Lester Cohen/WireImage An A-list roster of stars from all major genres of music showed their appreciation for Lionel Richie Saturday night by performing their takes on his major hits, as Richie himself was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year for 2016.
The event took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center and began with video comments from artists who couldn’t be there, including U2’s Bono, as well as recorded comments from Richie himself. Then host and admitted Richie super-fan Jimmy Kimmel took the stage, channeling Richie from his days with the Commodores in the 1970s by wearing an afro wig and a fringe coat. “He has so many hits, he has so many terrible outfits,” Kimmel declared. “I have to say, it’s hard to imagine singing about being easy on Sunday morning dressed like this. But Lionel Richie did it.”
Then the hits began, with some interpretations clearly working better than others, but all of them clearly heartfelt. Among the most solid performances were Rihanna’s take on “Say You, Say Me,” John Legend’s performance of “Easy,” The Band Perry’s three-part country-tinged harmony on “Endless Love,” and gospel star Yolanda Adams’ performance of “Jesus Is Love.”
Among the more pleasantly surprising renditions of Richie’s hits were Florence + the Machine frontwoman Florence Welch’s solo acoustic take on “Dancing on the Ceiling,” country singer Luke Bryan’s “Oh No,” and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl’s straight-ahead, grinning delivery of “You Are,” performed after he told a funny story about Richie’s anonymous delivery of “the biggest muffin basket I’ve ever seen” while Grohl was recovering from his broken leg last year.
Then Richie himself took the stage, delivering remarks in turn heartfelt and funny, particularly when he recounted the number of people over the years who have told him how they’d made love and conceived children while listening to his music. “I am the father of all mankind,” Richie declared. He of course saved his signature hits for himself, delivering “Hello” and “All Night Long” for a delighted audience.
Other participating artists included country star Chris Stapleton, Pharrell with The Roots, Kevin Spacey, Stevie Wonder, Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding, and Lenny Kravitz.
Proceeds from Saturday’s 26th annual MusiCares event go to MusiCares, which provides support for the music community in times of financial, medical and personal need. The organization is the charitable arm of the National Recording Academy of Arts & Sciences, which awards the Grammys.
The 58th annual Grammy Awards air Monday night on CBS starting at 8 p.m. ET.
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