Lionel Richie has the ‘best night’ as he receives songwriting honour

Lionel Richie declared he was having “the best night of my entire life as a songwriter” as he accepted a prestigious music prize on Thursday (09Jun16).

The All Night Long singer was honoured by the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel with the institution’s most coveted prize, the Johnny Mercer Award, named after the lyricist and founder of Capitol Records, for his career achievements.

Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Lionel by performing Still from his band the Commodores, and when Lionel took to the stage to accept the accolade, he recalled how he resented being pigeonholed as a ballad singer.

“This is the best night of my entire life as a songwriter,” he said, according to AFP. “I developed into something that even I did not know who I was… All the songs that I created were the songs that they told me would ruin my career.”

He told the audience that he eventually told music executives, “Let’s stay out of the category business and get into the music business.”

The 66-year-old also performed his 1984 classic song Hello at the piano.

Nick Jonas also received an honorary prize – the Hal David Starlight Award for his impact on the music industry through original songs. Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, Nile Rodgers and Chip Taylor were inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Marvin Gaye and Nile’s late Chic bandmate Bernard Edwards were inducted posthumously.

Gaye’s widow Jane Gaye told the audience, “I was able to watch him write his songs, and everyone can’t say that. There are a few people in the room that can, but to watch him create and to watch his process was something truly unique, sometimes irritating, honestly.”

Empire singer Jussie Smollett honoured Gaye with a rendition of What’s Going On, while actor Jon Voight took to the stage to praise his brother Chip Taylor, who later performed hit track Wild Thing with his three granddaughters.

Nile performed an acoustic version of Chic’s classic song Le Freak and was joined onstage by Sister Sledge for rendition of We Are Family, which he wrote with Bernard.