Rihanna, Usher, Stevie Wonder pay tribute to Lionel Richie

LOS ANGELES -- Rihanna, Usher, Stevie Wonder and John Legend paid tribute to Lionel Richie in a musical tribute touching on his roots in R&B to his string of romantic, easy-listening ballads that ruled the airwaves in the 1980s.

See Full Article

They joined The Band Perry, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton and Ellie Goulding in launching Grammy weekend Saturday night by honouring Richie as the MusiCares Person of the Year.

Richie was toasted for his musical achievements and philanthropic work two days before the Grammy Awards. The 66-year-old singer-songwriter launches a string of South American tour dates later this month.

Rihanna, wearing red sneakers with her red and white floral gown, sang "Say You, Say Me" backed by a string section.

Usher showed off his dance moves on the buoyant "Lady (You Bring Me Up)."

"You really got the white people up and dancing," cracked host Jimmy Kimmel, who came out sporting a huge Afro and a white jumpsuit. After seeing old clips of Richie in sequined jumpsuits, Kimmel joked, "He has so many terrible outfits."

Lenny Kravitz, Florence Welch and Dave Grohl provided the most unpredictable versions of Richie hits. Kravitz kicked off the 2 1/2-hour show with a rock version of "Running With the Night" that included a guitar solo. Welch's take on "Dancing On the Ceiling" featured guitar-strumming and rhythmic hand-clapping from the idle string section.

Grohl, lead singer of Foo Fighters, showed off a rare romantic side with a jaunty version of "You Are" that had the crowd on its feet dancing. He explained his connection to Richie came about last year after Grohl broke his leg on tour. Richie sent the rocker a huge basket of muffins as consolation, and Grohl saluted him as the "Muffin Man."

Legend performed "Easy" on piano, and Wonder touched on Richie's early days with the Commodores by doing "Three Times a Lady."

Yolanda Adams and a choir injected powerful gospel into the proceedings, earning one of the night's standing ovations.

Pharrell and the Roots were joined by Little Big Town, Leon Bridges, Tori Kelly and Corrine Bailey Rae for a medley that culminated in the Commodores' classic "Brick House."

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey did a cappella snippet of "Mr. Bojangles" before introducing Richie, who gave a shout-out to his "fabulous" hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama, where he met the Commodores in college.

Richie said that from his earliest hits he didn't realize how the music business worked, with R&B, pop and country in separate categories.

"I did not know that there were categories until I walked into a station one day and they said, 'We can't play your record because it's too black,' " he said. "So I went home and wrote 'Easy' and I brought it back. They said, 'We can't play the record because it's too white.' I was confused."

"The slogan in those days was, 'Lionel Richie crossed over and can't get black,' " he said, drawing laughter. "Today I am standing here celebrating all the songs they told me would ruin my career."

In his acceptance speech, Richie poked fun at his reputation for crooning baby-making music.

"I am the father of mankind," he said. "More men have come up to me and said, 'Lionel, I have made love to you many times.' "

Richie took to the piano to play and sing "Hello" before closing things out with "All Night Long (All Night)" as confetti blasted the stage.

Among the crowd were producers Quincy Jones and David Foster, Motown founder Berry Gordy, David Crosby and Joe Walsh.

Saturday's dinner and auction earned $7 million, the highest grossing evening in the tribute's 26-year history, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said.

"I cannot be more proud of all of you," Richie told the crowd at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

MusiCares, run by the Recording Academy, provides financial assistance to individuals in the music industry during times of need.


Latest Entertainment News

  • Pop stars and fast cars: Taylor Swift plays Formula One

    Entertainment CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas -- With their red, white and blue tutus and Taylor Swift t-shirts, Rachel Emling and Mikala Crews were everything Formula One wanted at the U.S. Grand Prix: young fans who would travel across the country for a mix of pop stars and fast cars. Source
  • 80s pop star Rick Astley explains his exile and return to music

    Entertainment CBC News
    Rick Astley walked away from the music industry at the height of his pop star success in the 1980s and says he never regretted it. "When you're in the middle of it, some people rise to it and they become that life and that's who they are," Astley said in a phone interview from his home on the edge of London, England. Source
  • Comic's comic Kevin Meaney dead at 60

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    FORESTBURGH, N.Y. — Kevin Meaney, a comic’s comic who worked the standup circuit, was a staple on late-night TV and starred in the short-lived 1990s CBS series “Uncle Buck,” has died at age 60, his agent said Saturday. Source
  • YouTube stars meet fans, each other at Toronto Buffer Fest

    Entertainment CBC News
    YouTube has proven its power to catapult people into stardom—think Justin Bieber, Brampton's Alessia Cara and Australian-born teen star Cody Simpson, to name a few. At Toronto's Buffer Festival, from Oct. 20-23, online creators are reminded they're rockstars in their own right, at least when it comes to YouTube. Source
  • Comic's comic Kevin Meaney died at age 60

    Entertainment CTV News
    FORESTBURGH, N.Y. - Comic Kevin Meaney, who worked the standup circuit, was a late-night TV staple and starred in the short-lived 1990s series "Uncle Buck," has died. He was 60. Agent Tom Ingegno said Saturday his client was found dead Friday at his home in Forestburgh, New York. Source
  • Emmys 'not rigged': TV Academy fires back at Donald Trump

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Television Academy fired back at Donald Trump's claim that the Emmys are rigged. And celebrities are backing up the annual awards show. In a tweet earlier this week with a link to its voting process, the academy said: "Rest assured, the Emmys are not rigged. Source
  • 'Gilmore Girls' fangirl writes cookbook inspired by TV show

    Entertainment CTV News
    Just in time for the highly anticipated return of "Gilmore Girls" next month, a fangirl has written a cookbook inspired by the caffeinated, fast-food, deep-fried-loving tastebuds of one of TV's most beloved mother-daughter duos. Fans of the show will undoubtedly have cleared November 25 on their calendars to watch the first of four episodes debuting on Netflix. Source
  • Salma Hayek: Trump made story up because she wouldn't date him

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Mexican actress Salma Hayek has accused U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump of telling tales about her after turning down his advances. The Frida star opened up about her links to the Republican during an appearance on radio show El Show del Mandril on Friday, and wanted to set the record straight about a story she claimed Trump’s associates leaked to the National Enquirer. Source
  • Gord Downie's Secret Path enhances his legacy

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Have you ever felt like you were witnessing history? I thought I was two months ago as The Tragically Hip wrapped up their Man Machine Poem tour in their hometown of Kingston and I was lucky enough to be inside the K-Rock Centre while about a third of the country watched it live on CBC. Source
  • Lindsay Lohan facing bankruptcy over unpaid rent: Reports

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Lindsay Lohan is allegedly facing bankruptcy after failing to pay the rent on her $4.3 million London flat. Lawyers for the landlord of the property, located in the exclusive Knightsbridge area of the British capital, have issued the 30-year-old with legal papers demanding payment of six months of overdue rent, totalling $95,000. Source