In December of 1982, Dolly Parton, Brenda Lee, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson released a compilation double album called The Winning Hand. It featured a large number of previously unreleased tracks from the four, and it also led to this epic duet.
To celebrate the album’s release, Johnny Cash hosted a two-hour television special that was syndicated across multiple networks in early 1983. During that special, all five artists joined in to perform a gospel tune together for the first and only time.
The five superstar artists join together verse by verse, harmonizing on the chorus as it grows louder and more complex with each new artist. And every time a new singer comes through the swinging stage door, the crowd erupts even more. It’s a raucous, hand-clapping affair (even if it takes Willie a few tries to get on the right-hand clap beat).
While it may seem kind of random for those four artists in particular to release an album together, the reason behind it makes perfect sense. Dolly, Willie, Kris and Brenda had all recorded songs for Monument Records in the mid-1960s, and when a lot of those tracks never got released, they decided to release them together.
In some instances, the songs were edited together to create duets. It was a commercial and critical success. Unfortunately only one single, “Everything’s Beautiful,” was released to radio.