Shania Twain Honors Kelsea Ballerini with Sweet Note in TIME 100 Next: ‘She’s an Old Soul in Many Ways’

For TIME’s annual TIME100 Next cover story series, Shania Twain paid tribute to Kelsea Ballerini, who is among the 100 rising stars being honored.

Shania Twain Honors Kelsea Ballerini with Sweet Note in TIME 100 Next: ‘She’s an Old Soul in Many Ways’
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The country-pop star, 58, reflected on meeting the “If You Go Down” singer, 30, at an award show and being impressed with the singer-songwriter even from a young age. 

“She’s an old soul in many ways,” Twain said of Ballerini. “As a veteran songwriter, I’m always looking for authenticity, and I’m really inspired by clever songwriting — songwriting that is not only thought-provoking and meaningful but most of all original. Kelsea writes with all those qualities. She isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and really brave with her songwriting.”

The “You’re Still the One” artist also mentioned how “special” their friendship is with one another, and how “rare” that feels in the music industry. 

The Grammy winner concluded, “At this year’s CMT Awards, she performed with a full troop of drag queens as her back-up dancers, which was fabulous. She has a powerful sense of self in those moments: she knows exactly where her heart is, and she always leads with love and inclusivity.”

Shania Twain Calls Kelsea Ballerini an old soul

Ballerini shared the cover, which features her in an emerald green dress, on Instagram and expressed her gratitude in the caption. “for a girl that loves her words, this has me pretty speechless. what an incredible honor @time,” the country star wrote. 

Several famous friends commented on the post. Reese Witherspoon replied, “WOW!! So happy for you ????,” while country singer Carly Pearce wrote, “This picture!!!! ????.” The “Love Me Like You Mean It” artist’s boyfriend, actor Chase Stokes, also commented, “Turns 30, immediately drops a Time cover,” as the performer celebrated her birthday on Tuesday.

Twain has spoken highly of Ballerini in the past, and Ballerini has shared just how much of an icon she considers the “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” artist to be. 

"The fact that she even knows who I am still freaks me out," Ballerini said of Twain. "But the fact that someone that genuinely shaped me wanting to be a woman in entertainment, a songwriter, a businesswoman, someone who pushed boundaries, someone who blazed trails. I mean, she's it for me. You're it for me.”

Twain added, “I just thought this is a take-charge girl. She's writing this music. I could see the director artist behind the beautiful facade of the... I mean, she looks like a supermodel, but she delivers something deeper than that. It's very obvious. I was proud of her. I thought, 'Yeah, this is a star in the making."

They teamed up again in 2022 when the “Miss Me More” singer wore the “That Don’t Impress Me Much” star’s 1999 Grammy Awards gown to the Country Music Honors in Nashville.  

On Tuesday, Ballerini made her MTV VMAs debut with a performance of her ballad “Penthouse," which appears on her 2023 EP Rolling Up the Welcome Mat and was recently re-released as an expanded version in August.

The singer-songwriter will perform at TIME’s upcoming TIME100 Next event on Oct. 24 in New York City, celebrating the honorees. 

Other honorees for TIME100 Next include fellow musicians Kali Uchis, Noah Kahan, Peso Pluma and Tems, actors Emma Corrin, Lily Gladstone, Paul Mescal and Tyler James Williams, among other performers, athletes and change-makers.