The song was originally developed for the prison scene where Pocahontas visits Captain John Smith before he is to be put to death for the alleged murder of Kocoum, Chief Powhatan's warrior whom Pocahontas was going to marry. The musical number, which was about 90% animated, was to be a duet performed by the pair as they acknowledge their love for each other. Because during test screenings with child audiences their attention "seemed to wander from the film", Alan Menken, the composer of the songs for Disney's Pocahontas, suggested it be cut because he also felt that it slowed the pace of the movie, with another song, Savages, not five minutes after. Though cut from the movie itself, If I Never Knew You was still performed by Jon Secada and Shanice at the end credits and released as a single. It had a few different lyrics than the film's original lyrics.
In 2005, Disney released the tenth anniversary edition of Pocahontas, which had the song fully animated and integrated into the film, but was an optional feature that you could refuse and watch the original theatrical version instead, due to seamless branching. It was performed by Mel Gibson (Captain Smith) and Judy Kuhn (Pocahontas) within the film's narrative. It was recorded for the original film in 1995.
The music video was released on Disney Channel in 2006. It features the girls pulling up at a club in a limo wearing white, sparkly dresses and then entering the club to perform the song on stage surrounded by a crowd. Scenes of the girls out on the dance floor dancing with some gentlemen are inter-cut throughout the video.