NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ne-Yo feels right at home in Music City.
The silky-voiced R&B star joined Tim McGraw for a surprise performance Wednesday night. The two sang a pair of duets for a crowd of a few hundred invited guests on the eve of the Country Music Association Awards.
"For me, I feel like in another life I might've been a country artist," Ne-Yo said in an interview after the performance.
And he's not joking. He's found lots to love about country music since first joining McGraw for a Nashville-style songwriting session a few years back.
"Faith Hill actually made me fried chicken," Ne-Yo said. "She cooked fried chicken for me and it was fantastic. I knew I was coming out here to write, so I was expecting to go to like a studio and hear some skeletal track and then just go from there. I went to Tim and Faith's house. It was me, Tim and a guy with a guitar in the living room as the kids ran around, and it was the greatest writing experience I've ever had in my life."
The two sang McGraw's "Only Human" from his "Emotional Traffic" album. Then they wrapped up with Ne-Yo's "She Is" from his Nov. 6 release "R.E.D."
A loose, upbeat McGraw threw the party to debut new material from his first Big Machine Records album "Two Lanes of Freedom," out Feb. 5. He will perform new single "One Of Those Nights" on the CMA Awards and will join Hill in a tribute to Willie Nelson.
Ne-Yo can't make it to the show Thursday night. He's shooting a video for "Forever Now." But he vowed to return to Nashville soon.
"We're definitely going to do it again," he said. "I met a lot of very important people in there. I met Tim's management and the Big Machine people, and just expect to see some more of this cross-pollination happening."
For the latest country music news from the Associated Press: http://twitter.com/AP_Country. Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http//twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.