Rising Star Kelsea Ballerini Gets Hugs and Advice from Legend Loretta Lynn at “Billboard”’s Women in Music Gala


Excitement ran high Friday morning at Billboard’s Women in Music gala in New York City — so much so that even Legend award recipient Loretta Lynn seemed at a loss for words.

“Well, it’s just great,” the Coal Miner’s Daughter said. “I just feel great about it. What else can I say? I mean, it’s just great!”

For Rising Star honoree Kelsea Ballerini, the ceremony was even more special because it focuses on what women have contributed to the music industry.

“It’s really honestly crazy… I remember starting this whole journey 14 months ago and deciding that I just wanted to be about females and empowerment, and to be honored for that today is a big deal,” she reflects. “This is my first award ever, so this is a big deal today, yeah!”

Martina McBride, who was on hand to present Loretta her honor, imagines we probably don’t even know the debt women in music owe the living legend.

“I’m so happy that they’re honoring Loretta because she has really just paved the way and blazed a trail. I think back to how she did things compared to how we did things and it was so much harder then and so much uncharted territory. And so we really wouldn’t be here without her,” she says.

For the four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, getting to honor Loretta is even more special because the two are such good friends.

“My favorite times with Loretta are just hanging out with her. I’ve been able to be with her a lot backstage and on my bus. We did a couple shows together this year. She just has tons of stories. She’s very honest and real and every time I’m with her, I just want to record it, so that I don’t forget anything!” she smiles.

Since Kelsea had never met Loretta before, she was looking forward to getting up close and personal with her fellow honoree. “She’s the other country girl here, so I’m totally gonna hug her today!” she said excitedly.

And it turns out the Legend may have a little advice for the Rising Star.

“Let her work her butt off like I have and she’ll be doing the same thing!” she quips, referring to accepting the Billboard honor.

You can experience the Billboard Women in Music gala December 18, when it airs as a special on Lifetime at 8 p.m. ET.

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