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Dressed in all black with his signature cross around his neck, Lionel looks dapper and a lot younger than his 62 years on the TV special. That may just be thanks to Nicole, Miles and Sofia. "My kids have taught me that I'll never master 'hip' in my whole life," the singer-songwriter tells The Boot with a laugh. "Your kids can say some cruel things to you at times. For example, Nicole, Miles and Sofie are standing there in the room and I'm dressed to kill in my own mind. They'll say to me, 'Dad, you're not going out there looking like that are you?' If that doesn't kill a star, I don't know what does!
"I'm at their mercy now," Lionel continues. "Kids will keep it real. If I've ever had in my life a great anchor, it's them. They get in your head, 'don't get too famous.' If you think you're really famous and think you're really hip, go hang out with your kids for an afternoon. That's about as earthbound as it's going to get. I find myself going out on the road to get my confidence back, because I lose it at home. [laughs] At home, my name is Dad. 'Dad, you promised!' Or [my grandchildren saying], 'Pop Pop! Chase me, Pop Pop!'"
But Lionel has his fans and friends to remind him just how famous -- and influential -- he is. He explains that his duet partners on Tuskegee just laughed at him when he offered lyric sheets during the recording sessions. They all, of course, knew the songs by heart. The Alabama native's timeless catalog of music has provided the soundtrack for theirs and millions of other lives, crossing all demographics.
"The best compliment that has ever been given to me was, I was at the airport one day and a guy came in and said, 'Lionel, my wife loves you, the kids love you, my mother-in-law loves you, the family loves you,'" Lionel recalls. "Not knowing at the time that 'Easy Like Sunday Morning' was going to be a timeless piece ... 'All Night Long' is going to be 'All Night Long' forever, and 'Still' and 'Three Times a Lady' ... I happen to find subjects that are timeless. It doesn't matter when it comes out. I had a guy who said, 'My mother and father were married to 'Endless Love' and I got married on 'Endless Love.' Did I do it consciously? No. It was just divine guidance."
Read more of our conversation with Lionel about Tuskegee and his new country music friends featured on the album here. And tune in to CBS tonight (April 13) at 9:00 PM ET to watch Lionel perform several of his classic hits as country duets with the likes of Tim McGraw, Kenny Rogers, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and more.