Lionel Richie promises Tuskegee 2 is coming.
“It was so natural, so organic and it didn’t seem like it was trying and it certainly was successful – why not try to do it again?” said Richie of his No. 1 album, 2012’s Tuskegee, a collection of country duet reimaginings of his hits.
“What would you think would be the No. 1 question (in all these interviews)? ‘Are you going to have a second album?’ So by the time I finish these 40 interviews the answer is, ‘I think there might be a Tuskegee 2.’ Only because it’s like saying, ‘Well, we’ll do Spiderman 1 and you want Spiderman 2 right?’”
In the meantime, the 65-year-old singer-songwriter, who’s sold 100 million albums over the last four decades both with the Commodores and a solo artist and was just named Billboard’s 2014 Legend of Live honoree, is travelling North America this summer with his All the Hits All Night Long tour – his first real trek in a decade – with CeeLo Green as his opening act.
It launched on May 29 in Vancouver and now has three remaining dates in Canada (July 28 in Montreal, July 30 in Toronto and July 31 in London, Ont.).
We caught up with Richie down the line from his office in California to talk more about Tuskegee 2 and find out what it’s like playing shows up in Canada.
When we’ll we get to hear Tuskegee 2?
I’ll do most of it while I’m on tour, and when I say that, framing it. And then probably August-September I’ll record it. And then the first of the year, you’ll hear some magic.
Will we get to hear you sing with more Canadian artists like you did with Shania Twain on Endless Love on the first Tuskegee?
That was so much fun and I want to do that. I want to just make it a special issue where I come up and record some stuff just for Canada ‘cause what I’m finding out is that the loyalty of that country, you got it. When you say you love somebody, it’s done. And by the way, so much talent coming from there, that even dealing with Shania Twain, she told me, ‘You know, I’m Canadian.’ David Foster, all these wonderful people that I know, that I deal with on a daily basis, these are my Canadian partners. It’s really a place that, for me, if I had a choice of really finding a place to chill out, summertime and springtime only thank you, it would be Canada. ‘Cause you guys in the wintertime... it’s bad for my afro.
Would you like to perform in more Canadian markets?
Yes of course... And you’d be surprised to know how many artists are not successful in Canada. Once they are famous in America, they just don’t consider Canada. Canada, to me, has the European mentality which is once they fall in love with you, it’s forever. Whereas here in America, you’re only as hot as your last record. So if you happen to stick around for 40 years in America, you are really doing something. But Canada they are loyal to the core. I’m not just saying that. I believe in what I’m telling you because I can stay away for ten years and come back and the pandemonium of showing up is like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It’s wonderful.
And how does the more hip hop-influenced and wacky CeeLo Green seem like a good opener for a more mainstream R&B-soul artist like you?
It’s Yin and Yang. If I had to think of it like this, ‘Do I want similar on the show? No.’ I want something of shock value. Like, ‘Lionel Richie and CeeLo Green? Are you kidding me?’ Well, that’s exactly what I’m looking for because I want it to be an evening of excitement. And sitting on your hands is not what I’m going to be doing here. If you’re coming to the show, check your tickets to see who is sitting around you because you’re going to hear them singing more than me. It’s karaoke on steroids. And so guaranteed, you will get the guy singing Endless Love and you’ll go, ‘Will you shut up? I can’t hear.’ And he’s singing to his wife or his girlfriend and the whole thing. It’s going to be an evening of complete craziness. And I love that kind of a show.