OFFSTAGE: How Tim McGraw Ended Up on a Ne-Yo Song

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

It’s hard to say what came first — the country-leaning R&B song Ne-Yo wrote or the idea to bring Tim McGraw in on it. Either way, I’m glad it worked out for everyone. The song, a duet called “She Is,” is on Ne-Yo’s latest album R.E.D. He wrote the tune with country’s hottest hitmaker Luke Laird. (Laird recently tied with Dallas Davidson for the BMI songwriter of the year and has co-written written songs we all know and love, like “Pontoon,” “Last Name,” “Drink in My Hand,” “Baggage Claim” and even McGraw’s recent “Halo” and his older “Put Your Lovin’ on Me.”) Ne-Yo recently told The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville that there are dance songs out there with only four words in the whole song, but it doesn’t matter. “Because it’s not about what the words are, it’s about the music, the ups and downs in the music … and then it explodes — that’s what that genre of music is about,” he said. But this McGraw collaboration is much different because there are way more than four words, and they are all good. So how’d it come about? “I actually ran into Tim McGraw’s manager in London and … when we played ’She Is,’ I was like, ’This is my take on a country song,” Ne-Yo said.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.