Kenny Chesney surprised Kelsea Ballerini and her fans when he joined her on stage at her during her Heartfirst Tour stop at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, California on Thursday evening (Oct. 6).
While these moments are typically planned, it appears this one came as a total shock to Ballerini. In a video shared to Ballerini’s Instagram stories, Chesney could be seen on stage with a mic saying, “Hey Los Angeles, I’m Kenny. Good to see you guys!”
Ballerini can be seen on the other side of the stage crouched down on the ground with her jaw dropped open. At one point, it appears she mouths out, “what the f**k.”
Finally, she makes her way over the eight-time Entertainer of the Year to greet him with a hug.
The pair went on to sing their chart-topping collaboration, “Half Of My Hometown” as fans joined in for a giant sing-along.
As the song came to a close, Ballerini said, “I’m really hard to surprise because I ask a lot of questions and I swear….NO IDEA!”
After the show, Ballerini took to Instagram stories to share her excitement.
“I quite literally just got off the stage at the Greek and not only did the crowd get a surprise, but y’al, I got a surprise,” she said with a huge smile on her face.
“We had no fun tonight,” Chesney quipped from the other side of the room.
The East Tennessee natives last 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.”
“And when I heard this next song, this person and this song truly validated my dream and I’m very proud to stand up here. We shared a No. 1 record this year and we have yet to celebrate it, so we get to celebrate it in Nashville here at Nissan tonight!” Chesney added as he welcomed Ballerini to the stage.
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 song marks Ballerini’s seventh No. 1 hit, following “Hole In The Bottle,” and Chesney’s 35th, following the emotional, “Knowing You.” “Half Of My Hometown” has also won two CMA Awards, including Musical Event of the Year and Video of the Year as well as was nominated for an ACM Award.
“Half Of My Hometown” speaks to life after high school and shares how you still feel connected to the place you grew up, no matter if you stay or leave.
After writing the heartfelt song during a songwriting retreat at the beach, Ballerini’s co-writers insisted that she text it to Chesney. Even though it was 2 am, Ballerini sent the text.
Chesney later recalled Ballerini’s message during an interview on Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen.
“She just called me one day and she goes, ‘I’m calling you to poke the bear,’ and I went, ‘What are you talking about?’ She says, ‘I’m getting ready to send you a song. I want you to listen to it and think about singing on it.’ And so I said, ‘yeah, of course, send me the song,’” Chesney explains. “And I listened to it and it was hard to listen to because it was so beautiful and it was so much about not only her life, but it was about my life and the same roads we drove down and I knew I wanted to sing on it.”
Chesney went on to admit that deciding to be part of this song was the right choice because of the meaning it holds for him as a fellow East Tennessee native. It’s not every day that Chesney says yes to collaborating with an artist on an album, but this was an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up.
“I’m really proud of it,” Chesney continued. “And I told her when we were done with it, that I was glad she asked me, but I’m very proud that I’m on that song with her. If the song was terrible, I wouldn’t sing on it, because trust me, I get asked a lot to sing on a lot of records and I turn them down because the song just isn’t perfect for me to sing on. But when I heard ‘Half Of My Hometown’ I just I went, ‘Yep, I’m going to sing on this song.’
Ballerini later brought the song to life with a cinematic music video that served as a tribute to her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The personal clip gives fans a look at what may have happened if Ballerini stayed in her hometown instead of moving to Nashville to pursue her musical dreams. The cinematic clip opens with a young Ballerini saying “goodbye” to her friends as she makes her way to Nashville, however, the truck ends up getting unloaded and she moves back into her childhood home.
Personal home videos of Ballerini are also featured as the “what if” story unfolds before viewers’ eyes.
Kelsea Ballerini is currently on tour in support of her new album, Subject To Change, while Kenny Chesney is enjoying some time off the road following his record-breaking Here And Now Tour.