Grammy-winning brother duo FOR KING + COUNTRY is making a habit of duetting with country divas.
The duo, comprised of Joel and Luke Smallbone, first teamed with Dolly Parton on their hit "God Only Knows" and performed it with the country queen on the CMA Awards. Next, the men paired with Lady A's Hillary Scott for their new song "For God Is With Us."
The duets came together in different ways. Joel Smallbone called Parton's management and presented them with the idea of adding her to "God Only Knows," which was already out.
"It was one of those phone calls that was like, 'This is ridiculous, but I'm just going to call,'" he told Country Faith Radio with Hillary Scott on Apple Music Country. "And I said, 'Hey, we've just got this song done.'"
Within a few days, Parton heard the song and called Joel back herself.
"I remember where I was standing," he said. "And she just, she said, 'Y'all, like I've got to tell you. This is one of the great(est) songs I've ever heard. I'd love to sing on it. And we should do a music video, and we should perform it on television.'"
The Smallbones are Australian immigrants who have lived in the Nashville area since they were children.
"Look, as an immigrant, as a writer, as someone who lives in Nashville, as someone who's been to Dollywood, played Dollywood, it was kind of the most profound moment, I think, for Luke and me as artists and as writers," Joel said.
When it comes to "For God Is With Us," the men already knew Scott. Joel attends church with her.
"We talked for years about wanting to collaborate at some point, and I'm just so thankful that this was the one because y'all know I've gushed about it," Hillary said. "This song, it's just one of my favorites, and I got to find this new place in my voice that was so fun in the studio."
Luke said they noticed the change in Hillary's voice while recording the song in the studio.
"In the studio, the person who's in the vocal booth usually can't hear what everybody else is saying in the control room unless you press a button and there's a mic, and then obviously you can communicate back and forth," he explained. "Well, when the mic wasn't on, all of us were saying, 'Have you ever heard Hillary sing like this? This is incredible. This is amazing.' So the fact that you felt it, that's what we were all saying."
It was important to the men and Scott that the duet made sense and that there was room for her in the recording.
"You hope with collaboration that something rises," Joel said. "It becomes an elevated version of itself, but that's not always the case. But my only regret in it is that we actually just didn't think about it like 12 months earlier. So because it's so… Hillary, it's so good."
"For God is With Us" is from FOR KING + COUNTRY's new album "What Are We Waiting For?" that is out now.