Country Throwback: Kenny Rogers, Wynonna Judd Sing ‘Mary Did You Know’ in Virtual Duet

by Matthew Wilson

Kenny Rogers and Winona Judd were ahead of their time with the virtual performances. What is a norm in 2020 was a rarity back in 1997 when the two performed side by side virtually.

Well, Judd did anyway. Rogers was on stage giving a rousing performance of “Mary Did You Know?” when he got a little help. Judd wasn’t available to attend the performance. But she offered her virtual assistance. During the song, Judd appeared on a projected screen to sing her half of the duet. At one point, Rogers stood in front of the screen, creating the illusion that they were side by side.

It’s definitely an unconventional concert. But the two sounded great together. Judd’s vocal theatrics combined nicely with Rogers’ bellowing notes to create synergy. The two performed a moving experience for the crowd at the Gospel Music Channel holiday special.

Sadly for Rogers’ fans, there’s only virtual concerts and recordings left. The singer passed away earlier this year surrounded by his family.

Kenny Rogers Wasn’t the Only Artist to Perform the Song

Rogers and Judd recorded the song for Rogers’ Christmas album “The Gift” in 1997. Their version performed well on the charts. But it wasn’t the first version of the song nor would it be the last. Many country artists have put their spin on the tune over the years.

The song is inspired by the gospel and biblical stories of Jesus Christ. For instance, the tune explores the journey of Jesus from his miracle birth to walking on water to his crucifixion. The narrator asks if his mother Mary knew of what Jesus would accomplish during his life.

Mark Lowry first wrote the lyrics to the song in 1984. But it would take almost a decade for Michael English to put them to music in 1991. Several artists have recorded the song since Rogers and Judd got their hands on it.

This year, the song seems more in favor than ever with Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood offering dueling versions of the classic.