LAS VEGAS — With a smile on his face and a swagger in his step, Lionel Richie truly enjoyed himself at the all-star tribute concert in his honor Monday night (April 2) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. And for older music fans who grew up listening to his pop hits, the show could’ve gone on all night long.
Titled ACM Presents: Lionel Richie and Friends in Concert, the special airs April 13 on CBS. The mutual admiration between Richie and his duet partners was evident throughout the three-hour taping. There was almost a visible glow emanating from the stage. To paraphrase a famous lyric, that’s why it’s easy to just sit back and enjoy the music.
Without giving too much away, it’s fair to say the show didn’t follow a rigid structure. Sometimes Richie delivered his hits without a singing partner, which satisfied his longtime fans. At other times, country stars like Jason Aldean, The Band Perry and Martina McBride serenaded Richie, who was occasionally seated in the audience, with their own versions of his hits.
Still, the collaborations brought out the best in everyone. Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Jennifer Nettles, Rascal Flatts and Darius Rucker offered memorable duets with Richie, and nobody could keep their hands off of each other. Although none of them have known Richie for long, there’s an obvious chemistry there. Those five artists are among the country stars appearing on Richie’s Tuskegee, which debuted on the country albums charts at No. 1 this week.
In addition to paying musical tribute, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum and Kenny Rogers shared their own amusing anecdotes about Richie’s music, which brought a lighthearted element to the show. In addition, his daughter Nicole Richie spoke highly of her father in a short speech while Richie himself said he was tickled to finally sing live for his family.
“Now they get to see what I do for a living!” he teased.
Shania Twain did not make a surprise appearance to sing “Endless Love” with Richie, although they have released a music video for the romantic song. However, for this show, Sara Evans and pop star Marc Anthony stepped in for a compelling duet of the enduring ballad.
Meanwhile, Big & Rich couldn’t resist their own rendition of Richie’s signature party anthem, even though the duo decided to inject a little bit of “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” into the mix.
Richie didn’t seem to mind. By then he was running with the night, and everyone in the brick house was cheering him on.View photos from the Lionel Richie tribute.