Christian Singer Zach Williams and Dolly Parton Lift Spirits With New Collab "Lookin' For You" (EXCLUSIVE)

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Grammy winning Christian singer/songwriter Zach Williams has teamed with Dolly Parton for a powerful new duet, “Lookin' for You,” but surprisingly — the spark that started the duo's latest collab came about while Dolly was whipping up a tasty batch of blue cheese dip.

“We were working on her Christmas special at Dollywood back in 2022,” Zach tells Woman's World of filming at Dolly’s popular East Tennessee amusement park. “We were all on Keto diets at that time. We were hanging out backstage and Dolly got to talking about this blue cheese dip that she makes and how it was really good with the pork rinds. So she sent somebody out for the ingredients and she made this dip for us. We were sitting there eating pork rinds and blue cheese and then she asked me, ‘What are you working on?’”

Zach started telling Dolly about A Hundred Highways, the project he was working on at the time. “I got the title for the record from a song called ‘Lookin' For You.’ I played it for her and she started humming along and singing harmonies,” he recalls. “The next thing I know, she was wiping tears from her eyes.”

“I about fell over when I heard it, I thought it was the best thing,” Dolly shared in a statement. “I told him, ‘Well, there’s another big hit for you!’”

Zach was thrilled that Dolly liked the song, but then she put him on the spot by asking, “Why didn’t you ask me to sing on that?”

“I said, ‘I didn’t know if you’d want to,’” Zach relates. “She laughed and said, ‘I think we did pretty good the first time.’”

The first time Dolly is referring to is “There Was Jesus,” her initial platinum-selling duet with Zach.

Released in 2019, the song won Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Written by Zach, Casey Beathard and Jonathan Smith, the stunning duet topped Billboard’s Christian Airplay chart and has become an enduring hit.

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When Zach wrote “There Was Jesus,” he thought Dolly’s voice would really fit the song, so they reached out to her team to play it for her.

“She agreed to listen to the song, and told me, ‘I never even listened to the whole chorus, I knew that it was special and wanted to be a part of it,’ so that’s how the first one started,” he says of their first musical partnership.

The two artists got together in Dolly’s studio and the result was magic. “It was pretty awesome just getting to be in the room with her,” Zach says. “I thought everything she sang was perfect, but she was always like, ‘Let me have one more,’ and we were like, ‘You sing as many as you need.’” 

Dolly Parton and Zach Williams performing together at the 53rd annual CMA Awards in Nashville
Dolly Parton and Zach Williams performing together at the 53rd annual CMA Awards in Nashville
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

He will always have fond memories of the song and the reception it received. “I found out when we were nominated for and that was her 50th Grammy nomination and then I think it was her 10th win, so it was pretty special to be a part of that,” he smiles. “It was her first Christian No. 1 song, so it was a lot of firsts that year for her and for me. It was really cool.”

Their new duet, “Lookin' for You,” is included on the 16-track extended edition of  A Hundred Highways. The single looks to be another hit for the talented duo as it debuted at No. 7 on the Christian Digital Song Sales chart.

A Hundred Highways album cover
A Hundred Highways by Zach Williams featuring "Lookin' For You" with Dolly Parton
Zach Williams

Zach says he was surprised at how quickly Dolly recorded her vocal for the song. “We sent her the song on a Friday, and she had it back to us by that Monday morning and so here we are again with the second song and it’s a pretty special song too,” he says.

Dolly even took time out of her busy schedule to shoot a video with Zach. “The folks that she works with had this idea to shoot it down at her place and they sent us a bunch of cars to choose from,” he says. “That was the one we picked and I’m glad we did because it turned out to be the perfect car for the video. It just looks great!”

In addition to the Dolly duet, the extended edition of A Hundred Highways also includes “Walls Fall Down,” a collaboration with acclaimed country artist Lee Brice.

“People love the Lee Brice song. Our first week of that going out my streaming was up like 500%,” he says.  “It’s one of my favorite songs on the whole record and Lee is great! He’s got an awesome voice and he’s great to work with. We had a lot of fun. I’ve written with him a few times, but it’s the first time we actually did a song together.”

Zach Williams and Dolly Parton on set of the
Zach Williams and Dolly Parton on set of the "Lookin' For You" music video
Robby Klein

In addition to releasing the extended edition of A Hundred Highways Williams also has a new book Rescue Story: Faith, Freedom, and Finding My Way Home.

“This book is something that I’ve wanted to write for the last several years and I’ve just been super busy obviously and hadn’t really had the time to do it,” Zach sighs, “but this past year me and my wife had been talking and just felt God put it on our hearts to share some of these stories that we’ve never really talked about publicly and give people a little bit more look into our lives and where we came from so they can understand where we’re at. The whole prayer of the book is that families could find hope if they’ve got loved ones or family members who are struggling with something or going through something in their life—to know that if God can take somebody like me and clean them up, He can do it with anybody.”

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In addition to writing songs, recording and working on the book, Zach has also been busy on the road. This spring he is in the midst of his ‘A Hundred Highways’ tour with opening act Riley Clemmons. “This fall I’ve got a tour called Zach Williams Bible Nights. I’ve got a band called Cain, Matt Maher and a guy named Ben Fuller that will be on tour with me,” he says. “Then I go back out in November and do a second round with TobyMac and MercyMe, so I’m pretty excited.

“I’ve got a busy year,” he continues with a warm, happy tone in his voice. “We’ve got shows at county and state fairs and festivals lined up all summer.  I’ll be done this year a little before Thanksgiving and this will be the first year I haven’t done a Christmas tour. So it will be nice to be home with the family for the holidays.”

These days as he watches his latest duet with Dolly climb the charts, he just has one regret. “I wish my grandparents could still be around to see this because I grew up watching Dolly on TV shows with my grandparents, and it would have been special for them to be here to see that,” he says, “but I know they are proud and I know they are looking down. I would have never imagined in a million years that this would happen so it's pretty cool.”

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