"It was cool to be around someone who's so creative and so driven and so down-to-earth," the country star said of Halsey

By Jeff Nelson
August 03, 2018 01:00 PM
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Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty

“Strangers” no more!

Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey bonded recently, and the country star opened up to PEOPLE about their budding friendship.

On July 18, Ballerini and some pals hit up the Nashville stop of Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom Tour.

“I had met her before, but we’d never really hung out,” says Ballerini, 24, who will host ABC’s Aug. 8 broadcast of the 2018 CMA Fest with Thomas Rhett. “I’m obviously a really big fan of her music, so I went to the show with my friends and afterwards said hi, and she didn’t have a show the next day, so she was like, ‘Let’s go hang!’ And I was like, ‘Yep!'”

One thing led to another, and the singers hit the town for a night of beers and karaoke — all of which they documented on social media.

RELATED VIDEO: Here’s Why Kelsea Ballerini and Morgan Evans Believe Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman Are ‘The Ultimate Power Couple’

“We just hung out a few places in Nashville,” Ballerini said of her night out with 23-year-old Halsey (real name: Ashley Frangipane). “We’re both really similar in age and had a lot to talk about; it was cool to be around someone who’s so creative and so driven and so down-to-earth. She really is so lovely. I feel like I made a new friend.”

On Instagram, Ballerini — who married “Kiss Somebody” singer Morgan Evans in December — captioned a photo: “We karaoke’d kid rock & dixie chicks til 3am on a Wednesday and it was glorious.”

“Heartbreak karaoke and too many beers with the realest one of them all,” Halsey, who recently split from rapper G-Eazy, captioned her Instagram post.

Halsey, of course, isn’t the first pop star Ballerini has befriended since she rose to mainstream fame in 2015 with her breakout single “Peter Pan.” In addition to Taylor Swift — who was an early supporter of Ballerini’s tunes — the “I Hate Love Songs” singer has gotten friendly with Julia Michaels.

“Me and Julia have been in a lot of the ‘New Artist’ things together. I love her, and I just think she’s a brilliant songwriter,” says Ballerini of Michaels, 24.

Ballerini last saw the “Issues” singer when they shared the stage at Amazon Music’s star-studded Unboxing Prime Day last month, headlined by Ariana Grande. But while the country star is a huge fan of the “No Tears Left to Cry” singer, she couldn’t pluck up the courage to introduce herself to Grande, 25.

“I literally was in my dressing room, and she and her backup dancers were practicing and warming up right outside, and literally me and my band and everyone were like, ‘Oh, be quiet, listen to Ariana!’ And we were listening to her warmup — that’s like the closest I’m ever gonna get because I was like, ‘I don’t feel like I should ever meet Ariana Grande,'” Ballerini joked, with a laugh. “It’s just on a level of people where I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m gonna say something so stupid if I meet you.’ I’m like way too awkward of a human!”

Not that Ballerini has too much time for socializing these days. After a headlining tour to promote her sophomore LP Unapologeticallyearlier this year, Ballerini is currently on the road once again, opening for Keith Urban‘s Graffiti U tour, as well as beginning to work on her third album.

The 2018 CMA Fest airs at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 8 on ABC.