Separated at Birth? Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood Share Incredible Similarities: 'It's a Little Weird'

During an onstage conversation before radio broadcasters, the two fast friends talk about dreams, trials, and stardom — and Yearwood reveals what she envies about Wilson

<p>Tammie Arroyo/AFF-USA/Shutterstock</p> Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood at CRS in Nashville on Feb. 29, 2024

Tammie Arroyo/AFF-USA/Shutterstock

Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood at CRS in Nashville on Feb. 29, 2024

Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood have just discovered they have a lot in common. They both grew up in small Southern towns. Both are daughters of schoolteacher moms and banker-farmer dads. Both have one sibling, an older sister. Indeed, the list goes on.

The note-comparing occurred when the two stars shared a stage on Wednesday, interviewing each other during Country Radio Seminar, the annual broadcasters’ convention in Nashville.

“It’s a little weird,” Wilson, 31, said about all her similarities with her new-found friend.

“It is a little bit strange,” Yearwood, 59, agreed, then playfully added, “I have not won entertainer of the year."

As the audience — and Wilson — guffawed, Yearwood quipped with a chuckle, “but we’ll let that one go.”

Wilson, 2023 CMA entertainer of the year, wasn’t having it: “Y'all heard that? Y'all know where my vote's going this year!”

Related: Lainey Wilson Reacts to Beyoncé's Country Music Crossover: 'I Love It — the More the Merrier'

Before the event, attended by several hundred seminar-goers, the two women had met only once briefly when Wilson opened for Yearwood’s superstar husband, Garth Brooks, at a New Orleans stadium show last September. But clearly, they have been mutually admiring each other for some time from afar.

Wilson gladly shared that Yearwood is a childhood hero: “Y'all, this is a dream come true for me to sit up here and have a conversation with this lady.”

Meanwhile, Yearwood, who noted good-naturedly that she began her career before Wilson was born, lavished praise on country’s new superstar: “I know you’re the real deal. You just see it immediately. … Not only is your voice incredible, but your song choices, the songs you write, the songs you choose … I really love what you’re doing.”

Here are more highlights — and similarities — that emerged from the women’s wide-ranging hour-long conversation:

Both knew from early childhood that they would pursue singing careers.

“I knew at 5 years old,” said Yearwood. “I had no doubt. I never chose. … And I told everybody I wanted, well … I wanted to be Cher, actually! That was the first dream.”

Wilson echoed her experience: “I knew at a very early age — like, I had a weird sense of peace about knowing that this was it. I didn't know what level it was gonna be at, but I knew that I was supposed to do this.” Among her childhood memories: singing Yearwood songs on her toy karaoke machine.

Related: Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood Chronicle Honky-Tonk Bar Opening in New Docuseries Friends in Low Places

Both never considered giving up on their dream.

Even though both women endured years of struggle to gain a foothold in Nashville, neither said they’ve ever given a thought to doing anything else.

“There’s no part of me ever that has ever thought that I would not want to do this,” Yearwood said. “I am a singer first. … I always say I was ‘called.’ It feeds my soul. I can’t imagine not doing it. I’ll stop when I can’t sing anymore, but I won’t stop till then.”

Said Wilson: “It’s the only thing I really know how to do. This is my only option. There’s definitely times where I should have been like, all right, pack it up and go back home. But I'm hardheaded and maybe a little psycho, too, I guess you kind of gotta be.”

<p>Danielle Del Valle/Getty</p> Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood at CRS in Nashville on Feb. 29, 2024

Danielle Del Valle/Getty

Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood at CRS in Nashville on Feb. 29, 2024

Both commiserated over a bad experience during a radio promotional tour early in their careers.

Yearwood recounted how she was blindsided during an interview with a question about an erroneous tabloid story about her.

“I just sort of snapped,” she recalled. “I said, ‘I can’t believe that you asked me that question. And you’re the reason that people know about this story that wouldn’t even know about it, and shame on you.’ And I left. And I’ve never done anything like that!” She added with a chuckle: “I’m pretty easygoing, although now that I’m 59, I’ll not take your s---.”

