Tenille Townes on Reuniting with Shania Twain on Tour After Singing with Her at Age 9: 'So Surreal' (Exclusive)

Townes can’t believe how "full circle" her life has come

getty (2) Tenille Townes; Shania Twain
getty (2) Tenille Townes; Shania Twain

Life has come full circle for Tenille Townes. The rising country artist is set to tour with Shania Twain this fall, 20 years after being randomly pulled on stage to sing with the country icon, and she's feeling reflective about it.

Townes, 29, called their fateful reunion this coming November "surreal" while in conversation with PEOPLE on the red carpet at the ACM Awards on Thursday in Frisco, Texas. "It's such a crazy full circle because I was one of those crazy 9-year-old kids who went to one of her concerts," Townes shared with PEOPLE. "I had a costume that looked like her Miami concert DVD, and I had a sign that said, 'Shania, can I please sing with you?' And she pulled me up onstage."

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For Townes, the experience was life-changing. "I was 9 years old, and that was the moment: I was standing next to my hero, like, 'This is it. This is what I want to do,'" she shared, adding, "We're going back to that city on this tour, getting to open for her, which is so surreal. I'm so excited."

When asked if she and Twain, 57, will be reuniting on stage, Townes told PEOPLE, "I hope so. I'm crossing my fingers. Let's put it out into the world."

Check out PEOPLE's full ACM Awards coverage to get the latest news on country's big night.

Katie Kauss Tenille Townes
Katie Kauss Tenille Townes

Townes told the story of meeting Twain for the first time as a nine-year-old in depth, in a video on her Facebook page back in December 2021. "Playing Edmonton today and feeling overwhelmed thinking about this moment in the same city 18 years ago that led to being here today," she wrote in the caption, with a sobbing and a heart emoji.

"I grew up singing along to every single Shania Twain song," Townes said in the video. "She was my hero. I got tickets as a gift to see her concert.My family took a 5-hour road trip to see it. I made a sign that said, 'Shania can I please sing with you?'"

"My mom glue-gunned me this costume to look like her Miami Live DVD I've watched a million times," she continued. "I know this sounds crazy but when we walked into the arena I had this feeling it was really going to happen. I just believed it. From the moment the show started I was signing my heart out. Halfway through, Shania came around to where I was standing and randomly picked me to come up on stage with her. I stood next to her looking out into the crowd and I knew then it was exactly what I wanted to do."

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Townes credited the moment with the reason she's a music artist today. "It was also the day I learned that dreams actually can come true," she said. "It lit a fire in me. It's the reason I'm singing songs today. Now I sure hope to get to pay it forward to a kid at a show of mine someday."

Townes shared photos of her encounter with Twain as a 9-year-old on Instagram the following December, in 2022, when announcing her upcoming string of dates with Twain beginning Nov. 7.

She shared a carousel of photos along with a list of tour dates on Instagram and wrote, "If you'd have told this 9-year-old kid who was randomly pulled on stage with her hero, that a few years later, she'd be opening up for that hero on an arena tour, she would have lost her mind. Currently losing my mind... this is the craziest full circle and I can not wait for these shows."

Related: Tenille Townes Enters a New Season of Healing After Pandemic Pain: 'I Felt Like I Was Going Insane'

The pair's tour dates together begin Nov. 7 in Winnipeg, Canada and conclude Nov. 14 in Vancouver, BC.

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