Lionel Richie was honored with the prestigious Gershwin Prize, and event that featured performances and cameos from Gloria Estefan, Boyz II Men, Richie’s American Idol co-host Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton, Andra Day, and Miguel.
The event was hosted by Anthony Anderson at the DAR Constitution Hall in DC. The show is set to air May 17 on PBS.
The Gershwin Prize, named for the songwriting duo of George and Ira Gershwin, is awarded annually by the Library of Congress to an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding. Past honorees include Garth Brooks, Tony Bennett, Billy Joel, Carole King, Paul McCartney, and Willie Nelson. The Gershwin Prize was not given out in 2021. The last musician to receive it, in 2020, was Brooks, who at then-57 became the youngest to be awarded the honor.
Richie reflected on some of the themes that have been consistent in his career: “Love is the only answer to everything we’re doing,” he said. “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.”
“In so many ways, this national honor was made for Lionel Richie, whose music has entertained and inspired us— and helped strengthen our global connections,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a statement upon the announcement of the award. “Lionel Richie’s unforgettable work has shown us that music can bring us together. Even when we face problems and disagree on issues, songs can show us what we have in common.”