Mary J. Blige’s 1999 hit “Don’t Waste Your Time,” featuring the late Aretha Franklin was a memorable track on Yonkers artists Mary album but the specific cut only happened when Clive Davis turned down the initial duet.
According to a resurfaced Rated R&B excerpt from an unpublished 2019 interview with Blige’s former manager Kirk Burrowes, the “Don’t Waste Your Time” feature was first presented to the late Whitney Houston.
“I wanted Mary to do a duet with Whitney [Houston],” Burrowes shared, explaining that he wanted to leverage the business relationship he had formed with Davis from his time at Bad Boy Entertainment. “He had Whitney and Aretha Franklin, but what Clive did was cut the baby in half. So he set it up for me and Mary to do the Whitney duet on Divas Live, so I could get the Whitney duet that I wanted.”
During the Divas Live ‘99 special, Houston and Blige effortlessly paid tribute to the Queen of Soul with a rendition of her 1968 classic “Ain’t No Way.”
In an effort to get Blige and Houston on an original track, Davis was not interested in the idea of the pair collaborating at the time and wanted to focus on a Blige and Franklin duo instead.
“‘I was disappointed because Whitney and Mary at that time would have been, ‘Wow.’ But when he said, Ms. Aretha Franklin. I was like, ‘This is legendary. This is that moment to pass the baton,'” Burrowes said.
Davis’ mission served him well after the “Don’t Waste Your Time” cut was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 42nd annual Grammy Awards.