Luke Bryan honored his longtime friend, American Idol cohort, and musical hero, Lionel Richie with a performance of “Lady” during the star-studded PBS special, Lionel Richie: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Seated at a piano, the Georgia native delivered a beautiful rendition of the chart-topping hit as a tribute to his “co-worker.”
“Lady” was written by Richie and recorded by the late country music icon Kenny Rogers. The song was also produced by Richie and released on his 1980 album, Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits.
Richie later record “Lady” for his album, Time, in 1998. The superstars recorded the song as a duet in 2012 when Richie released his country music collaboration project, Tuskegee.
Ahead of the tribute performance, Bryan lauded Richie and his contribution to music.
“He’s the most creative interpreter of a love song,” Bryan said, according to USA Today. “You didn’t put him in a category; he was just the world’s music.”
Lionel Richie: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song was recorded at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. on March 9 and also featured performances by Gershwin Prize honoree Gloria Estefan, Boyz II Men, Andra Day, Chris Stapleton, Miguel, Yolanda Adams, and a special performance by honoree Lionel Richie. The event was hosted by actor and comedian Anthony Anderson.
According to a press release, the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors living musical artists whose contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations of musicians.
Watch Luke Bryan’s performance at the 36:16 minute mark:
“This is truly an honor of a lifetime, and I am so grateful to be receiving the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” Richie, an Oscar winner, and four-time GRAMMY recipient, said. “I am proud to be joining all the other previous artists, who I also admire and am a fan of their music.”
Previous recipients of the Gershwin Prize include Garth Brooks, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett and more.
Lionel Richie began his career with the Commodores and went on to have an outstanding run as a solo artist with hits like “Truly,” “All Night Long,” “Dancing on the Ceiling,” “Hello,” and more.
Richie was previously recognized as a Kennedy Center Honoree (2017) and included as a MusiCares’ person of the year in 2016.