Lionel Richie Is Returning to Country Music
Pop music icon Lionel Richie has revealed that he's planning a return to country music, nearly seven years after his last country project became a huge hit.
Richie was on hand to present the trophy for Entertainer of the Year at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville during the 2018 CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 14), and in a red carpet interview, he told Nashville's Tennessean newspaper that he's "about to make that move right now."
The pop and R&B legend, who shot to fame with the Commodores in the 1970s before launching an enormously successful solo career in the '80s, released his first full-blown country project, Tuskegee, in 2012. He re-recorded his greatest hits in new collaborations with country artists including Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Little Big Town and more for that album, which debuted at No. 1 and went platinum.
Richie says he's had many questions since as to whether he might be interested in doing more.
"They keep asking me over and over again ... A lot of times, people try to make up something to make it happen," he shares. "But I'm getting it from country radio: 'When are you gonna do it?' So let's (not) play around. Keep your ears open. It's gonna be something surprising."
Richie declined to give further details, but he did name Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran and Chris Stapleton as three artists he avidly follows.
"I call him, 'Mr. Stapleton,' because he keeps calling me a legend. So I have to give him a title," Richie jokes.
Richie says he enjoys the respect he gets from country artists whenever he's in Nashville. He currently works with Luke Bryan as a judge on American Idol, and he says the superstar has been trying to convince him to buy a house in Music City.
"And I said, 'No, Luke, the town ain't big enough for the two of us.'"
The Tennessean reports that Richie is likely to announce a new project before May, in time to reveal the news on American Idol.
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