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Discussion: The Duet – A Lost Art Form?



Trawling through the iPod a few weeks ago I came across a playlist that I had all but forgotten about. It consisted entirely of duets, mostly from Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (and a few of his other duet partners) and Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack, with a few other, more recent tracks from various artists. Listening to the playlist got me thinking … they don’t make them like they used to (NOTE: I’m only 25 lol).

Back in the 60s and 70s duets were a staple of soul music, however in recent times they seem to have dwindled into almost non-existence. Sure we get the odd guest appearance on a track, but this is usually just to sing the hook or a short verse, we no longer see both parties contributing equally to the song as was the case with Marvin and his many partners, or Donny and Roberta.

Of course there are exceptions, a few of my favourites include: D’Angelo and Erykah Badu’s cover of ‘Your Precious Love’, Angie Stone and Calvin Richardson’s ‘More Than A Woman’, India.Arie and Anthony David’s ‘Words’ (IMO robbed of a Grammy!), and more recently Zap Mama and Bilal’s ‘Way You Are’. All of these tracks are what I would call duets rather than just guest appearances.

This got me thinking some more, who would I like to see release a full album of duets, in a similar vein to Marvin & Tammi/Donny & Roberta?

Here are a few of my suggestions, please feel free to make your own in the comments.

  • Ledisi and Raphael Saadiq (IMAGINE…!!!)
  • Rashaan Patterson and Lalah Hathaway
  • Yahzarah and Darien Brockington
  • Imaani and Tony Momrelle
  • Zap Mama and Bilal (after the fantastic ‘Way You Are’)
  • D’Angelo and Erykah Badu
  • Eric Roberson and Lisa Shaw (an album of soulful house duets!)
  • Anthony Hamilton and Ann Peebles (real, gritty soul)


  • Ra-Re Valverde and Peter Hadar



5 Comments leave one →
  1. 28/05/2009 3:10 pm

    Eric Roberson and Lisa Shaw
    That one would be nothing but the truth! I’d buy ten copies! lol!

  2. mea permalink
    30/05/2009 1:36 am

    I agree very much with this article and would love to see some great duets that are well put together and not thrown together just so the record company can try and make a penny off of it.

  3. 30/05/2009 12:44 pm

    Great post bro! I would have to add that one of my favorite duets would have to be Mary and K-ci “If Loving You is All That I Have to Do” from her “What’s the 411” LP. Just something about the raw emotion in that one. As far as a “wishful” duet…I would love to hear Dwele and Choklate together over some Vitamin D production. That would mos def be instant vintage.

  4. 01/06/2009 3:48 pm

    @ ray: Me too!!!

    @ mea: The record companies, and sometimes the artists themselves are guilty of doing collaborations with the ‘next best thing’ without thinking about whether or not it will work.

    When done right they’re great … but most are average if not awful.

    I like it when artists think outside of the box a bit when choosing who to collaborate with … such as the Wayna/Muhsinah collabo on ‘Billie Club’ … didn’t think it would work but it does.

    @ squarerootz: The Mary and K-Ci track is great!

    I see where your comin’ from with Choklate and Dwele … although I gotta say i’m not a huge Dwele fan. Choklate and Rahsaan would be a good combination too.

  5. 19/06/2009 11:46 pm

    Raphael Saddiq and Teedra Moses was also a great collaboration, the song being ‘Live Without You’. Also I liked the collaboration between Eric Roberson and Algebra Blessett, ‘Iluvu2much’.

    I would love to see a collaboration between Rahsaan Patterson, Raphael Saadiq and Jill Scott though.

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