In 2017, MercyMe released a powerful single called “Even If,” a song frontman Bart Millard wrote in response to his son’s ongoing battle with diabetes, proclaiming that his faith in God wouldn’t waver, even in the face of a chronic illness bestowed upon his oldest child. Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox heard the song, and out of the blue, he called Millard.
“He said, ‘Buddy, I love ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ but ‘Even If’ changed my life,’” Millard recalls to Sounds Like Nashville of their initial conversation. The two quick-witted lead singers immediately hit it off, bonding over music and faith, and ever since, LeVox—who released his first solo Christian single, “The Distance,” in March—has been telling the band he wants to collaborate.
“He never let up,” Millard insists. “He would keep telling us that he’s singing on our album to where I’m getting nervous, like I’ve got to come up with a song that’s worthy of Gary singing on because he does backflips with his voice.”
With the band’s tenth studio album, inhale (exhale), Millard finally delivered, penning a song deserving of LeVox’s effortless vocal acrobatics. On “A Little Love,” together, Millard and LeVox remind listeners a little love goes a long way toward healing the rifts that exist between us. The song’s culturally-relevant lyrics speak to the division felt across the nation: “Got a head full of headlines and a heart full of doubts. But we gotta change tomorrow right now.”
LeVox heard the demo and was instantly sold. He tracked his vocals for the recording in ten minutes. “It was the easiest song we did. I mean, he just came in and sang it twice, and he was done. It was amazing,” Millard shares. “Gosh, he feels like he’s been a friend our entire lives. If he comes to the studio to sing, he stays for the rest of the night and wants to hang out.”
“His voice is iconic. It’s in a Pixar movie for crying out loud,” adds MercyMe guitarist Mike Scheuchzer. “To hear a song that we’ve been working on for eight months, and then all of a sudden, he steps in and that voice comes through the speaker, it was just unreal, absolutely unreal. It was an honor.”
It’s been 20 years since MercyMe released the song that would forever define their career, “I Can Only Imagine.” In 2018, the real-life story behind the emotional ballad about Millard’s dad came to life on the big screen and went on to become a box office smash.
The band behind the storied crossover hit recorded all of inhale (exhale) at their new studio in Franklin, Tennessee—a log cabin they recently renovated where Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick wrote the GRAMMY®-winning Eric Clapton hit, “Change the World.” In addition to LeVox’s feature, the 16-track project also includes cameos by Millard’s son, Sam Wesley, and disco queen Gloria Gaynor.