I stood in front of Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World as the sky was illuminated by fireworks. ‘When you wish upon a star, dreams really do come true’ echoed throughout the park, and within my head.
I wish to sing with Kelsea someday.
Sometimes, it’s 7am, you haven’t slept, and you’re eight coffees in. Sometimes impulsivity takes over and all of a sudden, you’ve bought tickets to see your favorite country artist on the other side of the world. Sometimes, it can be a disaster in the making, but sometimes, just sometimes, it can be a masterpiece.
I landed in chilly New Jersey after a couple of magical days at Disney World. I’d been talking with my friend Samantha when I glanced at my phone to see it was blowing up. My notifications were filled with an excessive amount of capital letters, exclamation points and profanity. It took a minute of scrolling before I found the root of all the commotion.
Let’s just say, I don’t know how my iPhone didn’t end up on the New Jersey turnpike. I was screaming out the window… or at least trying to. I’d completely lost my voice the day beforehand. Not just a little rusty on the edges, I’m talking full on squeaking toy.
Once I’d finally stopped screaming, I called my Granny who, for the last few months, has been saying that if I ever got to sing with Kelsea, she’d be on a plane to be front and center.
“Hey Granny, remember how you said you’d fly over if I ever got to sing with Kelsea Ballerini?… You better start packing your bags”
I finally got around to sending Kelsea a message. It’d been a good hour since the tweet, and I was still trying to figure out what to say. I decapitalized the message, and deleted twenty-six exclamation points, and felt my heart flutter as I pressed send.
Sam took me back to her apartment where we started getting ready, and I starting chugging warm water, gargling salt water and sucking on cough drops like my life depended on it. We hit the dining hall for dinner, though I couldn’t even think about eating. It was time.
We arrived at the Starland Ballroom and sat in the car for a moment, trying to figure out if I was shaking because I was cold, or because of what was waiting for me inside those brick walls.
Her tour manager, Mitchell, met me out back, and we walked inside to see Kelsea rehearsing onstage with her band. Impulsivity took over when she said, ‘Hi!’ and suddenly my legs were running up the stage ramp before my mind could catch up. It’s an unreal feeling to have someone be (almost) as excited to meet you as you are them.
Kelsea has an innate ability to make you feel so warm and welcome in her presence, something that I’ve found quite a few artists lack. Given she is an artist, and human being, that I have looked up to and admired for the past few years, I was half expecting myself to say something stupid, or say nothing at all… though thankfully neither happened. We sat on stage and girl talked everything from cats to Taylor Swift, while Dibs ran wild around the venue.
She’d chosen to sing ‘The First Time’ with me, so we quickly got to sound checking. This was my first time seeing Kelsea live, my first time meeting her and, in a wonderfully crazy twist of fate, my first time singing with her.
I’d love to write more about the feeling of singing in harmony with your idol while you stand a mere foot from her… but there are just some things in life which can’t be put to paper. We ran through the song a couple of times, trying to figure out how to mask how horribly rasp my voice.
The time came… The lights lowered and the screams reached a new height. Kelsea came out onto stage and my heart fluttered. I danced my way through the first half of set, being sure to not sing (or scream) along in an attempt to save whatever voice I had left.
And then came Peter Pan, my cue to go side stage. I felt my whole body drop inside of itself as she announced the song. Although it was one of my, and my Gran’s, favourite tracks of the record, I couldn’t concentrate. Suddenly it was so apparent to me just how many people were there, how little voice I had, and the fact that, that was Kelsea Ballerini onstage. The fact that I was about to be onstage with the Kelsea Ballerini.
“Hope Scott, get up here girl!”
It’s been a week, and my cheeks still hurt from how much I smiled in my five minutes on stage. It’s truly a euphoric feeling to be standing beside a musician you so truly adore, as a crowd of a couple thousand sing and scream her name.
Before I knew it, the ringing in my ears from the band that stood behind me was replaced with the ringing of the screams from fans that stood in front. My feet made it down the stairs without stumbling, though once they hit the concrete, my body soon followed. There a lay, for a short second at least, on the cold hard ground. When you wish upon a star, dreams really do come true.