Following in the footsteps of Babs, McCartney and Dylan, Lionel Richie will be honored as the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year. The annual benefit gala dinner and concert — this year’s event, on Feb. 13, marks the 26th — is one of the highlights of Grammy week, with proceeds going to MusiCares, which assists musicians in need. Last year’s event, honoring Bob Dylan, raised a record $7 million for the non-profit organization.
Richie, a four-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who rose to fame as a member of the Commodores and whose hits include “Three Times A Lady,” “Easy” and “All Night Long (All Night),” is being recognized for his “significant creative accomplishments as well as his career-spanning charitable work,” according to the Recording Academy. Richie’s philanthropic endeavors include support for AIDS, human rights, famine, poverty, human trafficking and women’s issues.
In 1985 he co-wrote the pioneering anthem “We Are the World” to benefit African famine relief, selling more than 20 million copies. His charity work also extends to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, City of Hope, Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and UNICEF, among others.
“Lionel’s artistry is a genuine blend of emotional connection and poignant lyricism, and we look forward to a truly magical evening that will highlight his astonishing and inspiring body of work,” said Bill Silva, chair of the MusiCares Foundation Board, in a statement.
“This is the highest honor in our music business because it means you have a career,” added Richie via the Recording Academy. “You’ve survived the journey, if you will. The people who have been there defy categories. When you say Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney — are you kidding me? When I got in this business I wanted to be like them.”