Hello, Austin. We have what you're looking for. Lionel Richie, whose timeless hits include "Easy and "Endless Love," will headline Billboard's annual showcase at South by Southwest's Music Festival on March 14 at Austin's ACL Live. Marking Richie's SXSW debut, the showcase will focus on the icon's catalog spanning 44 years in the hit-making business and promises a fair share of surprise guests.
Joining Richie will be an eclectic mix of the buzzworthiest acts visiting Austin this year, including indie darlings Poliça, stylish party band Wallpaper., retro-soul rockers Vintage Trouble and R&B hit maker The-Dream, who has achieved international success as a solo artist and also composed a string of chart-topping singles for artists such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Mariah Carey.
"Three Times a Lady"
"All Night Long (All Night)"
The opportunity to explore new music with other passionate fans was just one of the reasons Richie chose to make his first trip to SXSW.
"It's so great to be a part of a festival that for two decades has helped launch the careers of some important new artists and celebrates iconic artists who have had a lasting impact on the musical landscape," he said. "I'm looking forward to checking out some of the new bands that I've been reading about for the last several months and making some new friends who share my passion for music."
Richie, whose 10th album "Tuskegee" is scheduled for release on March 26, has created an unforgettable body of work both as a solo artist and as frontman of pioneering '70s soul/funk band the Commodores. "All Night Long (All Night)," "Say You, Say Me," "Hello," and "We Are the World" are just a few of the 22 top 10 hits he's had on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"Tuskegee" is a collection of many of those hits, but on the album Richie is joined by some of the biggest names in country music including Kenny Rogers, Jason Aldean and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles. He plans on bringing that spirit of collaboration to SXSW as well.
"I will be joined by a surprise guest who will help me unveil music from 'Tuskegee," Richie said of Billboard's showcase in Austin. "I can't think of a better way to launch this album than by sharing the new music at South By Southwest."
Bill Werde, Billboard's editorial director, calls Richie's canon of hits "amongst the most beloved and time-tested" of any artist today.
"That his current project is built on those hits gives you a sense of what to expect at the show," he said. "Add to that some of the amazing artists that we have up our sleeve to join Lionel on stage, and you're looking at a night that will be one memorable moment after another. This show is going to blow people way."
Billboard's 2012 SXSW showcase show will begin at 8 p.m. CT on March 14 and is open to festival badge holders. A limited number of non-badge holders will be able to buy tickets at the door as well.