Avid fans of country music may have caught wind of the news that pop/R&B legend Lionel Richie is recording an album of duets, all with notable country stars as partners. The album is set to come out this year--likely around fall--but nothing has been publically heard from the project just yet.
That is, until this week! Music industry folks attending a private showcase on Wednesday in Nashville were stunned and delighted when Richie made a surprise appearance on the historic Ryman Auditorium stage. The superstar sat down at a piano and launched into the first verse of his 1984 classic hit "Stuck On You," to much cheering from the audience.
The cheers grew even louder when none other than Darius Rucker strode on stage and joined in, harmonizing beautifully with Richie's familiar vocals. The two singers melded together perfectly to the end, resulting in a standing ovation from the smiling crowd.
Richie's appearance with Rucker served as the showstopper finale of a showcase for Universal Music Group's country artists. The audience--having already been treated to performances from the label group's brightest and buzziest stars such as Sugarland, Jamey Johnson, and Vince Gill--was not expecting Richie (who is not on Universal's Nashville roster) to appear. Rucker was an added surprise, as he records for Capitol Records.
Happily for those who weren't lucky enough to be at the event, the Richie/Rucker "Stuck On You" duet will be part of Richie's country duets album and available to all later this year. Other artists confirmed for the project are Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, and Rascal Flatts. The Flatts' Joe Don Rooney tweeted recently about working with Richie, calling him "one groovy freakin cat."
Reportedly Richie is working to recruit Taylor Swift for the project, as well.
This isn't the first time Richie's dipped into the country world--born in Tuskegee, Alabama, he has cited country music as a childhood influence, and wrote the hit "Lady" which Kenny Rogers brought to No. 1 in the '80s.
If all the duets are as fantastic as the one witnessed at the Ryman--and I can personally assure you all it was quite amazing--I'm certainly counting down the days until I get my hands on Richie's album. How 'bout you?
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- country music