Lionel Richie Honored with Stellar Gershwin Prize Tribute Concert

2022 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honoree Lionel Richie on the event's red carpet.Photo: Lauren Hight / 97.1 WASH-FM

DAR Constitution Hall was celebrating Lionel Richie all night long last night (March 9) as the iconic singer was honored with the 2022 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and an incredible tribute concert paying homage to his biggest hits!

The star-powered tribute lineup included performances from 2019 Gershwin Prize recipient Gloria Estefan, Boyz II Men, Luke Bryan, Andra Day, Chris Stapleton, Yolanda Adams, Miguel and Richie himself. Comedian Anthony Anderson hosted the evening.

On the red carpet backstage, Richie was filled with gratitude when expressing his feelings towards this accomplishment. “It’s overwhelming,” he said. “To get a hit record, yes. To get a Grammy, yes, Even to get an Oscar.. but the Library of Congress, the Gershwin Prize... as my grandmother would say, that’s high cotton.”

During his acceptance speech, he would once again use his grandmother's words as well as remind the invite-only crowd that "love is the only answer."

"I travel the world, and all people really want me to say is I love you. We’re all one big family. We’re all the same. We may live in different places, but these songs are as popular on the other side of the world as they are here in DC. I love you is, forever, the only words the world wants to hear."

Attendees were treated to stellar covers of Richie's biggest songs during the hour long program. The setlist included:

  • Estefan opening the show with an electric performance of "Dancing On The Ceiling"
  • Stapleton putting his signature twang on "Say You, Say Me"
  • Boyz II Men thanking Richie for allowing them to cover The Commodores' "Easy"
  • Day stunning the crowd with her powerful version of "Hello"
  • Adams taking DAR Constitution Hall to church with "Jesus Is Love"
  • Miguel captivating the crowd with his take on "You Are"
  • Bryan sharing that he was thrilled to honor his "co-worker" but being rebutted by Richie as a "friend" prior to performing "Lady" on the piano

And the night finished off with the honoree himself. Richie once again took the stage to showcase why he is this year's Gershwin Prize recipient. Every individual in the room, from members of Congress to ushers, were swaying on their feet during his emotional performance of "We Are The World" and keeping the crowd up by closing the night with "All Night Long."

As described on the Library of Congress' website, The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song "is the nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in the field of popular song." The Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, teams up with music specialists, former Gershwin Prize Honorees and additional experts to select a new recipient each year. In reverse chronological order, previous honorees include: Garth Brooks, Estefan & her husband Emilio, Tony Bennett, Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Carole King, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder & Paul Simon.

A broadcast of the spectacular show recognizing Richie's contributions to music will air on May 17 on PBS.


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