Grammy Awards 2021: Lionel Richie Honors Kenny Rogers with ‘Lady’ Performance

by Jon D. B.

Lionel Richie paid tribute to Kenny Rogers Sunday night by singing the iconic tune, which he wrote for his late friend.

In a moving highlight of tonight’s 2021 Grammy Awards, this March 14, pop icon and American Idol judge Lionel Richie honored his longtime friend and collaborator, Kenny Rogers, in the most perfect way possible.

Sporting a somber ensemble underneath a black trench coat, Richie took to a ethereal, dark stage. With Rogers’ face projected behind him, Richie proceeded to sing “Lady,” the life-altering song the two icons crafted together. Gone was the piano-heavy arrangement of the original recording for his memorial performance. In its place, Richie sang over a beautiful, acoustic guitar-centric version of the classic. The song, however, retained all of its sweeping romance in a phenomenal tribute for a friend – by a friend.

“Tonight at the #GRAMMYs, @LionelRichie honors the late great Kenny Rogers with “Lady.” Keep watching this beautiful tribute on @CBS,” the Recording Academy tweets of the performance with an accompanying glimpse:

Celebrating Kenny Rogers

For Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers, “Lady” would forever change both friends’ lives. The timeless ballad also became an undeniable sensation upon release. Their collaboration hit listeners in September 1980 as part of the Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits album. To this day, it holds the#60 spot on Billboard’s All Time Top 100.

Now, over 40 years later, Richie remembers his close friend with this beautiful tribute.

‘I miss you, Kenny,” he spoke somberly to end his memorial. “I miss you, man…”

The two would remain close until Rogers passing last year. The country icon would leave us March 20, 2020 at the age of 81 from natural causes.

“Kenny Rogers passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family. The family is planning a small private service at this time out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency. They look forward to celebrating Kenny’s life publicly with his friends and fans at a later date,” Rolling Stone reported at the time.