Lionel Richie’s new album, Tuskegee, a collection of 13 of his biggest hits performed as duets with country stars, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart this week. This marks Lionel’s highest-charting album since 1986 and is the best-selling debut by a country artist so far this year. Tuskegee debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart, coming in behind Madonna.
“I am ecstatic!” Lionel said. “These songs are like my children, so I am overwhelmed that they are being embraced by several generations of music lovers. I am so grateful to all of my duet partners for bringing their own distinctive styles and personalities to this album and interpreting these songs in fresh new ways.”
Lionel is already looking forward to more days in Music City. “I have loved my time in Nashville and can’t wait to spend more time there writing songs and collaborating in the studio,” he said. “It inspires me creatively and being there just makes my heart feel good.”
Tuskegee is a hit outside of the United States as well. The album debuted at No. 1 on Canada’s Top Albums chart and is in the Top 10 in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Holland and Sweden. Tuskegee is Lionel’s first No. 1 album in Canada in the SoundScan era and his first No. 1 album in Canada since his Can’t Slow Down album in 1983.
“What makes this so special is that I am able to experience all of this with my children,” Lionel said. “They are too young to know about the Commodores or anything that I did in the eighties. They just know me as the dad who drives them to school. I’m glad they finally get to see what I do for a living!”
Besides sharing the album with his children, Lionel appreciates the chance to share the record with those who influenced and supported him from the beginning. He named his album Tuskegee after his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama as a way to pay tribute to his roots.
“These were the folks who encouraged me when the rest of the world had never heard of Lionel Richie or the Commodores,” he said. “I discovered that I was a songwriter in Tuskegee, Alabama, and this is where I wrote all of these songs. The roots of my writing, my storytelling, are from the South. I am thrilled that the city and the people that made me who I am today are being honored by the warm embrace this album has received. How fortunate I have been to discover that you can go home again.”
Tuskegee features duets with Jason Aldean, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington, Little Big Town, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton and Shania Twain. A deluxe edition of the album includes a DVD with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the recording studio.
Country stars gathered in Vegas the day after the ACM Awards to pay tribute to Lionel’s career in a concert special filmed for CBS. The special features performances by Lionel, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jennifer Nettles, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Rogers, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Marc Anthony, Sara Evans, The Band Perry, Martina McBride, Big & Rich, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean. ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends– In Concert will air Friday, April 13 at 9/8 CT on CBS.