After a brief hiatus American Idol is coming back to television, this time on ABC. Among the judges is R&B legend Lionel Richie. Richie has has been in the music industry for decades and has created timeless music. In a recent American Idol commercial, he cited that he started his musical career at Tuskegee University. So let’s chronicle Lionel Richie’s HBCU affiliation!
Lionel Richie enrolled in Tuskegee University on a tennis scholarship after completing high school in 1967. He graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics. While a student at Tuskegee, he formed a musical trio with peers Thomas McClary and William King called The Mystics. The Mystics performed at proms and dances in Tuskegee, then merged with another local group called The Jays in 1968. Upon joining together they changed their collective name to The Commodores, based on the old naval term for the rank between captain and admiral.
They were freshman at the point that they formed the group and even won the university’s yearly freshman talent competition. They started to perform at frat parties and got a regular weekend gig at the Black Forest Inn. Black Forest Inn was a club that was a popular for teenagers at the time. They used these venues to build their following and hone their skills. They signed with Motown in 1972 and started touring with the Jackson 5.
Here’s something I didn’t know Lionel Richie is Greek! He was initiated into the Alpha Nu Lambda Alumni chapter at Tuskegee University. He also a member of the band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi! Shout out to Legendary Tuskegee Alumnus Lionel Richie! I wish him much success in this new endeavor as an American Idol Judge!
Check out ’74 Tuskegee Alumnus giving the Commencement Speech at his Alma Mater in 2010!