It’s one of the great R&B duets that never was. While Usher was working on his seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself , he was determined to take fans on a musical journey and experiment with sounds he’d never explored before.
So, in addition to teaming up with Diplo for the seductive lead single, “Climax,” , as well as EDM giants Swedish House Mafia, Usher said he sought out producer Salaam Remi because he was very interested in doing a song with Remi protege, Amy Winehouse , before the singer died unexpectedly died at age 27 in July 2011. “We met and we talked about it for a moment when I saw her,” Usher said of a brief sit-down with the troubled crooner to discuss the potential soul summit.
“There was a few conversations that took place, but we never quite made it to it … I would have loved it.” One of those talks occurred while the unlikely duo were shopping at the ritzy London department store Selfridges. “I was shopping and she was doing some private shopping and she came out and we kind of crossed each other’s [paths] and, [I was like] ’Is that Amy Winehouse?’ … And before you know it we talked and exchanged information and I invited her to a show … and she didn’t come.”
Winehouse was out of the country at the time and sent a relative to the gig in her stead, but that missed connection has stuck with Usher to this day. “It could have been one of the most incredible records ever,” he said. “A voice like that comes once in a lifetime.”
Usher still wanted to get in the studio with Remi, and though it was a hard time for the producer, the pair met in New York and worked it out. “The style and the sound that we worked, I felt would definitely compliment what he does as a producer and what I have to offer.”
The story that the two explored on “Sins of My Father” was a new one for Usher, who had never spoken about his feelings for his dad in song before. “That was a hard one, but he gave me a palette that really worked.”