Dancing with the Stars: Kellie Pickler Calls Partner Derek Hough an 'Answered Prayer'

02/27/2013 at 10:35 AM EST

Dancing with the Stars: Kellie Pickler's Grandfather Prayed for Her Partner
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
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When country singer Kellie Pickler found out Derek Hough would be her Dancing with the Stars pro partner, the first person she wanted to thank was her grandfather, Ken Morton.

"Having Derek as my partner is an answered prayer," Pickler tells PEOPLE. "Right before I left Nashville for L.A., my Grandpa Ken, who is a huge fan of the show, told me he was praying that Derek would be my partner, because that's his favorite male dancer on the show."

Picker, 26, made a splash on season 5 of American Idol, which films at a soundstage next door to Dancing with the Stars. Now she hopes that returning to the building where her career got its start and teaming with three-time DWTS champ Hough, whom she calls "a phenomenal dancer," will bring her luck in the pursuit of the coveted mirror-ball trophy.





And for good measure, she's counting on her Grandpa Ken.

"Now I think I will tell him to pray that we win!" Pickler says.

Dancing's new season kicks off March 18 on ABC.

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