Lionel Richie Excited for ‘Tuskegee’ Reunion at CMAs
"I'm showing up with my rhinestone boots and my turquoise cape, so just get ready!" Lionel Richie jokes with The Boot, eagerly anticipating Wednesday's CMA Awards.
Nothing he wears could outshine the performance the legendary singer/songwriter has on tap for the live broadcast. He'll be joined by three duet partners from his upcoming album, 'Tuskegee' -- Darius Rucker, Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts -- for what will likely be a medley of classic Lionel Richie tunes.
"You are going to see some friends on stage," says Lionel. "We didn't quite know each other that well, but the time we spent in those recording sessions, it made us old friends forever."
On 'Tuskegee,' Darius performs 'Stuck on You' with the icon, while Little Big Town tackle 'Deep River Woman' and Rascal Flatts go 'Dancing on the Ceiling.' Other collaborators on the project of countrified Lionel Richie classics include Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Shania Twain, Jimmy Buffett and Tim McGraw, just to name a few. (See the album's full song list below.) Lionel explains the common ground among all tracks is originality.
"A lot of times when you do duet albums, they try to copy the artist they're paying tribute to," he says. "What I wanted to do was bring in everybody and their arrangement, so that it would sound like something they would do on their own."
Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and several others played instruments during their respective recording sessions, turning down the offer to hire outside musicians. And in addition to taking the reins musically, collaborators also took vocal leads, as Lionel jokes that he was just a "visiting" artist on the project.
"With Darius, I said, 'What part are you going to sing?' and he said, 'Your part. What else?'" the legend recalls with a laugh. "A funny thing was that I would walk in with a lyrics sheet and they'd go, 'What's that for? We know this song better than you do!'"
'Tuskegee,' named after the singer's Alabama hometown, is expected for release in March 2012. So while most artists use an awards show performance to promote a current album or song that viewers can immediately buy, Lionel defends the timing of his Nov. 9 CMA Awards appearance as a means to get the 'Tuskegee' hype going early ... and to satisfy his own eagerness to share this new music with fans.
"There's such a diverse group of country artists on this, so the setup of this record is going to take a lot longer than just two or three weeks," he explains. "They asked me, 'Do you wanna perform this year or next year?' I said, 'Guys, let's do it right now!' I've been trying to sing these songs in restaurants, I'm so ready to put this album out. I want to be there to get this thing going. I want the community of Nashville and country music to be proud. It's been a dream of mine for a long time."
Lionel Richie, 'Tuskegee' Track List:
1. "You Are" (With Blake Shelton)
2. "Say You, Say Me" (With Jason Aldean)
3. "Stuck on You" (With Darius Rucker)
4. "Deep River Woman" (With Little Big Town)
5. "My Love" (With Kenny Chesney)
6. "Dancing on the Ceiling" (With Rascal Flatts)
7. "Hello" (With Jennifer Nettles)
8. "Sail On" (With Tim McGraw)
9. "Endless Love" (With Shania Twain)
10. "Just for You" (With Billy Currington)
11. "Lady" (With Kenny Rogers)
12. "Easy" (With Willie Nelson)
13. "All Night Long" (With Jimmy Buffett)