Singer Kelly Rowland was in France last summer when she discovered DJ David Guetta, at one of his exhilarating techno shows in Cannes.
When she later met up with Guetta and asked him to play a new track for her, the French DJ unveiled a pop number built around a lush piano loop and throbbing percussion. The track, which would become the groundwork for "When Love Takes Over," moved Rowland to tears.
"I felt so much emotion from the track; something happened the first time I heard it, and it was just beautiful," Rowland says. The former Destiny's Child member took the track to London to write and record the song's vocals.
The finished product was unveiled at a show-stopping joint performance in March at Miami's Ultra Music Festival. Last month, "When Love Takes Over" was officially released as the first single from Guetta's upcoming album, "One Love," and bulleted at No. 2 on the Hot Dance Airplay chart.
Guetta and Rowland will perform the song at various points on Guetta's continent-crossing DJ tour during the summer.
A sugary, synth-laden ode to the excitement of the unknown, the single marks a sea change in style for both artists. After R&B powerhouse Destiny's Child disbanded in 2005, Rowland released her second solo album, "Ms. Kelly," on Columbia Records in 2007. The set offered accessible, uptempo R&B, but none of the tracks was as unabashedly club-oriented as "When Love Takes Over."
"I had spent nights dancing in the South of France from 12:45 a.m. to 8 in the morning," Rowland says, "but I had never thought about recording a dance track myself. Hearing David's song made me consider taking on this whole new style."
Guetta, meanwhile, is banking on the single to garner a stronger stateside following. The 41-year-old DJ has been a staple in French house music for more than a decade, but his fourth album, slated for a late August release, finds him dabbling with a techno/hip-hop hybrid he refers to as "electro-hop."
So far, splicing genres has helped raise Guetta's profile. He recently produced "I Gotta Feeling," the second single off the Black Eyed Peas' upcoming album "The E.N.D."
"The track with Kelly has made me experiment with a more American urban influence," Guetta says. "Musically, it's opened a new world for me. It's pure pop with a lot of detail, and Kelly had this Whitney Houston vibe and nailed it."
The success of "When Love Takes Over" comes at an intriguing time in Rowland's career. An amicable split with Columbia in March led the singer to explore other media, and she landed on Bravo's "The Fashion Show" as a co-host with style guru Isaac Mizrahi. The reality show premiered May 7.
Rowland also is readying a new charity called I Heart My Girlfriend, which will serve as an interactive support system for teenage girls. The program continues Rowland's long line of philanthropic work, including a bone marrow drive she spearheaded in March.
Although Rowland is still between labels and doesn't have concrete plans for another solo album, she hints that her next effort may return the favor for Guetta and focus more on the clubs. "This has definitely inspired me to put more of a dance sound on an album of my own," she says. "I want to try out that world without straying too far from my urban roots."