Stop by Lionel Richie's Beverly Hills home on a weekend afternoon, and there's a good chance he'll be outside, clippers in hand. "If I'm really relaxing, I'm cutting hedges," he says. "It's a form of meditation."
In fact, the singer-songwriter, 62, calls the 28-room, 17,000-sq.-ft. mansion he's owned for a decade "my sanctuary." It's also the family gathering spot: Daughter Nicole, 30, wed Joel Madden, 32, there in 2010. His kids Miles, 17, and Sofia, 13 (with ex-wife Diane), stay over whenever they want. "It's not a showpiece," says the Grammy winner, "but a place you live every day."
Yard work isn't Richie's only grounding force. "In every room on the first floor, I have slave shackles or a branding iron as a reminder that I stand on the shoulders of some amazing people," says the Tuskegee, Ala., native. Lately he's been even more in touch with his roots, thanks to his new country album Tuskegee
. Richie recorded duets of 13 of his hits with many of Nashville's biggest stars, such as Shania Twain
("Endless Love"), Tim McGraw
("Sail On") and Blake Shelton ("You Are"). "For me, country music is as [natural] as the air I breathe," says Richie. "I had the best time ever."
Makes sense for the self-proclaimed "big southern boy in Beverly Hills." Says Richie: "I'm more in awe of where I am than probably anybody who's come to visit."
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Lionel on his inspirations