 

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“These songs time stamp people’s lives,” Chesney says. “They put people in their lives, but they also serve as the touchstone for memories in the making. For people to come out and either live these songs again, or hear them for the first time? Who knows what will happen? But I know whether it’s ‘American Kids,’ ‘Get Along’ or ‘You And Tequila,’ every single person knows exactly what we’re singing about and singing along to together.”

I Go Back 2023 is Presented by Blue Chair Bay Rum. American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets in select markets before the general public beginning Wednesday, November 23 at 10 a.m. local time through Thursday, December 1 at 10 p.m. local time. 

Kenny Chesney; Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp
Kenny Chesney; Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for dcp

Chesney recently wrapped his record-breaking Here And Now Tour, which sold over 1.2 million tickets, marking his highest-grossing tour ever with $135 million, according to Pollstar.

The East Tennessee native’s success on his Here And Now Tour placed him at No. 7 on Pollstar’s third quarter recap of ticket revenue. The tour included a 26-song set list and featured support from Old Dominion, Dan + Shay, and Carly Pearce.

Kenny Chesney I Go Back Tour

March 25 – State College, PA – Bryce Jordan Center

March 30 – Wichita, KS – INTRUST Bank Arena

April 1 – Oklahoma City, OK – Paycom Center

April 6 – Uncasville, CT – Mohegan Sun Arena

April 8 – Wilkes-Barre Township, PA – Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza

April 12 – Birmingham, AL – Legacy Arena at the BJCC

April 14 – Jacksonville, FL – Daily’s Place Amphitheater

April 16 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Tortuga*

April 25 – Lexington, KY – Rupp Arena

April 27 – Greenville, SC – Bon Secours Wellness Arena

April 29 – Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum

May 4 – Moline, IL – Vibrant Arena at The Mark

May 6 – Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena

May 9 – Grand Forks, ND – The Alerus Center

May 11 – Sioux Falls, SD – Denny Sanford Premier Center

May 13 – Lincoln, NE – Pinnacle Bank Arena

May 18 – Fort Wayne, IN – Allen County War Memorial Coliseum

May 20 – Evansville, IN – Ford Center

May 25 – Charleston, SC – Credit One Stadium

May 27 – Orange Beach, AL – The Wharf

July 22 – Des Moines, IA – Hy-Vee Indy Race*

*previously announced

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.