Lionel Richie Cut-By-Cut

Tuskegee

Lionel Richie's 2012 CD, Tuskegee. Photo courtesy of UMG Nashville.

"This was an interesting journey for me because it was delivered to me as, ‘This will take about three weeks. Country albums are done fast. We’ll knock these songs out.’ Nine months later and beyond my wildest dreams creatively, something was finished that even blew me away.

"I discovered this album to be a labor of love. At the same time, how we created this album, what it was supposed to be, is probably the mystery of the studio. How you start an album off and what it ends up being is a journey. Nine months later, I must tell you, Tuskegee is going to be one of the most special albums I’ve ever done in my life. It’s hard enough to pull off one duet, and we did 13 for this album. This is something that’s going to be so special forever because it’s a moment in time when these artists all got together and celebrated some music.

"By far, this is probably the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio because I didn’t have a clue as to what it was going to be from one session to the next. What started out as a collaboration of a group of very talented, very successful artists ended up growing into brand new, very good friends. We’ve had so much fun! I’ve learned more jokes and have jokes that I can never say again.

"I’m proud of the fact that this album has renewed my faith in mankind because this is what the business is supposed to be, where you walk into a room and you can be you and I can be me and we can have some fun together. Egos never came into the room. It was never about that."
-- Lionel Richie

1. "You Are" with Blake Shelton

"Blake Shelton and ‘You Are’ was the third song picked for the album. I was just getting my feet wet of how to record country style, which is the artist, the band, producers, everybody in the same room at the same time. And in walks this guy with more shirt than I’ve ever seen before in my life! A seven-foot-tall guy who claims he’s Blake Shelton and had the voice.

"I kept saying, ‘We do have a microphone. You don’t have to sing quite that hard!’ The joke with him is that he knew the song better than I did. I let him sing the song down by himself to get him comfortable with the song, not realizing he knew the song in great detail, to the point where I had a problem putting my voice on Blake Shelton’s song, ‘You Are.’ That’s our joke because it was truly an eye opener. I said to all these artists, ‘I want you to make this song your song; don’t worry about me. I can handle me. You just make sure you’re comfortable.’

"At the end of that song, he was comfortable and I was not until I got my vocal in there. But it was a fabulous, eye-opening experience because Blake has the voice of life. I love working with him. He’s fascinating."

Blake Shelton: "Lionel comes walking in. He'd been there for a while, and it's just a different energy in the room 'cause he's just talking so much. He saw me, and he came over and introduced himself and thanked me 50 times for being there. I felt ridiculous with him thanking me."

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