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Soulful Syreeta & Born-Again Billy Preston

‘With You I’m Born Again,’ from the ‘Fastbreak’ soundtrack, became an easy listening staple and one of the biggest hits either artist ever had.

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With You I'm Born Again Billy Preston & Syreeta

There are countless examples of hit songs that have outlasted the films they came from. You may have to go a long way to find a movie buff waxing nostalgic about Columbia Pictures’ 1979 American comedy film Fast Break, starring Gabe Kaplan. But a single released from its soundtrack as a duet between two successful soul artists became an easy listening staple, and one of the biggest hits either of them ever had.

‘With You I’m Born Again,’ a ballad written by Carol Connors and David Shire, paired the talents of keyboard great (and former Beatles alumnus) Billy Preston and Motown notable, and ex-wife of Stevie Wonder), Syreeta. Both had accomplished track records to their name, Preston with two US pop No. 1s in ‘Will It Go Round In Circles’ and ‘Nothing From Nothing’; Syreeta with signature hits including ‘Spinning and Spinning’ and ‘Harmour Love.’

Fastbreak poster

Fast Break was not a successful film, but the single was released on Motown in Europe and started to sell, entering the UK charts on 15 December 1979 in the anchor position of the top 75. The song climbed to No. 43 but then stalled in the week after Christmas and appeared to have peaked, before refuelling in the new year (and new decade) and going on to spend two weeks at No. 2 later in January. Only the preeminence of the Pretenders’ ‘Brass In Pocket’ stopped it being a No. 1.

After a slow start in America, concurrent with the UK chart entry, ‘With You I’m Born Again’ went on to reach No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, to the considerable surprise of Billy and Syreeta themselves. The song was revived as a soul duet by Kenny Lattimore and Chanté Moore in 2003, and by Vanessa Williams and George Benson in 2005.

‘With You I’m Born Again’ is on the True Mellow compilation, which can be bought here.

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