Billy Ray Cyrus Talks 'Achy Breaky Heart' Collab With Jencarlos: 'The Magic of a Little Song Can Bring People Together'

Billy Ray Cyrus
KT Wolf

Billy Ray Cyrus

"When the song was released 25 years ago, the world was very divided. Perhaps 25 years later it might be even more divided so through the magic of a little song, people can come together for just a moment to dance and sing and celebrate life, that's all that matters," country star Billy Ray Cyrus tells Billboard. And that "little" song he refers to is, of course, 1992 chart-topper "Achy Breaky Heart." 

In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the song -- which hit No. 1 on Hot Country Songs (chart dated May 30, 1992) and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- is getting a re-imagined, reggae-infused version featuring Latin superstar Jencarlos.

The unprecedented collaboration between the pair took place in Nashville, where Jencarlos traveled to record with Cyrus. "It was like when Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias started hanging out and sang together back in the '80s -- no one expected it. But Jencarlos has taken this song to a whole other level. He's a genius," the Kentucky-born singer/songwriter says. 


This… this is going to be special! On May 19, @JencarlosMusic is helping me take #AchyBreakyHeart25 to a whole new level!

A post shared by Billy Ray Cyrus (@billyraycyrus) on

Cyrus credits actress Cindy Luna, who's on his Still the King television show, for suggesting that he tap Jencarlos for the song to "really explode" in South America.

"I was already planning to collaborate with the Mexican quintet Caballo Dorado -- who is also celebrating the anniversary of their Spanish version "No rompas más" -- for a new bilingual version, when she mentioned Jencarlos. I said, 'Who's this Jencarlos?' I looked him up, invited him to record and this dude came to town. He lent his genius to the simplicity of my little southern groove and little lyrics."

While we're still a few days away from hearing the epic collab between Cyrus and Jencarlos, the new version is already Noah Cyrus-approved. "As soon as my daughter Noah heard it, she said, 'Daddy, you know that this song is going to blow up, right?' And I believe everything she says. She has a good ear for this." 

In a behind-the-scenes clip, the Cyrus tells Jencarlos that he "sounds like a young Elvis" -- and that's not the only figure Jencarlos reminded him of. "Jesus. He reminded me of Jesus, and when I told him he laughed, because he told me he actually played Jesus on a TV show/musical," Cyrus recalls. "So then I told myself, 'Cyrus, are you just looking for the safest card you can play by adding Elvis and Jesus on the most important track you have?'"


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