Watch Kelly Clarkson and Dolly Parton immaculately harmonise in 'I Will Always Love You' duet

2 December 2022, 12:52

'I Will Always Love You' was a global hit for Whitney Houston, but Dolly Parton penned the iconic ballad.
'I Will Always Love You' was a global hit for Whitney Houston, but Dolly Parton penned the iconic ballad. Picture: NBC Universal

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

It's one of her biggest and most beloved songs.

But when we hear the Dolly Parton classic 'I Will Always Love You', it's difficult not to immediately think of Whitney Houston.

That's because when Whitney covered the gorgeous ballad for The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992, she made it a global phenomenon.

Dolly has now revealed the story of how she first heard Whitney's version for the first time appearing on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Explaining how she heard the cover, she recounted Kevin Costner asking her to use the song to which she gladly agreed. But after that she didn't know whether or not it was going to be used.

Dolly told Kelly Clarkson: "I didn't hear anything else about it. I didn't know if they had it, I didn't know if they had done it."

"I was just driving along, I had the radio on and I heard this..," she recalled. "When I heard the first 'If I...' I just freaked out."

"I had to pull over to the side because I honestly thought that I was gonna wreck. It was the most overwhelming feeling and you know how great that was."

It's a sentiment echoed by anyone that heard it themselves for the first time.

But as Dolly demonstrated with Kelly Clarkson, she still has the angelic voice to carry such a heartfelt and iconic song.

After revealing how she reacted after hearing Whitney sing her words, both Dolly and Kelly give the studio audience exactly what they want - an off-the-cuff rendition from themselves.

With the audience clamouring for a sing-song, Kelly first denies the request but then agrees to harmonise alongside her idol Dolly.

And the pair deliver, harmonising an impromptu and immaculate performance of the song's chorus there and then.

Dolly then goes on the praise the 40-year-old American Idol winner for her performance of the track at the ACM awards in March 2022, which was a tribute to Parton.

"I've been meaning to tell you, that whole crowd, Whitney, she would've been so proud of you. It was incredible," the country music legend told Clarkson.

Kelly returned the compliment by telling Dolly: "Your breaks in your voice are so magical. You're like a magical fairy human."

Dolly and Kelly's harmonising was spellbinding. (Photo by: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
Dolly and Kelly's harmonising was spellbinding. (Photo by: Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal via Getty Images). Picture: Getty

During the episode, the two singers teamed up for a cover version of '9 to 5' for the series' daily Kellyoke segment, which has seen Clarkson cover a whole range of songs from artists such as Adele and George Michael.

The performance came three months after they teamed up to record a duet version of the song for the documentary Still Working 9 to 5, which premiered in September 2022.

Ahead of the documentary's release, Dolly expressed her admiration for Kelly and her talent, saying: "Nobody sings like Kelly Clarkson. She makes any song come alive."

"I love her voice on '9 to 5,' and I am so proud I got to sing with her on it. I'm equally as proud of the wonderful arrangement and production by Shane McAnally."

Clarkson also expressed her love for Parton too, writing in a press statement: "I am so honoured that Dolly asked me to reimagine this iconic song, '9 to 5,' with her!" wrote the TV host.

"She is so talented, an inspiration to all women, and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet!"

Clarkson continued, "I hope y'all like what we did, but even if you don't, remember I got to sing a duet with the magical Dolly Parton, and now have bragging rights til the end of time!"