“We’re the same person, he’s just a boy”: Why Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett work as “CMA Fest” co-hosts

Bob D’Amico/ABC

Kelsea Ballerini steps up to the mic tonight to co-host ABC’s annual special taped at CMA Music Festival back in June. While it’s her first time hosting the three-hour extravaganza, her recent tourmate Thomas Rhett returns to helm the show for a second year.

The “Legends” hitmaker has an interesting theory as to why she and TR make such a good pair.

“Me and Thomas got to tour together earlier this year,” she explains. “I feel like we’re the same person, he’s just a boy. And so, we became such good friends and just bonded over so much. And he loves [my fiance] Morgan [Evans], I love [his wife] Lauren, and we’re all just really good friends.”

Kelsea already has one high-profile hosting gig under her belt, having emceed ABC’s Greatest Hits with Arsenio Hall last summer. The 23-year-old shares a similar kind of camaraderie with TR as she did with the talk show legend.

“It’s really nice just being able to co-host with someone that you’re comfortable with,” Kelsea says. “It was the same with Arsenio when I got to do that with him. You get to just have this synergy together that feels kind of effortless. It’s been really fun.”

You can check out all the music and star-studded fun when CMA Fest premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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