Jason Kempin/Getty Images Lindsay Ell
"I remember watching videos of Shania on stage and being like, I want to do that, I want to be her," Ell, 33, told PEOPLE on the CMA Awards red carpet Wednesday in Nashville. "And now to be able to be direct support with her on tour, it's wild. It's so surreal speaking that sentence into existence."
Ell will join her fellow Canadian on the just-announced "Queen of Me" world tour that launches April 28 in Spokane, Washington, and ends, 48 dates later, on Sept. 26 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Besides Ell, Twain has enlisted a coterie of top support talent to play select concerts, including Kelsea Ballerini, Hailey Whitters, BRELAND, Robyn Ottolini, Priscilla Block and Mickey Guyton.
Ell noted that she's already had her Shania baptism — opening for her at the Boots & Hearts Music Festival in Ontario, Canada, in August — and she was happy to report her interactions with Twain did not disappoint.
"They say, 'Never meet your heroes,' and I would say that Shania is definitely the exception to that rule," said Ell. "She's so down to earth and so smart. It's really difficult, as a female artist, to stand up for the things that you believe in, and also do it with class — while being sexy. She just does it so effortlessly. She's the queen. I can't think of another female artist that's inspired me more as a songwriter, as a performer."
Ell noted she could easily step in to do background vocals, since she knows all the words to every Twain song, and the guitar goddess said she has the guitar solos nailed, too.
"If anybody gets sick, you just call, I'm ready," she volunteers. "Put me in, coach!"
Ell also revealed the tour isn't her only connection to Twain these days: She also has been in Los Angeles writing with producer Aja Lange, the 21-year-old son of Twain and ex-husband Mutt Lange (who co-wrote and produced Twain's best-selling albums, as well as music for a host of top rock acts).
"Aja has the most incredible studio because, of course, his parents are rock stars," Ell notes. "And he's so talented. He just has that musical brilliance gene, so we've been having fun writing."
Ell teases that fans may be able to hear some of it soon: "I've been working on some new music, so some is set to come out in early 2023."
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic BRELAND
BRELAND was another CMA red carpet visitor on Wednesday who's been on a Shania high since he learned he'd been tapped for the tour. A genre-boundary pusher like Twain, he put himself squarely on her radar while he was working on his recently released debut album, Cross Country.
Among its catchiest songs is "Natural," which notably samples from Twain's iconic "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"
"Obviously, I wanted to pay homage to Shania," said the 27-year-old artist, who considers her music and career a major influence.
Getting her permission required jumping through several legal and management hoops. "But she still had to listen to it, and approve it or deny it, and she approved it," BRELAND said, "so I felt really good about that. But then for us to be able to go out and play some shows together, that takes it to a whole new level."
BRELAND said he's hoping for the chance to share the stage with Twain — but will there be an opportunity for a mashup of their two songs?
"I would love that," he manifested.