Lionel Richie’s having a very good year. At 62, the singer/songwriter shows no signs of retirement – or of aging, but that’s another story. His latest release “Tuskegee” went #1 and has become the year’s top-selling album selling 789,000 copies. While no one has approached Adele’s astonishing total of 3.3 million records sold in the digital era, Richie’s current CD has outsold all three of his previous ones. Maybe it’s because the album has some additional star power – a collection of duets with contemporary country artists. Its guests include Shania Twain, Jennifer Nettles, Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney.
“This album continues to amaze me and I am so grateful for all that it has accomplished,” Richie says. “Just when I think it couldn’t get any bigger, 'Tuskegee' reaches a new level of success. When I came up with the idea for 'Tuskegee,' I didn’t want to be confined by boundaries of age, genre or demographics. I am thrilled with how well this album has been received by people from all walks of life. It is truly living up to the vision we had when we created it.”
Richie can also be proud of another accomplishment – he’s been inducted into the Apollo Hall of Fame. He joins Etta James as one of the inductees, whose names are set into the sidewalk outside the legendary theater. This year’s ceremony also included special tributes to Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius and Nick Ashford.
“The Apollo is such an important part of music history in this country, and my own personal history," Mr. Richie said. "When they called and said they were putting me on that list of names, I was thrilled. It's an honor to be a part of the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame."
What does Richie think keeps him going after all these years? The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and composer got his start at Tuskegee and remembers telling his father he was going to drop out of school and join a band. While his father didn’t think that was such a great idea, obviously Richie’s decision turned out for the best. He believes it’s because he followed his heart and did what he truly loved to do.
“Passion first. Whether it's falling in love, falling out of love, being lonely for love, or searching for love, there's a passion to all of it,” Richie told The Huffington Post. “So what I seek out in my life is real, true emotions. Authenticity. And when I sit down to write, I tap into that. You know how it feels when you're listening to a great sermon and you feel "ahhhh, that hits a chord, he's speaking to me"? That's where I go to write.”