Anita Cochran Marks 25th Anniversary of “What If I Said” Hitting No. 1

“February 9, 1998, changed my life forever,” Anita Cochran wrote on Facebook, marking the 25th anniversary of her duet with Steve Wariner, “What If I Said.”

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The somber ballad hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and remained at the peak position for 2 weeks. It also earned the duet partners a CMA nomination for Vocal Duet of the Year and a People’s Choice Award for Best Vocal Collaboration. Given all of that prestige and more, “What If I Said” jump-started Cochran’s career at a rate many country hopefuls coming to Nashville only dream of.

Elsewhere in her post celebrating the milestone, Cochran detailed the story behind the song and how Wariner came to sing the track with her.

“I had signed to Warner Bros. Records and was writing songs for my first record,” she wrote. “My manager knew what I fan I was of duet partners Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, George Jones & Tammy Wynette, and so on. He said to me ‘You love duets, why don’t you write one for your record?'”

She continued, “At that time and years prior there weren’t many duets anymore…like they had fallen out of being popular. Well, I wrote one anyway. Sitting in my little studio in my parent’s house in Michigan. I wrote the song. I knew it was special when I finished it and felt really good about it. I had been a fan of Steve Wariner for many years.”

After the duet was fleshed out, Cochran brought up both Wariner and Vince Gill as potential duet partners.

“They reached out to Steve to see if he would be interested in singing it with me…this new girl in town who also played guitar,” the post continued. “Steve said yes! First time I met him was in the studio while we sang the song together.”

A large part of Cochran’s pride in the song comes from the extreme fan reaction even prior to its release. “What If I Said” wasn’t originally going to be released as a single. It wasn’t until after radio DJs started sharing the song around and phone lines began to light up that Cochran pushed for the song to be given its time in the spotlight.

“Thank you Jim Ed Norman [producer/president of her label] for listening to an artist..and to what radio and the fans truly wanted,” she wrote.

She wrapped up her thoughts by writing, “This song was the kick-off to my career and led me to do just about everything I ever wanted to do career-wise. From Radio to the Grand Ole Opry stage, TV, travel the world, work with so many amazing artists on the road….to be the beginning of a beautiful chance to live a dream. As the dream continues…thank you.”

Check out her full post, HERE. Revisit the No. 1 song, below.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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