Taylor Swift wants to make sure everyone on the Eras Tour is bejeweled — so she gave them all matching necklaces!
Gayle, who is opening several shows for Swift, 33, tells PEOPLE exclusively that the “Midnights” singer gifted the entire team with gold tag necklaces engraved with the words “The Eras Tour.” The piece of jewelry is more than something to wear around her neck, though — Gayle, 19, says it reminds her of the role Swift plays in her life.
“She is like a big sister to me,” Gayle confesses. “When you’re in music, there’s so many unknowns and there’s so many stresses. I’m a perfectionist, and not everything is going to be perfect all the time. There’s definitely been times where I’ve been able to talk about my insecurities and my fears and she’s been a very comforting person.”
“She’s been such a light in my life,” she continues.
The “abcdefu” singer says she has loved Swift for as long as she can remember — even moving to Nashville when she was 10 years old to pursue a music career like Swift did, joking that “she claims Nashville, we claim her.”
“She has such an incredible work ethic,” Gayle says. “Ever since I was a little kid, I just aspired to be as good of a writer as her and work as hard as she does. I’ve just tried my best to do those things and she’s always been such an inspiration to me.”
Sitting in the “last row” of the stadium at Swift’s 2018 Reputation Tour, Gayle says she remembers seeing the “1989” artist on stage and dreaming about her own future. Now, not only playing in a stadium but doing so because of Swift is “so exciting.”
“I never ever ever, ever, ever thought I’d be doing that, and so it’s amazing,” she admits, adding that Swift “got me flowers” and wrote a sweet letter to welcome her to the tour.
When the two first met, it was at the Nashville Songwriters Association International Awards, where Gayle performed and Swift won songwriter-artist of the decade. To Gayle’s surprise, Swift asked to talk to her and congratulated her on her success.
“She’s just such a nice, lovely human, and she’s genuinely one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Like, she’s so f—ing funny,” Gayle raves.
It was that night that Swift asked Gayle, whose hit song “abcdefu” has reached 1 billion streams, to be one of her opening acts for the Eras Tour. She says she was telling the Grammy winner about her career and plans for a future tour when Swift “gave me this look.”
“She was like, ‘Do you open up for people?’” Gayle reveals. “And I don’t know what made me say this, but I said, ‘I open up for people who asked me to open up for them.’ And she was like, ‘OK, I’ll call you,’ and I fell to the floor. Like I literally fell to the floor.”
Gayle says she told Swift that the entire world was “buzzing with excitement” for the Midnights album, which hadn’t been released at the time, and the pair talked about Gayle’s experience seeing Swift in concert years prior.
“I also thanked her for inspiring so many young women in Nashville to become songwriters — she really showed us what we could do, what we will do and pave our own way,” she shares. “And so that’s kind of how it happened.”
She adds: “I didn’t tell anybody really until the announcement came out. I was so scared. I was like, ‘I’m not gonna believe it until it’s out.’ Like there’s just there’s just no way. Then it came out and I was like, ‘Wow.’”
The Grammy-nomminee will be headlining in North America later this year, and says she plans to release an album in 2024, which she is going to start writing at the beginning of the year. Her goal, she says, is to have a headlining tour around the world.
“I really learned these past few years that I can do things in spite of the fact that I’m afraid,” she says. “I was afraid of the thought of going on my own tour, but I wanted to try it anyway. So I’m really excited about that. People have been buying tickets, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, for me?! You want to see me?’ Like, that’s insane.”