Lionel Richie’s 2012 Tuskegee album, featuring duets of his hits sung with some of today’s biggest country stars (Blake Shelton, Shania Twain, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson), was the fourth biggest-selling country album of that year, with more than a million copies sold. So, one might rightfully assume that Richie would want to return to the well for another country collection.
“It’s coming,” he promised Rolling Stone Country backstage at Wednesday’s CMT Awards, where he and Bryan won the CMT Performance of the Year honors for their duet of Richie classics, “Oh No” and “All Night Long.”
While recording for the project is still in the early stages, the planning for it has been going on since the making of Tuskegee. It was then that he realized the plethora of country talent with whom he’d love to collaborate.
“You cannot not be inspired,” he said of immersing himself in the Nashville music scene. “What I’m missing in the pop world and in the R&B world are great songs. And whether I want to admit it or not, country’s writing songs that are sticking around for the next 400 years. They’re writing music. And so, this is my heaven. When my record company came back and said, ‘Would you consider another one? How do you feel about country?’ I said, ‘Well it’s pop music to me.’ So I’m going to stay around here for a while. I love all of my new friends. My ‘brand new old friends,’ as I call them.”
Richie’s still deciding on the lineup for the next project, but there are already two big names on his wish list.
“Luke is there,” he said. “Keith Urban. These are ‘the guys,’ as far as the next group I want to play with onstage. See, I always translate things to stage. You can’t have that much fun backstage if you can’t have it onstage. That’s where I’m going right now.”