Lionel Richie is already a pop music legend but he is also hoping to become a venerable fixture in the Country Music world, as well. His latest album, “TUSKEGEE” is currently Number 1 on the charts. The album of duets, featuring Country Music royalty such as Blake Shelton, and Rascal Flatts debuted 3 weeks ago at Number 2, but has quickly climbed past the competition to claim the top spot. Richie has moved over 537,000 units, to date. Critics are loving Richie’s album as well. Rolling Stone Magazine, raved about the successful collaborations in Tuskegee, offering an odd but glowing endorsement of the album. In verbiage that can only be described as questionable, Rolling Stone describes Tuskegee, as an album filled with Lionel Richie’s, “Cottony R&B hits with a bunch of country stars”. They continued that the “collaborations jell because Richie’s style is so expansive, musically and emotionally”.
Richie’s success is a part of a continuing trend in Country Music, as African Americans from other genres find increasing acceptance, in the once discriminating industry. Nelly and Kandi Burruss, among others have found success as writers, producers and occasional features with Country musicians. And Country music has changed as the influence from these artists continues to be felt. Darious Rucker, the famous front man of Hootie and The Blowfish, found the country world to be entirely receptive and friendly. In 2009, he became the first African American to win the New Artist Award from the CMA, Country Music Association and only the second African American to win any award from the association. As Country music becomes more open, it is likely that more African Americans will find success in the genre. Richie becomes just the second artist to have reached No. 1 on both Country Albums and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The first was Ray Charles.