Canadian country up-and-comer Tenille Townes is part of the Grand Ole Opry's Opry NextStage Class of 2019 alongside Riley Green, Tegan Marie and Travis Denning. The program is a promise to back these four rising acts: They'll have opportunities to play the Opry itself, as well as the Ryman Auditorium and the Ole Red locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tenn., all Opry-owned properties.

Townes, for her part, made her Grand Ole Opry debut in 2018 -- a big step in the 24-year-old's career. Artists throughout the years have discussed how emotional the moment is, and for her, it was no different.

"Before stepping out to the actual show, I got to walk out to the Opry stage, thank goodness, and step in the circle for the first time and look out into the empty house and just have this spiritual moment of imagining the history and the legends of people who have built the foundations of country music that we get to walk on, and just kind of soak that in," Townes recalled to The Boot during an Opry NextStage launch party. "I bawled my face off."

Making the moment even sweeter, familiar faces from Townes' hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta, traveled to see her play on the big night. More than 140 of her friends and family came to Nashville on a private plane and purchased a whole section of seats for the Opry show.

"I could feel the section that my hometown was in. They were just sitting there, and it meant the world to share that with them," Townes remembers. "They always joked that they’d come celebrate the Grand Ole Opry someday and watch me, and they weren’t joking because they all showed up ..."

On the Opry stage that night, Townes performed her breakthrough single, "Somebody's Daughter." The song empathizes with a story of homelessness and has been championed by other artists, including Miranda Lambert.

"It means the world to have people believe in "Somebody’s Daughter." It’s so important to me," Townes shares. "This song was inspired by a drive I took with my mom, and we saw this girl standing on the side of the interstate, holding onto a cardboard sign, and it made us wonder what her story was, thinking about the fact that everybody’s got a story."

Beyond her upcoming shows as part of the Opry NextStage program, Townes will spend the early part of 2019 on the road for the Burning Man Tour, with headliner Dierks Bentley and fellow opening act Jon Pardi. Townes says she's "just pumped to be a part of this tour and really looking forward to seeing what happens this year, where the music takes us."

"I had the most incredible experience last summer, being a part of the Bandwagon Tour with Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town, learned some of the ropes, and I cannot wait to learn from Dierks and his crew," Townes admits. "I’ve just heard the most wonderful things about his road family and can’t wait to get out there and have a front seat to see how he does such a wonderful job of bringing people together."

Meet Tenille Townes + More of The Boot's 2019 Artists to Watch

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