Luke Bryan Honors Lionel Richie With Dazzling Cover of ‘Lady’ at Gershwin Ceremony
Luke Bryan was part of an all-star lineup honoring Lionel Richie as Richie received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The country singer performed "Lady" as a tribute to his fellow American Idol judge as he received the esteemed award.
The pre-taped celebration titled Lionel Richie: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song aired on PBS on Tuesday (May 17). The performances were recorded at DAR Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C., on March 9.
"You know how we all have bad days. I wake up, I have a bad day. And then I tell myself that somewhere, Lionel Richie ain't having a bad day, so you better have a good day," Bryan says ahead of his performance.
"To be here for nights like this means the world to me, wouldn't miss it for the world," he adds. "This guy is everything you believe he is, I promise you. So, I'm honored to be here."
Watch Bryan's performance at the 36-minute mark:
Bryan jokingly wipes his brow after his effortless rendition of Richie's hit song. He then trots over to embrace his friend, who is sitting stage right.
Richie wrote "Lady," which the late Kenny Rogers recorded in 1980. Richie would later record the song for his 1998 album Time. Rogers and Richie also joined forces on the song for a powerful duet in 2012 for Richie's country project, Tuskegee.
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is a distinguished honor given to living artists and musicians who have exemplified a standard of excellence on a par with its namesakes, George and Ira Gershwin. According to PBS, their work is a vehicle of cultural understanding, it entertains and informs audiences, and inspires new generations of musicians.
Previous Gershwin Prize recipients include Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and more.
Bryan has been a fan of Richie for quite a while, and after five seasons judging American Idol together, the two have become friends. Bryan was also on hand to honor his pal during the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in 2017. He sang the 1983 hit "Penny Lover" and "Sail On" from Richie's time with the Commodores.
Bryan and Richie will judge the Season 20 finale of Idol on Sunday (May 22). Up next, Bryan will embark on his Raised Up Right Tour. Riley Green and Mitchell Tenpenny will serve as opening acts for the dates, which run from June 9 through Oct. 28.