As a country newcomer, Spears told me the biggest crowd she’s played for so far is about 1,500. But the venue she’s playing with Jackson holds more than 9,000. So how will she prepare for that kind of show?
“I’ve just been rehearsing,” she said. “More and more rehearsing. You have to make sure you have things perfect. You have to be prepared for good and bad. That gives you the confidence you need. I always want to give it my all, though, no matter what size the stage.”
She added that because of her big sister Britney’s massive tours, she has been around these kinds of arenas before.
“But at the same time, I’ve never been the one up there performing,” she said.
Spears, the star of Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 from 2005 to 2008, admits she’s a little nervous, though, mostly because of Jackson’s influence on her family growing up.
“My dad always used to say to me, ’I’d die and go to heaven if you ever got to perform with Alan Jackson,'” she said. “So he was the very first person I called after I got the email about these shows.”
She was at home, just hanging out and doing laundry, when she found out she’d be opening for Jackson.
“I wanted someone to pinch me,” she said. “There’s no way I could ever perform on the same stage as him. I freaked out. I cried.”
After years of Spears’ dad wanting her to sing country songs — and her reluctance to do so because she was a self-proclaimed stubborn teenager — she finally started loving country music. Her favorite Jackson song is “Like Red on a Rose” because she and her dad would always sing along with it.
And while her memories of Jackson’s music are fond, she knows she has a lot to prove to his fans.
“I have to be good at what I’m doing and give them a reason to love me,” she said. “The cool thing about Alan Jackson is that he has fans like my dad, and he has younger fans, like me, who grew up listening to him with their parents. So this is an opportunity for me to share my music with a huge group of country fans and make them love me like they like country music.”
Spears will play two shows in Texas with Jackson — Saturday in Corpus Christi and Sunday in Laredo.