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Lionel Richie On Being Nelson Mandela’s Stylist
March 19, 2012
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OK, so there's the Lionel we all know and love -- crooner, songwriter, dynamic performer -- and then there's the Lionel you might be surprised to learn about. Specifically, Lionel went on a special assignment in 1990: personal wardrobe stylist for Nelson Mandela. Mandela was just being released from prison at the time, and getting ready to make his first public appearance -- with some tragically dated clothes. In this clip, Lionel talks about getting the gig, and learning that his songs were being heard and appreciated in some pretty surprising places.

Lionel's on the program tonight, along with director Joe Cornish.

In this clip, Lionel talks about:

An amazing moment in history
"In life, things happen where you are just standing at the door of history. We get the phone call -- Nelson's been let out of jail. He's free. He's coming to America. Mandela cannot fly on Delta. Or American. Everybody mobilize. Who's in charge of how he flies? You got the planes. Housing? Where's he gonna stay? You got the housing. Clothing? Remember, he's gonna come straight out of prison and he's gotta go on Ted Koppel. He's gotta do Nightline. The Today Show. So, Lionel -- here's his suit size, pants size, shirt size -- you got it."

Losing it while talking to Mandela
"There's a room full of people who want to meet him, and he spots me. And he walks over, and he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, 'Young man, I want to thank you so much for writing the music and lyrics that you wrote, because it got me through many days of being in prison.' And I started crying on his shoulder. He just grabbed me like a dad. And I lost it."

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