Kelsea Ballerini Celebrates Her CMT Awards Plans With Surprise For Carrie Underwood

Kelsea Ballerini has made no secret of the fact that she's a major fan of Carrie Underwood's, having praised the All-American Girl on multiple occasions over the years. The first time Ballerini met Underwood was actually backstage at one of her Grand Ole Opry shows, which she attended as a fan, though the "Roses" singer admitted she didn't exactly play it cool. "I remember I just went up to her and thought I was just gonna say 'Hi' and take a picture like a normal person and instead, I just blurted out, 'Girl, you got soul!' I was like, 'What?!'" she told The Boot in 2019. Awks. 

Luckily for Ballerini though, Underwood didn't remember the moment and it certainly didn't stop her from being a massive fan of her fellow country music star. "She's the one, for me, that I've always looked up to, not only in her music, but I think she has the kindest heart. I think that she's so poised," Ballerini said, adding, "I think she's done everything with grace, and I've always wanted to follow in those footsteps." That all turned into what Oprah Winfrey would call a full circle moment too, as it was Underwood who had the honor of inducting Ballerini into the Grand Ole Opry in 2019, something that had the "Dibs" singer in tears.

Well, fast-forward three years and it was Ballerini's turn to surprise Underwood on stage — and she had not one, but two very important reasons for doing so.

Kelsea Ballerini presented Carrie Underwood with a bedazzled belt buckle

Kelsea Ballerini was the surprise guest as Carrie Underwood's "Denim And Rhinestones Tour" blew through Austin, Texas, on November 2, and she bestowed Underwood with a very special honor. Footage from the gig shared to Twitter by @RickyG_TV showed Ballerini handing over a huge belt buckle decorated in denim and rhinestones (plus pink fringe across the bottom!) to Underwood as she asked fans, "Did you guys know, in the history of the CMT Awards, this queen has the reigning highest number of CMT Awards ever?" As the crowd cheered, Ballerini announced Underwood was a 25-time winner (which Billboard reported makes her the most awarded artist in the awards' history). "That's quite the belt buckle!" the "Hate My Heart" singer admitted.

But that wasn't Ballerini's only reason for stepping on stage. She also confirmed that the 2023 CMT Awards would be coming live from Austin's Moody Center (where Underwood was performing), revealing she'll be one of the co-hosts while Underwood will perform. Exciting news all round, then!

Though Ballerini didn't stick around to perform with Underwood like she did at the Grand Ole Opry in 2019 (when they covered "Walkaway Joe"), she clearly had a pretty great time watching the show. The latter shared photos from her gig on Instagram on November 3, and the former commented on the post, "literally the best show i've ever seen" alongside a heart eye emoji. Queens supporting queens? We love to see it!