Lionel Richie is no stranger to country music. Just last year he released Tuskegee, which featured 13 of his best-known songs re-recorded as duets with such country artists as Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, Jennifer Nettles, Shania Twain and Rascal Flatts.
Earlier this week, Richie shared the stage with Luke Bryan during the CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, performing his hits “Oh No” and “All Night Long.” In an interview with Country Weekly he confessed that Bryan may have convinced him to further deepen his roots in the country community and to consider a follow-up to his 2012 release.
“Luke put the final nail in the idea. I walked onstage with him and I realized the magic of performing. Country has it down pat,” Richie said. “These guys to me are just great new country. I love the idea of [recording] one thing, maybe two or three, with Luke and a couple of the other crazy guys.”
During the special, Richie admitted he was surprised that Bryan didn’t want to perform one of his own songs.
“I kept saying to Luke, ‘Don’t you want to do one of your songs?’” Richie said. “He said, ‘Lionel, we can do my songs later. We’re going to do your songs tonight.’ Can you believe it? I’m really honored.”
Bryan’s generosity may have just scored him a slot on Richie’s next release.
“He’s first on the list,” Richie said.
When Bryan gets that phone call from Richie he might not be as surprised as Darius Rucker was when Richie asked him to be on his album Tuskegee. In an interview with Radio.com last year, Rucker admitted he thought the phone call from Richie was a prank.
“I’m sitting in my house and my cell phone rings and I answer it and the guy goes, ‘Darius, this is Lionel Richie.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah right.’”
Having been the target of practical jokes before, he was skeptical.
“It was just wild for Lionel Richie to be calling me and asking me to sing on his record. I mean, this is Lionel Richie. I say to people all the time, ‘He’s more than an idol. He’s part of my DNA,’” Rucker said. “For me, to meet somebody who is an absolute idol, who I don’t think I could be the singer I am today without and for him to be much cooler than I ever thought he would be, that was an awesome experience. To know that somebody could be that big and just be a nice guy. That was awesome.”