TO BE 2 OR NOT TO BE 2

As Garth and Trisha know, there's beautiful music to be made in duets - but should they make it permanent?

Story by Chris Neal and Nick Krewen
You're sitting in the audience at the CMA Awards show in Nashville. The stars are out in full force. There are Tim and Faith in the front row, looking glamorous. There's Alan Jackson, his lanky frame spilling out of his seat.

Those sassy SHeDAISY gals are onstage. They've just read the nominees for Vocal Duo of the Year, and the crowd waits breathlessly for them to announce the winner. In most years it would be a lock for Brooks & Dunn, or perhaps Montgomery Gentry. But this year, there's a new - and extremely formidable - entry.

Kelsi hands the envelope to Kristyn, who passes it off to Kassidy, asking with a smile, "You want to do the honors?" Kassidy eagerly tears into the envelope, then shows it to her sisters. They all shout in unison: "Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood!"

OK, so it didn't really happen. And it won't be happening at this year's awards in November either, where the nominees include the aforementioned B&D and MG, but no G&T.

But what if Garth and Trisha did take the musical plunge?

They've been planning a duets album for over a decade now, and if and when it finally sees the light of day, it's a guaranteed megahit. If the pair made the musical teaming permanent, they'd immediately be a powerhouse on par with Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. (And if Garth insisted on maintaining his retirement, being half of a duo would mean doing only half the work!)

Of course, lately more attention has been focused on whether Garth and Trisha are a romantic duo. And it would seem they are. She was on hand in March when Garth was given the prestigious Golden Note Award in Washington, and, holding hands, they attended the funeral of legendary songwriter Harlan Howard the same month. In August the two showed up at another Nashville funeral, that of beloved engineer Denny Purcell. Garth drove Trisha to the service in his truck.

The two were also seen kissing at a Songwriters Hall of Fame event in June. There, Garth was asked if he had - as the saying goes - "pinned" Trisha.

"I'm not worried about 'pinning' her," he replied. "I'd kill anyone who'd lay a hand on her!" Sounds serious, although the couple has refused to even address rumors of marriage, or even a baby on the way.

No matter what their personal relationship becomes, when Garth and Trisha first met, what they had in common was music. They found that their voices meshed like magic, and before long a string of hit duets was unleashed: "In Another's Eyes," "Where Your Road Leads" and "Squeeze Me In."

When these two joined voices, they were enjoying one of the biggest thrills a performer can have - the jolt you get when sharing a song with someone you respect and admire. For decades, country stars have been getting - and giving - those jolts of musical electricity to fellow singers. In fact, for many country stars, singing duets is almost a rite of passage.

"It's a lot of fun!" explains Brad Paisley of singing duets. "Music is a great bridge between people."

The guy who's walked across that bridge more than just about anyone is Vince Gill. "I've sung on records with about 400 different artists," he notes. "I'll sing on anybody's record who asks me. I just want to play and sing."

Singing duets can also have other benefits - like changing how the public thinks about a star. For instance, singing with Garth boosted Trisha's career stature, and singing with Trisha lent Garth a more romantic image.

More on Duets and Garth and Trisha in the (10/15/02) "Current Newsstand" issue.

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