Lionel Richie has the best-selling album in the nation this week with Tuskegee, his country duets project that has claimed the No. 1 spot on the overall Billboard Top 200 albums chart. Tuskegee also sits at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart for the second week.

With the week’s sales of 128,553, Tuskegee is now the best-selling country album of 2012. With overall sales of 422,856, the album is quickly approaching the 500,000 in sales required for a gold certification.

This is the album’s third consecutive week in the Top 5 of the Billboard Top 200. The album was released on March 26 and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 198,892, becoming the best-selling debut by any country artist this year. It debuted at No. 1 on the country albums chart and was his best sales week since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

“I love the feeling!” Richie says. “You cannot beat the feeling of sitting on top of the charts. I had almost forgotten what it feels like, but now that I am there, I know exactly what it feels like. It feels great! It is really a very exciting time and I am enjoying the ride.”

Richie is quick to thank the 13 duet partners who graciously joined him on this album.

“With a record like this, you can’t take the bow alone,” he says. “You take it with the wonderful talent that came onboard and believed in this project. It is just amazing to have all of the very talented artists, producers and musicians who participated in this. This was one big family reunion, as far as I am concerned. We take the bow together because it was an outstanding group effort.

“I would also like to thank my spectacular Mercury Nashville staff. They are the ones who took my hand and led me in the front door. I couldn’t have done this without the patience and diligence of Mercury Nashville.”

But most importantly, Richie thanks the fans. “They are the ones who made this possible,” he says. “This unbelievable result could not have happened without them. They are the ones who have stuck around forever with me. For the new ones and the old ones, it’s great to have them onboard.

“To the fans, thank you for allowing me to enjoy what I do for all of these years, and for enjoying what I do. I thank you for being a part of my story.”

On Friday, April 13, CBS aired ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends—In Concert, which served as a tribute to Richie’s influential career. The show featured performances by Richie, Jason Aldean, Marc Anthony, The Band Perry, Big & Rich, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Jennifer Nettles, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker and Blake Shelton.

“The success of this project speaks to the impact that this beloved icon has had on pop culture not only in America, but around the world,” says Ken Robold, executive vice president and general manager of Universal Music Group Nashville.  “With timeless songs performed with incredibly talented duet partners, Tuskegee has reminded us once again of the immeasurable talents of Lionel Richie, both as a singer and a songwriter. We couldn’t be happier for his return to the pinnacle and we are honored to be a part of this album.”

Tuskegee has become an immediate worldwide hit, debuting at No. 1 on Canada’s Top Albums chart and reaching the Top 10 albums charts in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Holland and Sweden. This is his first No. 1 album in Canada in the SoundScan era and his first No. 1 album in Canada since his sophomore solo album, Can’t Slow Down, in 1983. 

Tuskegee is the exciting new chapter in a storied career in which he has repeatedly defied boundaries and broken through barriers. Tuskegee fits in seamlessly with his timeless body of work that touches people of all faiths, ages and demographics across the world.

The album features duets of 13 of his timeless hits with Jason Aldean, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton and Shania Twain. The deluxe edition of the album contains a DVD featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the recording sessions with Richie and his duet partners.

The success of Tuskegee is a career highlight for Richie, who has earned album sales of more than 100 million, 22 Top 10 hits, five Grammys, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe and a host of other awards.

Richie will be inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame on June 4. He serves as a mentor on the new ABC summer show Duets.