Ballerini grew up in Knoxville and attended Central High School for two years before moving to the Nashville area. She announced in a video on social media Tuesday that she will play Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center on Nov. 2nd, as a tribute to her hometown.
Students at Central High School then found out they’d all be receiving two free tickets to the show. Zoie Woodruff is a sophomore and said she was shocked at the announcement.
“It was insane. I’ve been listening to Kelsea since I was tiny,” Woodruff said. “She’s always given me that sense of hometown pride so seeing her give back to her alma mater and give us two tickets is insane. I’m so excited.”
Woodruff and Mallory O’Dell, another sophomore at Central, said their love for the singer has spanned many years.
“I came to the concert a few years ago that was at Central,” O’Dell said.
“I saw Kelsea when I was really tiny back in 2014, I’m so excited to be able to see her again,” Woodruff added.
“We were all really jealous last year when they got tickets to Morgan Wallen, but now it’s our turn, so all the Gibbs kids have been texting and being like, ‘you got Kelsea tickets? can I have your extra ticket?'” Woodruff said.
“My Halls friends have already been texting me asking if they can have the extra ticket and that they’re jealous,” O’Dell said.
Central High School Executive Principal Danielle Rutig said it’s nice to see former students giving back to the school.
“I had a student who came up to me today, carrying his guitar case, and he was like, ‘This is like my dream come true. She is who I aspire to be, and that just shows me I have an opportunity to have that happen as well,’ so it’s just that ultimate dream that when we put our mind to our dreams anything can happen,” Rutig said.
Woodruff said she feels inspired by Ballerini at school every day.
“It’s really inspiring seeing her jersey in the breezeway every morning when you’re walking to class and just knowing that she’s out there in Hollywood making it big, but she was walking these same halls,” she said. “It’s just so inspiring and it lets you know that you can do the same thing as Kelsea.”
Ballerini has made many tributes to her hometown throughout her music career, including writing a song centered around Knoxville, titled “Half of My Hometown (feat. Kenny Chesney).” She also filmed part of the music video for the song at Central High School’s football field.
Tickets for the November show go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15.