for KING & COUNTRY recalls the collaboration they failed to get: “Rejection never felt so good”

for KING & COUNTRY‘s latest hit, “Love Me Like I Am,” is a collaboration with Jordin Sparks. In the past they’ve collaborated with everyone from gospel star Kirk Franklin and country star Jimmie Allen to music icon Dolly Parton and pop star Tori Kelly. The one collaboration that the duo desperately wanted was with U2‘s Bono — but even the rejection they got was a “bucket list moment” for them.

The duo’s Joel Smallbone tells ABC Audio that he and Luke, his brother and bandmate, have always loved U2: Joel says for him, seeing them perform live and on TV was poignant and profound.

“It was like, ‘Man, if that is what music looks like and that’s the way music can impact people, sign me up,"” says Joel.

So the duo decided to shoot their shot and ask Bono to sing on a song on their 2022 album, What Are We Waiting For? What they got back, Joel says, was a message from Bono, which he describes as “the nicest, kindest way you could be rejected.”

Joel, who still has the message on his phone, says Bono wrote, “I really love this [song] … But I can’t [sing on it] for a whole host of reasons which one day I would love to explain to the band, as they have a very special feeling about them, around them and within them. But I can’t go there right now. Please thank them for thinking of me. I’m a fan.”

“Rejection never felt so good,” laughs Luke. 

“It might as well have been a bucket list moment,” Joel adds. “Because it’s like … ‘Bono is a fan."”

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