SANTA MONICA — Lionel Richie will be honored as the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year at a Feb. 13 gala to be held two nights prior to the Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy announced Wednesday.
Proceeds from the 26th annual benefit dinner and concert to be held in Los Angeles during Grammy Week will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that members of the music community have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.
Richie was chosen in recognition of his “significant creative accomplishments as well as his career-spanning charitable work, which has included support for an impressive range of causes over the years, ranging from AIDS and human rights to famine, poverty, human trafficking and women’s issues, a MusiCares statement said.
Richie is also a longtime contributor to the United Negro College Fund.
“Each year our MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honors an extraordinary artist and humanitarian who lends their considerable time and talents to raising the funds necessary to continue to meet the ever-increasing need for our programs and services,” said Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the MusiCares Foundation and the Recording Academy.
“And it is truly a privilege to be paying tribute to Lionel, whose musical gifts and philanthropy have touched millions of people around the world,” he said.
Richie said he was “really very proud of this.”
“As far as I’m concerned, this is the highest honor in our music business because it means you have a career. You’ve survived the journey, if you will,” he said. “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. When you get recognition like this, it’s everything,” the former Commodores frontman said.
“It really is the top of the mountain when it comes down to what your industry gives as recognition for great work, and the opportunity to help raise funds to sustain MusiCares’ critical safety net of programs for members of the music community is momentous to me.”
To date, confirmed tribute concert performers include multi-Grammy winners Lady Antebellum and Pharrell Williams, as well as country singer/songwriter Luke Bryan, with more to be announced.
Rickey Minor, current music director for “American Idol” and past two-time music director for the Grammy Awards, will be the evening’s musical director.