When Kelsea Ballerini wanted Kenny Chesney to sing on her song "Half of My Hometown," she texted him late one night. The two kept up a correspondence even after working together, so when he stopped responding, she got a little worried.

"I was wondering why he'd stopped responding," Ballerini tells Taste of Country Nights ahead of the 2021 ACM Awards. "I was like, 'Oh my God, maybe I misread the situation. Maybe he's like, 'We're not friends.'' I don't know."

Turns out, it was a case of mistaken identity.

"He got a new number, and he texted me his new number," Ballerini explains, "but I'm really bad at saving numbers, so for a long time, I was texting someone else."

In fact, Ballerini had no clue she wasn't texting Chesney until the new owner of his old number replied. "Finally, I got a text back from this number. He's like, 'I don't know who you're trying to reach, but I'm a real estate agent,'" she recounts.

She didn't share the information about the number's history, but she did track down Chesney's new number. Now, he's in her phone under a code name.

Ballerini and Chesney, both Knoxville, Tenn., natives, will perform "Half of My Hometown" during the 2021 ACM Awards. She is also nominated for Female Artist of the Year at the show, but she's too focused on "trying not to cry or forget the words" to write an acceptance speech for if she wins.

"I think if I ever take an award like that home, I want it to be a pure reaction," she says. "Plus, I overthink everything else in my life."

After relocating from Las Vegas to Nashville in 2020 out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACM Awards are back in Music City in 2021. As showrunners did last year, they're spreading this year's event out across iconic venues (the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe), though a few performances will take place elsewhere. They'll be following national, state and local guidelines related to the pandemic, as well as additional, self-imposed safety measures.

The 2021 ACM Awards are set for Sunday (April 18). They'll begin at 8PM ET and will air live on CBS and be available to stream on Paramount+; sign up for the streaming service here.

2021 ACM Awards Nominees: The Full List

Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton lead all 2021 ACM Awards nominees with six each and Miranda Lambert has five, including Female Artist of the Year. Thomas Rhett and Ashley McBryde will be up for four ACM awards on April 18. The CBS broadcast will award trophies for Entertainer, Song and Album of the Year, in addition to Duo and Group of the Year. This is a list of all ACM Awards nominations for 2021.

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