Lauren Alaina has come a long way since her American Idol days, but a looming Beyoncé performance at the CMAs has one of country music’s rising stars thinking back to her reality TV start.
The “Road Less Traveled” singer began her career back in 2011 on the hit singing competition show, where she ultimately landed as the runner-up to fellow country singer Scotty McCreery. But before the final votes were cast, Alaina got the chance to learn from one of the music industry’s finest.
“I cannot believe I’m meeting you right now,” she told Beyoncé, as the final three contestants were introduced to their pop superstar mentor.
The Georgia native recalled the mentoring experience on the 50th annual CMA Awards red carpet, explaining that “[Beyoncé] just told [me] to be super confident and just go for it. She’s such a talented singer and she told me just to sing, just to let people hear my voice.”
Alaina went on to proclaim her excitement over being back in the same room with two of her music idols, Dolly Parton and Beyoncé. The singer recently got to meet and interview the legendary Parton, saying it was “The best day of [my] life, likely literally [my] children being born and marriage . . . those things are ruined because [I] got to talk to Dolly.”
• Watch PEOPLE and EW’s red carpet LIVE show, airing Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on our homepages or the newPeople/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the PEN app on Apple TV, Roku Players, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, iOS and Android devices.
- PEOPLE’s Special Edition 50 Years of the CMA Awards is on sale now online and on newsstands.
Alaina is wrapping up 2016 on a high note. The singer recently announced on Twitter that she will be joining Martina McBride, in partnership with CMT, on her extended Love Unleashed Tour.