Post pop-crossover, Taylor Swift has kept close Nashville ties and plenty of country tunes on her personal playlist. Just watch her during any country performance at an awards show, and, chances are, she’s belting every lyric from her front-row seat. Case in point: last month’s Billboard Music Awards, when the cameras kept panning to a singing, swaying Swift during Little Big Town’s performance of “Girl Crush” with Faith Hill. The 25-year-old superstar was not only enjoying a favorite song, but also supporting some longtime friends.
Swift invited those four friends, LBT’s Kimberly Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook, to her sold-out show in Pittsburgh Saturday night.
“I’ve been in the music industry for about ten years, and one of the first bands that I ever met was one of the nicest bands and one of the most talented. They’ve been putting out some of the best music, consistently, for the past ten years,” she told the audience after teasing that she had a big surprise coming. “So, I know you guys have a river around Pittsburgh, and I’m wondering if you ever go out on a pontoon boat.”
Swift’s Pittsburgh audience apparently loves country music, too. The crowd erupted in cheers before Little Big Town even hit the stage, clearly getting the “Pontoon” reference. The reigning ACM and CMA Vocal Group of the Year then joined Swift for a sultry rendition of the 2012 platinum-selling song, highlighted by the singers strutting the catwalk and shirtless guys paddling along to the beat.
Backstage in Pittsburgh, a newer Nashville friend jammed with Swift and Little Big Town. Kelsea Ballerini treated one of her biggest supporters to an acoustic version of “Yeah Boy,” from her debut album, The First Time. Swift, who has tweeted about her love of Ballerini’s music in the past, posted a short video of the performance on Instagram, creating an official “petition” for that song to be the country newcomer’s next single. . . “because it is MY EVERYTHING,” she wrote.