Music icon Lionel Richie will release Tuskegee, a collection of 13 of his international hits recorded with some of the biggest names in country music, on March 27 on Mercury Nashville.
His duet partners on Tuskegee include Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington and Little Big Town.
On this worldwide, multi-genre album, Richie is also joined by the likes of such superstars as Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett.
In addition, the Academy of Country Music and dick clark productions will tape an all-star concert special, Lionel Richie and Friends “In Concert” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 2. The show will air at a later date on the CBS Television Network. Some of his greatest hits will be performed by Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers and many more.
Tuskegee is an exciting new chapter in a career that has seen album sales of more than 100 million, 22 Top 10s, five Grammys, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe, and a host of other awards.
Tuskegee is also a musical homecoming that feels like a heartwarming reunion with a beloved friend. He proves that you can go home again as he returns to his Southern roots to pay tribute to his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama, where he was indelibly shaped as a man and a musician. He was exposed to country, gospel, R&B and classical music while growing up, and it was in Tuskegee where he helped form the Commodores and wrote his first hits, including “Sail On” and “Easy.”
“Tuskegee is where it all began, the place where I felt that everything was available and possible,” he says. “It’s where I learned about life and love and the power of music, and the place I built a musical foundation that knows no genres or boundaries.”
“Doing this album was coming back to the beginning, back to basics, back to home,” he says. “The part of it I love the most is that the journey has been one of discovering myself. By the time I got back to Nashville, I clearly knew that the roots of my songwriting, my storytelling, were from the South.”
It’s also been a process of rediscovering the hits that have served as the soundtrack of the lives of generations around the world. “Every Lionel Richie song that I can think of I had a personal experience with – high school homecomings, proms, you name it,” says Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts, who duets on “Dancin’ On the Ceiling.” “Lionel was always playing in my house. His music always said what we felt and couldn’t express.”
Says Darius Rucker, who joins Richie on “Stuck On You,” “I wanted to work with Lionel because he is one of my idols. Lionel’s more a part of my DNA really than an idol. It was an absolute honor to work with him.” Adds Jason Aldean, who selected “Say You, Say Me,” “I’ve always been a huge fan. He is probably one of the best singer/songwriters of this generation.”
Once again, Richie is following his songs as they take him back to country, where they have been welcomed for more than two decades. Conway Twitty recorded “Three Times a Lady,” Kenny Rogers famously sang “Lady” and Alabama recorded “Deep River Woman.” Artists such as Tim McGraw, Darius Rucker and Rascal Flatts perform his songs in their shows. He has performed on the Country Music Association Awards three times, and his 2011 performance receive two standing ovations and was recognized as the highlight of the evening.
“When I did the CMAs and the room was singing along with me, it was really more like a family reunion than it was a concert or show,” he says. “It was just great validation to know that the music was accepted like it was.”
These innovative musical interpretations have given new meaning to his songs while serving as a powerful reminder of the timelessness of his impressive body of work. He asked the other singers to select the songs and ignore his original version and instead perform the song as if it were their own. “I wanted it the way they would do it in their show, which means I captured their essence. You make the song a Willie Nelson song. You make the song a Rascal Flatts song.
“It’s special to the point where it sounds new again, so I’m excited just as the writer, as the original parent of this child. I’m excited to see another generation embrace the music.”
Richie says recording Tuskegee was perhaps the most fun he’s ever had in the studio. “Tuskegee is going to be one of the most special albums I’ve ever done in my life. This is something that’s going to be so special forever because it’s a moment in time when these artists all got together and celebrated some music,” he says. “What started out as a collaboration of a group of very talented, very successful artists ended up growing into brand new, very good friends.”
Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee Track-Listing:
- “You Are” with Blake Shelton
- “Say You, Say Me” with Jason Aldean
- “Stuck On You” with Darius Rucker
- “Deep River Woman” with Little Big Town
- “My Love” with Kenny Chesney
- “Dancing On The Ceiling” with Rascal Flatts
- “Hello” with Jennifer Nettles
- “Sail On” with Tim McGraw
- “Endless Love” with Shania Twain
- “Just For You” with Billy Currington
- “Lady” with Kenny Rogers
- “Easy” with Willie Nelson
- “All Night Long” with Jimmy Buffett