February 13, 2012 at 11:06 am , by Lauren Piro
On his new duet album, Tuskegee, Richie reinvents some of his greatest hits with the help of Nashville’s megastars. We asked him what it was like to collaborate with these A-list country crooners.
He’s a gentle giant, but when he opens his mouth, he sings like he’s trying to reach the back of the barn. His vocals on “You Are” were great except for one thing: When was I supposed to come in? He just owned the song.
Before Tuskegee, Shania hadn’t recorded or performed live in seven years. She was in paralysis—she was sure she’d never sing again. But she sang “Endless Love” with me and blew it away. I was so happy for her.
She can hold a note for about six and a half weeks, so I really had to rise to the occasion for our “Hello” duet. Literally, Lionel Richie had to put on his helmet and go into combat on that vocal.
I couldn’t get him to sing any other song but “My Love,” and he knew it better than I did! That was the big compliment to me while recording this album. I’d give each one of the singers lyrics, and they’d ask “Why are you giving me these? I know the song by heart.”