TAMPA — Lionel Richie will take the stage Sunday, July 28, 7:30 p.m., at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa.
According to a biography provided by Red Light Management, among accolades such as selling over 100 million albums and achieving countless honors from an Academy Award to four Grammy Awards, one of the accomplishments Richie is actually most proud of is his bachelor’s degree in economics from Tuskegee University.
“Normally, the titles career musician and college graduate are mutually exclusive, but they’re not for me,” Richie said. “That’s not typically the story with these things. Let’s start with the fact that I was born and raised on the university campus.”
While attending Tuskegee University, Richie bumped into a couple members of the Commodores — known as The Mystics back then — walking across the grounds. At the time, he happened to be carrying a saxophone.
“They thought I brought my horn to school because I could play it,” Richie said. “I didn’t tell them that I was bringing it to school so I could learn how to play it. The joke I tell all the time is, ‘I was the best horn holder who ever lived for the first two years I was in the band.’”
Richie slowly learned to play. He also learned to feel confident in the spotlight.
At Motown, he discovered a surprising truth.
“I started interviewing top artists of the time like Marvin Gaye, and I realized that most of them couldn’t read music,” he explained. “My grandmother was a classical piano teacher, and she tried to teach me, but I never entirely grasped it. I thought that was a pre-requisite to songwriting though. The key was given to me, and I realized, ‘Holy crap, I can do this too.’”
As a member of the Commodores, Richie went on to develop a groundbreaking style. He authored smash hits such as “Three Times A Lady,” “Still,” and “Easy.” Richie wrote “Lady” for Kenny Rogers. He wrote “Endless Love,” signing the duet with Diana Ross. The single garnered an Academy Award and a Golden Globe nomination.
Motown asked him to do a solo album. The self-titled debut would cement him as a star in his own right and earn him his very first Grammy for the hit “Truly.”
Through the years, his music has continued to push boundaries and unite listeners worldwide.
In addition to a total of four Grammys, he won ASCAP’s Publisher of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as 16 American Music Awards, five People’s Choice Awards, a World Music Lifetime Achievement Award, TV Land Icon Award, Germany’s Echo Award for Lifetime Achievement, Hong Kong’s Rojo Award, Goldene Kamera Award, Italy’s San Remo Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Governors Award, and more. He received the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award presented at Harvard University. He’s been inducted to both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and knighted in France receiving the Legionnaire Award.
In 2016, he earned Songwriters Hall of Fame’s most prestigious accolade, the Johnny Mercer Award. Most recently, he received the Ivor Novello PRS for Music Special International Award in London. Always giving back, his charity work extends from Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center to UNICEF and The Art of Elysium.