Kacey Musgraves Honors Late Idol John Prine: He 'Impacted My Songwriting More Than Anyone Else'

"There are two times I've ever seen my dad cry: my Memaw's funeral and the time I got to play with John Prine," Kacey Musgraves tells PEOPLE exclusively

Kacey Musgraves, John Prine

Kacey Musgraves is paying tribute to her idol John Prine.

The country music legend died last week of complications from the novel coronavirus; he was 73.

“John Prine singlehandedly impacted my songwriting more than anyone else. He’s the king of turning phrase but keeping it simple,” Musgraves, 31, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. “They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but you’ll never meet someone as truly genuine as he was.”

In 2015, Musgraves joined Prine aboard the Cayamo: A Journey Through Song cruise, during which they duetted on his songs “Illegal Smile” and “Paradise.” Then in 2017, Musgraves and Prine reunited again to sing his beloved hit “Angel from Montgomery” at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. Those performances meant the world to both Musgraves and her father, Craig.

“There are two times I’ve ever seen my dad cry: my Memaw’s funeral and the time I got to play with John Prine,” Musgraves adds.

Prine actually inspired one of Musgraves’s early songs: “Burn One with John Prine,” an ode to both the icon and pot. Five years ago, Prine reminisced on meeting a young Musgraves years before at one of his annual Christmas parties.

“This little girl comes up to me with her buddy…. They wanted to take me out in the parking lot and get me high. I said, ‘Uh, gee, thanks but… no, thanks,’” Prine said at the time, per Rolling Stone. “We had our picture taken together and the next thing I know, I’m over at my record company, Oh Boy Records, and I hear this tape. It’s Kacey singing this song about how she’d like to burn one with John Prine.”

John Prine
John Prine. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Prine was hospitalized with a “sudden onset” of COVID-19 symptoms on March 26 and intubated on March 28, his family wrote in a statement on March 29. The musician died as a result of complications from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville on April, a representative confirmed on behalf of Prine’s family to PEOPLE at the time. He is survived by Fiona and their three children.

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