“I grew up going to Dollywood. Every Christmas they would have a parade, and she would always be there,” the East Tennessee native tells Rolling Stone Country. “So I even told her, ‘I’ve kinda met you before. I was always at your parade!'”
Still, the CMA New Artist of the Year nominee admits feeling overwhelmingly nervous before Parton sat beside her in matching rocking chairs for their informal interview. But it didn’t take long for the nerves to subside to laughter.
“My favorite part was when I asked, ‘How do you play guitar with your big nails?’ And she said, ‘Pretty good,'” Ballerini recalls with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Drop the mic!'”
Watch above as the two talk about their mutual Volunteer State heritage, Parton’s first musical hero and her multi-faceted career. They also play “Real or Fake” with a bunch of bizarre song titles – and Ballerini proves her country smarts.
The “Yeah Boy” singer compares her 70-year-old hero to one of her 20-something-year-old friends. “She was just so genuine. I feel like she’s probably the same person every day, no matter who she meets, no matter what kind of mood she’s in,” says Ballerini. “Taylor [Swift] is the only other person I know like that.”
Parton’s Cracker Barrel Front Porch Series also includes clips with Cam, RaeLynn and Lauren Alaina. Watch them all here. This newest clip comes as both its stars are celebrating major milestones: Parton’s Pure & Simple album debuted at Number One in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. And with “Peter Pan,” Ballerini is the first female artist ever to have the first three consecutive singles from a debut album hit Number One.