Wilson offered a chilling account of a meeting with a station honcho who initially told her, “You should have left your guitar in the car because I don’t want to hear you play.” Then, after listening twice to her first single, “Dirty Looks” (from 2021), Wilson recalled, “He leans across his desk, and he said, ‘Lainey, you’re just not that good.’ And I leaned across his desk, and I said, “So-and-so … out of the 10 years that I’ve been in Nashville, you telling me that don’t mean s---.’”

Wilson punctuated the recollection with a laugh. “If anything,” she said, “I’m appreciative of moments like that because it did light another fire underneath me.”

Both have received important career wisdom from their heroes.

Wilson recently had the opportunity to ask Dolly Parton about her decision-making process when new opportunities come her way. “And she said it has to be something that I’m really passionate about and really excited to do,” Wilson said. “And if that is not the case, then don’t do it.”

Wilson also recalled that Yearwood herself offered her an important insight to her rising career during their first meeting last fall — words, she said, that she hastened to put down in writing.

“She said, ‘The line between being loved and being hated by the world is getting smaller every day,’” Wilson said. “And I was like, oh, Lord! Because people love you and people hate you. And sometimes people hate you because people love you. It’s crazy.”

Related: Trisha Yearwood Celebrates 'Love of My Life' Garth Brooks' 62nd Birthday with Sweet Photo

Yearwood said she has long taken inspiration from the example of mentor and friend Reba McEntire. Her husband, Brooks, she noted, often has lamented to her, “You work 10 times harder [than men] for half as much.

"But," she added, "you don’t go, 'Oh, it’s so hard because I’m a girl.' You just do the work. And I learned that from Reba. Reba just does the work.”

Yearwood wishes she had Wilson’s performance style.

The elder artist marveled about how the new star worked the 360-degree stage at the New Orleans date. “You owned the stage — just the confidence,” said Yearwood, who confessed she’s always been most comfortable with a more stationary presence onstage. “I learned in my shows to just talk a lot, and I say things that I think are funny. … That’s what I do. But man, you just were all over the place. I was so envious. It was so cool.’

Wilson revealed she developed her stage confidence during high school in an unlikely way: hiring herself out as a Hannah Montana impersonator. “I would do three or four birthday parties a weekend,” she recalled. “I did it from eighth grade all the way through 12th grade. And that’ll teach you some stage presence.”

She added that she has yet to meet pop superstar Miley Cyrus, who played Hannah Montana on the hit Disney Channel series, though both were under the same roof last month when they each won a Grammy.

“I did get to see her perform up really, really close,” Wilson said. “And we know a lot of the same people. Dolly told me the other day, ‘You remind me of Miley.’ So I’m ready to meet her, and we’re definitely gonna do a song together. I’m putting it out there!”

<p>Danielle Del Valle/Getty</p> Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood at CRS in Nashville on Feb. 29, 2024

Danielle Del Valle/Getty

Lainey Wilson and Trisha Yearwood at CRS in Nashville on Feb. 29, 2024

Stardom delivered Yearwood and Wilson each a surprise.

For Yearwood, it was the discovery of how little time she got to spend doing what she loved the most.

“All you want to do is sing and perform and get in front of people and do your thing,” she said. “And that — if you’re lucky — is a couple of hours a day. It is a business, and whether or not you’re involved in the business, your name is on the bottom line, so you better be involved. There’re so many decisions that have to be made that don’t have anything to do with getting up on stage.”

Related: Lainey Wilson Is Trying to Keep 'One Foot on the Ground' amid 'Whirlwind' Year (Exclusive)

Wilson resonated with Yearwood’s sentiment, and she mentioned another realization: “The surprising thing is I don’t really feel any different. I think maybe I thought I was gonna feel different. But I'm glad I don’t. At the end of the day with all the wonderful things that have happened this past year — with the awards and accolades and being recognized and No. 1s and everything like that — I haven't got to the point, and I hope I never do, where I'm like, all right, all right this is it. We’ve done it. I'm just not wired that way. I'm always just like, what's next? What's next?”

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