Lionel Richie will be honored with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize on Tuesday. Ahead of the moment, the singer caught up with CBS’ Sunday Morning to talk about his lifetime achievements.
Lionel reflected on growing up by Tuskegee University, where he was surrounded by Black lawyers, war heroes, doctors and more, and joked that his parents “had a nervous breakdown” when he decided to pursue a music career with the Commodores.
“You could see everyone passing going, ‘Oh, there’s poor Lionel. Poor misguided Lionel!,'” he chuckled. Of course, the Commodores scored numerous chart-topping singles with Richie as their lead singer, before he set off a solo career.
Lionel reflected on his success, which saw him cross into the mainstream and anger some of his original R&B fan base. “Someone asked me a question one day, ‘Lionel, how does it feel that you’ve left your roots?'” Richie recalled. “And I said, ‘Did you ask that to the Beatles? Did you ask that to the Rolling Stones? Everyone came over to borrow from us, but I can’t go that way?'”
The singer also reflected on his hiatus at the peak of his career, which he took to care for his ailing father, who passed in 1990. “It gave me an opportunity to kind of take a look over my shoulder just a little bit to see where I was in altitude. And it was frightening,” he reflected. But, he added his father’s death gave him a new perspective on fame.
Lionel now sees his career as an “adventure,” which he says “is just an amazing ride.”
He also admitted it’s been 13 years since he released an album of all-new songs, but teased he’ll break the dry spell “this year.”
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