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Ne-Yo goes country with Tim McGraw

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  • Singer Ne-Yo arrives for his birthday party at Tribeca Rooftop in this Oct. 18, 2007 photo taken in New York. The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night Oct. 31, 2012 in Nashville. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards. (AP Photo/Gary He)

    Singer Ne-Yo arrives for his birthday party at Tribeca Rooftop in this Oct. 18, 2007 photo taken in New York. The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night Oct. 31, 2012 in Nashville. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards. (AP Photo/Gary He)

  • Singer Ne-Yo arrives for his birthday party at Tribeca Rooftop in this Oct. 18, 2007 photo taken in New York. The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night Oct. 31, 2012 in Nashville. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards. (AP Photo/Gary He)

    Singer Ne-Yo arrives for his birthday party at Tribeca Rooftop in this Oct. 18, 2007 photo taken in New York. The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night Oct. 31, 2012 in Nashville. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards. (AP Photo/Gary He)

  • Singer Ne-Yo arrives for his birthday party at Tribeca Rooftop in this Oct. 18, 2007 photo taken in New York. The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night Oct. 31, 2012 in Nashville. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards. (AP Photo/Gary He)
  • Singer Ne-Yo arrives for his birthday party at Tribeca Rooftop in this Oct. 18, 2007 photo taken in New York. The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night Oct. 31, 2012 in Nashville. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards. (AP Photo/Gary He)

The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests at a private event on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards.

“For me, I feel like in another life I might’ve been a country artist,” Ne-Yo said in an interview after the performance.

And he’s not joking. He’s found lots to love about country music since first joining McGraw for a Nashville-style songwriting session a few years back.

“Faith Hill actually made me fried chicken,” Ne-Yo said. “She cooked fried chicken for me and it was fantastic. I knew I was coming out here to write, so I was expecting to go to like a studio and hear some skeletal track and then just go from there. I went to Tim and Faith’s house. It was me, Tim and a guy with a guitar in the living room as the kids ran around, and it was the greatest writing experience I’ve ever had in my life.”

The two sang McGraw’s “Only Human” from his “Emotional Traffic” album. Then they wrapped up with Ne-Yo’s “She Is” from his Nov. 6 release “R.E.D.”

A loose, upbeat McGraw threw the party to debut new material from his first Big Machine Records album “Two Lanes of Freedom,” out Feb. 5.

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