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Elton John joins Rina Sawayama, artist he championed last year, for new duet

Elton John said recently that while in lockdown, he hasn’t been making any Elton John music, but he’s enjoyed collaborating with a wide variety of other artists, from Metallica to Lady Gaga to Dua Lipa.  Now he’s releasing yet another collaboration.

Premiering Wednesday, the song is called “Chosen Family” and it teams Elton with Rina Sawayama, a singer, songwriter and model who was born in Japan but has lived in the U.K. since the age of five.

That’s notable because Elton, a huge fan of the singer’s 2020 album, Sawayama, complained loudly when she was deemed ineligible for nominations for one of the U.K.’s top music awards, the Mercury Prize, because she doesn’t hold a British passport.  Now, after much campaigning by Rina, artists who’ve lived in the U.K. for at least five years can now be nominated for those prizes.

Elton tells The New York Times that Rina’s album “just blew me away,” adding, “I had to call her up and tell her how brilliant it was. I mean, it was Led Zeppelin meets Prince meets a couple of things that referenced Madonna.”

Chosen Family” originally appeared on Sawayama, and is described as “an emotional ode to her LGBTQ+ family.”  Elton has added his vocals and piano to the song, which will be released on Wednesday, along with a video.

“The lyrical content is so beautiful,” Elton tells The Times. “There were so many brutal things going on in the world when the record came out, especially in America, and yet it made me feel as if all would be O.K.”

“The song means so much to both of us, and recording it together was such a special experience I will never forget,” Rina says in a statement.

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