When one of the biggest music icons is honored, it’s only fitting that a star-studded tribute follow suit. The opportunity to celebrate Lionel Richie’s legacy at the MusiCares Person of the Year Gala Saturday night in Los Angeles brought out the likes of Pharrell, Usher, Rihanna, Demi Lovato and more for an evening of stellar musical tributes and charity as well.
After guests munched on heirloom tomato salads topped with fresh mozzarella lemon zest, and red wine braised short ribs, herb roasted chicken and more, the auction began, with a private house concert with Lionel Richie for a guest and 24 friends selling for $325,000 (!). Lenny Kravitz soon kicked off the performances following that, with the rocker singing his hit "Where Are We Runnin?" in a black leather jacket and pants, as Richie, who sat next to daughter Sophia and girlfriend Lisa Parigi, danced in his seat. Lionel’s oldest daughter, Nicole Richie, didn’t make it to the show, but sent a video tribute from Good Charlotte’s show at the O2 Arena in London that included her husband Joel Madden his brother Benji Madden and wife Cameron Diaz.
Host Jimmy Kimmel took the stage next, walking out in a white jumpsuit with gold panels and a huge afro, saying to the crowd, “Who’s ready to Party, Fiesta? Tonight we pay tribute to a man that had a dream—an awesome dream—and we are going to relive that dream over and over again. All night long,” he added, referencing Lionel’s hit song. And the show went full speed from there, with back-to-back stellar covers of Lionel’s songs.
Florence and the Machine put a rock twist on "Dancing on the Ceiling,” Chris Stapleton performed “Lady,” Luke Bryan sang The Commodores “Oh No,” and Ellie Goulding crooned “Sail On.” Rihanna, fresh from her first NYFW show for Puma, also hit the stage, sporting a bob and a sheer, floor length, floral dress that she paired with funky pointed sneakers, and sang "Say You, Say Me.” RiRi capped off her performance by saying: "Congratulations Lionel Richie I love you."
Usher brought the crowd to their feet, as he ran out on stage in a black shirt topped with red sequins and said, "where are my sexy ladies at?,” before performing The Commodores “Lady.” Meanwhile, John Legend and Stevie Wonder made guests swoon, with Legend singing “Easy Like Sunday Morning” as he tickled the ivories in a gray velvet blazer, and Wonder getting a standing ovation from the crowd (Lionel included) after performing “Three Times a Lady” at a keyboard. “He’s a great songwriter, a great musician…I'm truly honored to be a part of honoring him tonight,” Wonder told us about Lionel before the show.
Following their performances, Dave Grohl sang “You Are the Sun,” and Lovato joked that she was only there because she “grew up watching [Nicole Richie’s] Simple Life,” before singing “Penny Lover.” Meanwhile, Pharrell, The Roots, Tori Kelly, Little Big Town, Corinne Bailey Rae, Leon Bridges and Gary Clarke Jr, performed an epic medley together, which included “Sweet Love,” Just to Be Close to You” and “Brick House.”
Earlier in the night, Rae told us she found Richie, “inspiring,” adding, “he teaches artists to not be so obsessed with genre and thinking they had to fit into a certain style.” As Richie took the stage to wrap up the evening, it was revealed the event broke records for money raised for MusiCares’ emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery programs for musicians. “I know now why God gave me those songs,” Richie said. “To stand on this stage tonight and thank all of you for raising over $7 million to help my brothers and sisters in this room. We have raised more money than they ever raised before in the history of this organization. I could not be more proud of all of you. Thank you so much for supporting me.” He went on to sing a song that everyone had been waiting for, his iconic “Hello” and “All Night Long,” before wishing everyone a good night.
See more celebrities attending the pre-Grammys parties this weekend!