Lionel Richie will release Tuskegee, a collection of 13 of his hit songs recorded as duets with some of the biggest names in country music, on March 27. Duet partners include Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Darius Rucker, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and more.
In addition to the album, 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, in Las Vegas on April 2. The special will air at a later date on CBS. Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, and Kenny Rogers are among the artists scheduled to perform.
On Tuskegee, Lionel returns to his roots, paying tribute to his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama where he was shaped as a man and a musician. He grew up listening to country, gospel, R&B and classical music and it was in Tuskegee that he helped form the Commodores and wrote some of his earliest hits.
“Tuskegee is where it all began, the place where I felt that everything was available and possible,” he said. “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.”
The artists who worked with Lionel have their own connections to the legend’s songs. “Every Lionel Richie song that I can think of I had a personal experience with – high school homecomings, proms, you name it,” Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts said. “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.”
This isn’t Lionel’s first venture into country music. His songs have been recorded by Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers and Alabama, while other artists have covered his songs in their sets. He’s performed on the CMA Awards three times and his 2011 performance received two standing ovations.
“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,” Lionel said. “It was just great validation to know that the music was accepted like it was.”
On the album, Lionel asked his duet partners to choose the song they wanted to record and ignore his original version. He encouraged them to make it their own. “I wanted it the way they would do it in their show, which means I captured their essence,” he said. “You make the song a Willie Nelson song. You make the song a Rascal Flatts song.
The recording of Tuskegee was some of the most fun Lionel has ever had in the studio. “Tuskegee is going to be one of the most special albums I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. “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.”
Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee Track List:
- “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