When you think of outstanding artists whose names have been engraved on the sands of time, you must mention Lionel Richie.

Over the years, this sensational crooner has created many hits that have placed him in the spotlight.

As an artist, he has confronted daunting challenges, but persistence and adherence to certain principles made him victorious.

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Today, he is a living legend the world is still celebrating.

Lionel Brockman Richie is an award-winning American singer and songwriter who created several hits starting with the Commodores and as a solo artist.

Born in 1949, Richie grew up in Tuskegee Institute Alabama.

In an interview, he revealed that the school and surrounding community provided a conducive and supportive environment to him growing up.

“I was born and raised in a community where if somebody can’t eat, the whole town goes to feed him,” he said in an interview with Esquire.

As we look at the life of Lionel Richie, we would analyse how he handled expectations that were thrown at him. Expectations such as: succeeding as a musician, his struggles and other challenges he faced before becoming a success.

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Today those challenges are no longer expectations but now his reality.

Listen to Lionel Richie’s greatest hits.

Our focus in studying the life of Lionel Richie is to extract pratical principles that made him successful in his career.

And I believe upcoming artists that will imbibe these principles will also set themselves ready for success.

Here are the principles:

1. He Developed His Skills:  

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While growing up, he learnt how to play saxophones and pianos. As a student in Tuskegee Institute, he formed a succession of R&B Groups in the mid–1960s. Then later became the founding member of the Commodores in the late 1960s. 

As a member of the group, he contributed by playing saxophones and piano for the group. It was an opportunity for Richie to put into showcase his saxophone and piano skills. He also contributed vocals for the R&B group.

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At this phase of his life, Lionel Richie was disciplined and concerned about his input.

If you take your time to observe any of the Commodore’s videos you will notice how passionate and committed Richie was to the group.

His commitment proves the saying of Roy. L. Smith, an American clergyman to be true. As he quotes “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.”


2. Richie Resolved to Succeed in His Career amid Personal Challenges:

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After recording success with the Commodores, Richie launched out in 1982 as a solo artist.

His debut solo albums contained three hit singles: “Truly” “You Are” and “My Love”.


This solo album placed the spotlight on him as he sold over 4 million copies.

Success was no longer a far the artiste as his successive hit in 1983 “Can’t Slow Down” sold over twice as many copies and won him two Grammy award, including album of the year.

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 Amid these successes, he had a personal issue that would have been a reasonable excuse for not living up to expectations.

In 1975, Richie married his first wife Brenda Harvey. The marriage grew strained which led to a divorce in 1993. He then remarried 2 years later to Diane Alexander but also divorced in 2003.

While going through these challenges he was resolute about succeeding in his career no matter what was facing.  

Martin Luther King Jnr quotes: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

A closer look at his career when he was going through his personal issues revealed he was soaring and making an impact.

He had three more top ten hits in 1984, In 1985, Richie wrote and performed “Say You, Say Me” for the film White Nights. The song won an Oscar for his efforts and reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts.

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Richie also collaborated with Michael Jackson on the charity single “We Are the World” by USA for Africa, another number-one hit in 1986.

He continued through the years even as he made a return following the release of his first greatest-hits collection, Back to Front, in 1992.

3. Music was a Calling and not just a Pursuit:     

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“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”–John F. Kennedy

Growing up Lionel Richie wanted a platform where he wanted to impact lives.

While he was in Tuskegee Institute, he toyed with the idea of becoming an Episcopal preacher (a priest). 

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But after self-assessment, he knew it wouldn’t work, and then he pursued his love for music.

Richie was seeking for platforms where he could make an impact, no wonder he was excited when he was invited to co-write “We Are the World.” A song he co-wrote with Micheal Jackson.

When you listen to Lionel Richie’s songs, the lyrical contents are clear and direct.

It will create an atmosphere for relaxation leaving you thinking about love.

In December 2017, Lionel Richie was recognised for his standout career as one of the year’s Kennedy Center honorees, alongside with Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear and Carmen de Lavallade.  

Lionel Richie is a living legend the world is still celebrating today.

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