Kelsea Ballerini made a grand return to Knoxville, Tenn., on Thursday night (Nov. 2) for a show at the University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena. Shortly after launching into her hometown-proud song "Half of My Hometown", she abruptly stopped the song.

"Uh, can we stop?" she says to the band in video seen below. "I can't be in Knoxville and sing this song without Kenny Chesney."

The crowd goes wild — she doubles over in laughter as Chesney makes his way onto the stage. The two Knoxville natives share a big embrace as the audience continues to cheer.

"Hi everybody, good to see you," the country veteran shouts as Ballerini paces the stage with excitement.

"Kelsea, backstage, she goes, 'Don't make me cry up here,'" Chesney tells the audience. "I'm not gonna make her cry, but I do want to say just how proud I am of Kelsea and her band. Tonight is very special and I'm thrilled to be back in east Tennessee to celebrate Kelsea Ballerini."

Chesney compliments her jacket before the pair launch into their duet.

"Half of My Hometown" was first released on April 19, 2021 as an ode to the place where Ballerini grew up. Chesney — who's also from Knoxville — is a featured artist on a song that speaks to all the things Ballerini loves about the town that raised her. However, her love is coupled with a desire to leave and pursue her dreams.

Despite ultimately saying goodbye to Knoxville, it has always remained a big part of her life.

The "If You Go Down" singer announced her hometown show in September, noting that after singing about her hometown for years, it was time to actually go home.

"Throughout the last decade and four albums, there has been a consistent ode to my hometown," Ballerini wrote on social media at the time. "Whether it be lyrically like in ‘Half of My Hometown’ or celebrating milestone moments in venues like my high school, the Tennessee theater, or the civic center, it’s always been incredibly important to me to go back to the place that let me go to chase my dream."

8 Brutally Honest Divorce Lyrics From Kelsea Ballerini's 'Rolling Up the Welcome Mat' EP

Kelsea Balerini opened up her divorce diary in February 2023 with her Rolling Up the Welcome Mat EP, a project that follows the stages of a breakup — from grief and loneliness to anger to acceptance — in chronological order. Here are eight of the most revealing lyrics from the project.

Gallery Credit: Carena Liptak

More From K96 FM