Sumner's Tales: Sting talks...
"I sang with Mary about four or five years ago and was blown away by her passion, by her raw emotional energy and that amazing voice that really does make her the heir apparent to Aretha Franklin. I love the way she sings. She's a very powerful lady too, but she's also very vulnerable. There's something very compelling about that combination. I remember coming away from that show we did together thinking I'd love to write a song for her and I to sing that really was inspired by her. It took me a couple of years, but I wrote, Â¬Ã«Whenever I Say Your Name I'm Already PrayingÂ¬Ã, which has a kind of religious connotation and Mary's singing start comes from the church, it comes from gospel. So I sent it off to her, praying that she would like it. And she called me back and said, 'Yes I'd love to sing it'... I'm very proud of the duet. I had to alter my singing style a little bit to match her passion. You know, I'm an Englishman, so I'm not easily given to singing my passion. But to match hers I had to try and get up there."
"That's not romantic gobbledygook. It's real. If you love somebody, it's a religious experience. Mary and I play these roles in that song; we're in a relationship that's both co-dependent and necessary. As a singer, Mary really is the heir to Aretha Franklin, and I had to bring myself up to that mark. She's so passionate that it brought out the passion in me. I'm English, after all, and we find it very difficult to be passionate. We need a little help!"
"I sang with Mary a couple of years ago at the My VH1 Music Awards, and I was blown away by her emotion and power. It's raw and very vulnerable, yet very strong. I was really taking a lot on by doing a duet with Mary. But I persevered and, in fact, I wrote that song with her in mind. The thing I wanted to do with it was to try to redefine religion for myself; for me, my church is the woman I love. That's how I approach the idea of God, or whatever - through romantic love and a personal relationship. Yes, she was the perfect person to sing with."
"Mary J. Blige was the right singer to sing this duet. The song is about finding solace in the world through love, through finding that one person. "Whenever I say your name, I'm already praying." That's not just romantic gobbledygook, it's real. If you really love somebody, it's a religious experience when you're with them, when you think of them and when you speak to them. Certainly the only connection I have with religion apart from music is this sense of love with someone else. So Mary and I are playing these roles, a relationship that was co-dependent and necessary. And she is just so passionate that it brought passion out in me. I'm not the most passionate person - I'm English! We find it very difficult to express passion, so we need some help."
Grammy Magazine, 2004
'Whenever I Say Your Name' features the sultry voice of Mary J. Blige and is another track that mixes the themes of religion and love recurring throughout the Â¬Ã«Sacred LoveÂ¬Ã album. On stage the song was a tour de force, featuring the incredible voice of Joy Rose duelling with Sting. The UK single featured the album version of the track plus two remixes.