Even though Lucy Hale is perhaps best known for her acting, she says that music is her No. 1 love. And because she wants to be an artist who is taken seriously, she's working hard. In a recent chat at a Nashville studio, Hale opened up about that that along with her Opry debut, her feelings for Martina McBride and more.

Although Hale's debut country album, 'Road Between,' was just released last month, she's always had dreams of making it in music. In fact, she actually started singing before she even started acting or landed her role as Aria on 'Pretty Little Liars.'

"I started out in music and I’ve been an avid country music fan since as long as I can remember and acting took off," the 25-year-old explains. "I don’t know if I would be sitting here if it weren’t for 'PLL.' It gave me the opportunity to get to make this record."

Despite the fact that her debut album is still fresh, Hale has already received one of country music's biggest honors: the opportunity to perform on the Grand Ole Opry -- an honor which was on her bucket list. Hale admits that when she first got the call about performing on the iconic stage, she thought they had made a mistake -- she was "shocked."

"My career is a little different than a lot of people that get to perform there, so I was a little taken aback that they wanted me there," she reveals to ToC. "They were so gracious and so kind and like I cried on stage, it just ... it was everything I wanted it to be, down to the flowers, to the dress, to the faces I saw in the audience, to me crying ... it was just what I had imagined it to be and more, and I’m just so grateful for the experience.

Hale continues, "Hopefully I didn’t screw it up too bad. Hopefully they’ll invite me back, but it was a moment I’ll really really cherish for a long time.”

The actress-turned-singer released her first single, 'You Sound Good to Me,' earlier this year, and just dropped her second, titled 'Lie a Little Better.' With a new single comes a new video, which Hale just finished shooting. While the song may sound happy, she confesses there are some sad undertones in the lyrics (Hale didn't write the new single, but it is based on her life). The story revolves around the singer getting a little silly over a big crush (it's rumored to be a 'PLL' cast member!).

"There is a certain person that I just completely would fall to pieces about. I was acting like a moron," Hale admits. "The whole moral of the song is sometimes you just have to learn how to lie a little better. I was actually filming the day they wrote the song and I came to the studio afterwards and they captured it perfectly."

Now that Hale is making a name for herself in country music, she's getting to meet her heroes and people who have influenced her through the years. One in particular is McBride, whom Hale calls "everything." She compared the meeting to her time on the Opry.

"It was just kind of the same Opry experience -- I would have been so disappointed if she wasn’t everything I wanted her to be and she totally was," Hale says of the 'I'm Gonna Love You Through It' hitmaker. "It’s so cool to see someone who’s found that much success can still be so down to Earth.”

Hale isn't just getting to meet big country acts, she's also getting to record songs with them. She asked Joe Nichols to sing a duet with her on her record, and he was happy to lend his voice. While they didn't actually get to meet to record 'Red Dress,' they did meet shortly after.

"Pretty much what the story was, they’re like, ‘Lucy, come up with a dream list of people you would love to do a duet with,'" she recalls. "And I’m like, ‘Well do I keep it realistic, or do I just aim high?’ and they’re like, ‘Whatever.’ So I aimed high, because why not? All they can say is no."

Her choice was Joe Nichols.

“He’s so kind, and obviously I love him," she gushes. "He’s one of my favorite male vocalists. I mean, it's so distinct -- you know who’s on the radio when he sings. And then I was a little nervous. I was like, ‘How are our voices going to sound together?’ But I think it worked out. It’s one of my favorites on the album."

Hale says acting prepared her for music in many ways -- it helped thicken her skin and improve her self confidence. She also admits it helped her learn to accept criticism. Even though she's taken something from both occupations, she's a singer at heart.

"I love stories, and with acting you get to bring that to life, but with music ... I can’t explain it ... but that just ignites something in me that I can not even explain," Hale says. "It’s 100 percent more scary."

Hale frequently gets asked if she's going to choose between her two loves one day. She says that she refuses to and blames it on being "stubborn" and "too big of a dreamer."

“I’m not gonna have to choose. I’ve always felt like I will be the exception," she admits. "I want to do both, and it might take a lot of work and a lot of convincing to a lot of people, but I’m very persistent,” she says, laughing. "Music is it. Music is my love."

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