Lionel Richie eyeing return to country music charts

Soul and R&B veteran Lionel Richie has teased his return to the country music charts by declaring he's working on "something surprising".

The Hello icon previously tackled the genre with his 2012 album Tuskegee, revamping some of his biggest hits as country collaborations with the likes of Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker, and Blake Shelton.

Now Lionel reveals he will soon be offering up new material for fans, who have been eager to hear more country-tinged tracks from the music great.

"They keep asking me over and over again... A lot of times, people try to make up something (rumours) to make it happen," he chuckled to The Tennessean. "But I'm getting it from country radio: 'When are you gonna do it?'

"So let's (not) play around. Keep your ears open. It's gonna be something surprising."

Lionel, who helped to present the Entertainer of the Year honour at Wednesday night's 2018 CMA Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, stopped short of offering up specific details about the project, but reveals he's a big fan of singer Chris Stapleton.

"I call him, 'Mr. Stapleton,' because he keeps calling me a legend. So I have to give him a title," he smiled.

Another country star he has gotten to know well is Luke Bryan, his fellow judge on the rebooted American Idol talent show, who has been urging the 69-year-old crooner to purchase a pad in Nashville, but so far, Lionel has refused.

"I said, 'No, Luke, the town ain't big enough for the two of us (sic)!'" he quipped.

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