Who Are For King & Country, Dolly Parton’s CMA Awards Partners?
Christian pop duo For King & Country will take the CMA Awards stage alongside Dolly Parton to sing "God Only Knows" as part of her medley on Wednesday night (Nov. 13). One could say the pairing was God's will, but country fans might also be asking: Who is For King & Country?
Brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone moved with their very musical family from Australia to Nashville at a young age, but their accents remain, as you'll see in the above interview with Taste of Country.
For King & Country talked to ToC just days before they were to play with Parton — something they say is an honor, but also meant to be.
“What’s really beautiful, when the song came about she literally said to her manager she wants to get involved with more kind of gospel, inspirational music ... and a day or two later that’s when 'God Only Knows' kind of came across her desk," Joel Smallbone says. "So she saw it as this providential moment. I really feel like, Lord willing, in the show it will be just that.”
Yes, Parton is a big deal in their home country of Australia, but For King & Country grew up in Nashville and have performed at her Dollywood theme park in Eastern Tennessee as they were coming about in Christian music. The Smallbones have sung together almost their whole lives (for the record, Joel is the older of the two), but have only performed under their current name for about a decade. Thus far they've released three studio albums, with songs from Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. (2014) earning critical acclaim and two Grammys. They have also won several GMA Dove Awards and are up for a trio of 2019 Billboard Music Awards.
"God Only Knows" is from a still-to-be-released album, but it already reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Christian Airplay and Christian AC charts and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Christian Songs chart. The story of Parton joining them is one of two guys just taking a chance cold-calling her team.
“And we sent her the song and within two weeks we were on the call with her directly, and she just said, ‘I’m gonna tell ya, I love the song — it’s one of my favorites. I’d love to sing on it if you’d have me,'" Joel Smallbone recalls.
It didn't take long for them to say yes. The new song inspired a cinematic music video in which both brothers and Parton play guardian angels over younger, more desperate versions of themselves. Parton's alter-ego is a hooker, Joel Smallbone plays a raging addict, and Luke Smallbone is confined by some sort of debilitating disease.
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