International superstar and five-time Grammy award winner, Lionel Richie, will be honored by UNCF–the United Negro College Fund–at its 31st annual An Evening of Stars® (AEOS). The event will take place on September 12, 2009 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium and will be televised nationwide in January 2010. The two-hour musical tribute will feature an array of artists performing the songs Richie has made famous. A graduate of Tuskegee University, a UNCF member university, Richie will receive UNCF’s Award of Excellence for his long and distinguished career as a singer-songwriter, record producer and for his history of support for minority education. He joins previous AEOS honorees Lou Rawls, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle. AEOS performers and participants will be announced in the coming weeks and tickets will be available for sale beginning Saturday, August 1st at Ticketmaster.com.
“Lionel Richie’s music makes up the sound track of our lives,” said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., president and CEO of UNCF. “He is a national treasure, and we’re proud to claim him, not only as a graduate of our storied member school, Tuskegee University, but as an artist of international renown and a longtime supporter of UNCF and the work we do to make sure that every child in America gets an education that starts in preschool and doesn’t end until college graduation.”
Lionel Richie has attracted a national and international following throughout his career as a member of a group and solo artist. He began his career in 1967 when he co-founded the sensational 70’s group The Commodores while he studied at Tuskegee. In 1971, the group signed a deal with Motown and went on to become one of the most popular U.S. funk bands of the 70’s. The Commodores were responsible for hits such as “Machine Gun” and “Brick House” before creating a slew of slow jam Richie-penned classics like “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady” and “Sail On.”
In 1980, Richie embarked on a solo career and began writing and producing albums for such 80’s superstars as Kenny Rogers and Diana Ross before releasing his own self-titled solo album in 1982. His quadruple platinum Motown debut set Lionel on a record-breaking path with the success of “Can’t Slow Down” — which won a Grammy for Album of the Year – and 1986’s massively-successful “Dancing on the Ceiling.” Richie also co-wrote the 1985 world anthem “We are the World” with Michael Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones for USA for Africa. The endeavor went on to raise over $65 million for the charity formed to raise money for famine relief efforts in drought ridden and politically unstable Ethiopia.
Richie recently released “Just Go,” his third Island Records album since 2001. On “Just Go,” he works with three of today’s hottest hitmakers Tricky Stewart & The Dream (Mariah Carey, Usher); Stargate (Ne-Yo, Shakira, Rihanna); and Akon, one of today’s most prolific performer-producers.
“Just Go” caps the most recent period of non-stop activity for the Alabama-born entertainer, whose many career accomplishments include five Grammy Awards, an Oscar, eleven American Music Awards, five People’s Choice Awards, a “World Music Lifetime Achievement Award” and a much-deserved Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Richie, whose timeless compositions have become synonymous with American music, has managed a long and successful career in an industry that can be fickle and often favors the new.
Returning for his 13th year as executive producer and director of “An Evening of Stars®” benefiting UNCF is six-time Emmy Award winner Louis J. Horvitz. One of the industry’s most accomplished and sought-after live television producer/ directors, Horvitz has directed the annual Academy Awards® telecast for 13 years. He has also helmed the “Prime Time Emmy Awards®” a total of 14 times, directed The Kennedy Center Honors® for 16 years and the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement Award tributes a total of 18 times.
About An Evening of Stars®
An Evening of Stars® (AEOS), formerly the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars®, first aired in 1979, and since that time has become one of the longest running and most successful televised events in U.S. history. Lou Rawls, a spokesperson for UNCF and champion for AEOS for more than 25 years, is credited with helping raise more than $200 million to help UNCF scholarship recipients and member institutions and their students pay the cost of higher education. This year’s show, now in its 31st season, was made possible by Target, as the Presenting Sponsor of AEOS and by national corporate sponsors McDonald’s, and AT&T. Official sponsors of An Evening of Stars® are American Airlines, Wachovia A Wells Fargo Company, Anheuser-Busch Companies, BET Networks and WGN America. In recent years, AEOS has featured a Who’s Who of recognizable talent, including Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Chaka Khan, Ne-Yo, Nancy Wilson, Beyonce, Anita Baker, Jill Scott, Whoopi Goldberg, Fantasia, Joss Stone, Jennifer Hudson, Michael Bolton, Natalie Cole, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Hall and Oates, Ziggy Marley, Maroon 5, and scores of others. An Evening of Stars® has received Image Awards for its 2006 tribute to Stevie Wonder and the 2008 tribute to Smokey Robinson. Learn more about AEOS at www.uncf.org/aeos.
UNCF—the United Negro College Fund—is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 39 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 18 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at www.UNCF.org