Elton John And Janelle Monae May Duet On Next Chic Album

(Radio.com) Nile Rodgers has a very "one world" view of music. Genre and generational borders clearly mean little to him. Besides being one of the members of disco behemoth Chic, Rodgers is one of the most successful producer/guitarists of the past few decades, having worked with Sister Sledge, David Bowie, INXS, Madonna, Duran Duran, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the B-52s, Adam Lambert, Avicii, Disclosure, Sam Smith and Daft Punk, to name just a few.

The guy likes to bring people together: and on one song he's been working on, he's combining the vocal talents of Elton John and Janelle Monae. "The song is the story of a woman's life [in] four stages," Rodgers tells Radio.com. "It's beautiful, it's a tear-jerker."

While the recording is new, the song itself is something Rodgers has been working for three decades, and its original inspiration was someone else entirely: Diana Ross.

"Years ago, I went with Diana Ross to Radio City Music Hall to see Julio Iglesias," Rodgers explains. "And she says to me, 'Nile, whatever you do, make sure this guy doesn't get me up on stage.' I said, 'Hey, D, it's cool, no problem! I'll hold your hand, and when he introduces you, you can just stand and wave and stay with me.'

"I didn't really know his songs, except 'To All The Girls I've Loved Before,' but he's got a very strong accent. So, right in the middle of his show, he stops the show and says [feigns Iglesias's accent], 'Ladies and gentlemen, my quin.' And I'm thinking [he's saying the title of the Bob Dylan song] 'The Mighty Quinn.' And I'm like, "The Mighty Quinn?' Julio Iglesias is hipper than I thought!' He was actually saying 'my queen,' referring to Diana. So, Diana stands up, and I'm getting ready to grab her hand, and all of the sudden, she's running up on stage [laughs]. I'm like, 'Whatever happened to that plan?'"

This event, however, set Rodgers' mind in motion. "I've always thought of Diana Ross as rock and roll royalty. So, after that, I went home and wrote this song called 'Queen.' I didn't write it about Diana Ross, I wrote it because of Diana Ross. And because of Julio Iglesias. Had he not said that, I would never have thought of the song. I wrote it in the style of Thom Bell and the Stylistics, I even used that choral electric sitar that they used. I wanted her to sing it, years and years and years ago. It's really old."

"I know Diana very, very, very well. She's been a friend since we did [1980's diana]. But sometimes, I think, she gets a negative rap. Like, they call her 'diva.' And in her world, she thinks that it's a bad term. And I'm like, 'No you are a diva, it's cool.' But I think that for her to sing a song called 'Queen,' felt a little bit over the top."

While its inception is decades old, the song idea resurfaced again very recently, Rodgers says. "Two months ago, we went out to lunch in Los Angeles, and I begged [Ross to sing it]. I got her son on the phone, and I said, 'Evan, tell your mom: this is the joint!' She just wouldn't do it.

"I'd spoken with Elton John, and he wanted to do it with her. The song is the story of a woman's life. It's four stages of her life. As a girl, her daddy calls her 'Queen,' but he deserts her. As a teenager, she has a boyfriend who calls her 'Queen,' but he just gets her drunk and doesn't treat her well. Then she gets married, but her husband divorces her for a younger woman. But then, as she looks in the mirror, she calls herself 'Queen.' It's beautiful, it's a tear-jerker. Read more here.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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