Lionel Richie is a man who can't slow down. In addition to his upcoming appearance on Dick Clark's ABC-TV special, "New Year's Rockin' Eve," the singer/songwriter is shifting into promotion mode for his next Island Records studio album, "Just Go."

Set for release Feb. 17, the album is currently represented by lead single "Good Morning." The midtempo song-produced by The Movement-stands at No. 35 on Billboard's Adult R&B chart after three weeks. Rounding out the list of "Just Go" songwriting/production collaborators are Chris "Tricky" Stewart, Terius "The-Dream" Nash, Ne-Yo, Stargate, Akon, Johnta Austin and Taj Jackson.

“Lionel Richie 2009 .... What does he sound like? That's the question I asked everyone," says Richie of working with several of the hottest names in contemporary R&B/hip-hop. "Some of these guys don't always necessarily deal with true melody. But we were committed to melody from beginning to end. They knew I wasn't going to break into a rap," he adds with a laugh.

The resulting album picks up where "Coming Home" left off, with Richie describing "Just Go" as a "little more pop with a fabulous R&B foundation." Marking Richie's return to his R&B roots, "Coming Home" peaked at No. 3 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (his highest-charting set since 1992) and No. 6 on The Billboard 200 (highest since 1986). According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold 444,000 to date. His comeback single from that album, "I Call It Love," was crafted by Stargate and Taj Jackson. It climbed to No. 19 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and became Richie's biggest hit since 1996.

Richie's musical handiwork also appears on the current Hidden Beach Recordings compilation, "Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement." Inspired by president-elect Barack Obama's campaign, the set includes songs by Sheryl Crow, John Mayer, and Kanye West. Richie contributed the original song "Eternity," which also includes Obama speech excerpts.

"There are very few chances to write a song that marks a moment in history," says Richie who, with Michael Jackson, co-wrote the 1985 benefit anthem, "We Are the World." Adds Richie, "Being able to use Obama's voice gave me the weight I needed to say everything I wanted to."

So will Richie be performing at one of the inaugural events in January? "I've not met [president-elect Obama], but we've communicated by phone," he says. "And there's a hint it might happen."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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