Sunday March 26th, 2006
New CD's this past week:
- Prince - 3121
- Urban mystic - Ghetto revelations II
Music news headlines this week:
Anthony Hamilton Maps Out US Tour
The Charlotte, NC, native will kick off his tour close to home April 6 in
Richmond, VA. Hamilton's outing will canvas the South before moving on to
West Coast engagements and then ultimately swinging east again.
Fellow R&B artists Van Hunt (tickets | music) and Heather Headley (tickets
| music) will support Hamilton on his trek. Hunt's second album, "On the
Jungle Floor," is set for an April 4 release. The Trinidadian Headley's
sophomore set, "In My Mind," hit stores in January.
"Ain't Nobody Worryin'," released last December, is the fifth studio
release for Hamilton, who spent years writing songs and performing backup
vocals for other artists, including 2Pac and D'Angelo, as he awaited his
own break. The singer worked with a plethora of big name producers on the
album, including Mark Batson (Seal, Beyonce).
Hamilton's latest effort follows last year's "Soulife," and his
Grammy-nominated 2003 breakthrough album, "Comin' From Where I'm From."
"I didn't approach the new record with the intention of outdoing the last
album," Hamilton said in his online bio. "I wanted it to have the same
amount of quality, putting raw emotions and experiences to music,
re-living as much as possible what I've been through in the past few years
of being out there, being on the road."
Angela Bofill Recovering With Help From Friends
Vocalist Angela Bofill continues to recover from the stroke she suffered
in January. The "Angel Of The Night" singer has been released from a third
hospital and is currently living with her daughter, Shauna Bofill, in
Vallejo, California, according to TastyClips.com. The stroke has left her
with some paralysis on her left side, and medical bills continue to mount
for Bofill, who did not have health insurance.
At the time of her stroke, Bofill had been planning to head East to record
a new album. Now she is releasing the concert album, Live In Manila, to
help raise more money toward her care. The recording, available at
liveatnite.com and later at angelabofill.com, documents a 2004 show in the
More than $28,000 was raised for Bofill at a March 11th benefit concert at
Englewood, New Jersey's Bergen Performance Arts Center. Performers
included Melba Moore, Phil Perry, Bobbi Humphrey, The Escorts and others,
and Bofill spoke to the audience briefly by phone to thank them for their
Broadcaster and performer Alexander Zonjic, a longtime friend, is also
reportedly spearheading a benefit show in Detroit this summer.
Bobby Brown And New Edition To Reunite For A Night
Bobby Brown and New Edition are getting back together -- at least for one
Brown and the rest of the old-school boy band are scheduled to perform
together at the Essence Music Festival, which will be held July 1-3 in
Houston. Other performers announced include Diddy, who will host a "Diddy
and Friends" show, and singers Jaheim and Chris Brown.
Brown left the group, best known for hits like "Mr. Telephone Man" and
"Cool It Now," back in the 1980s for his solo career, and since then has
only performed with the group sporadically.
Other performers already slated for the festival include Mary J. Blige,
Steve Harvey, LL Cool J, Earth, Wind & Fire, Yolanda Adams and Maze
featuring Frankie Beverly.
The Essence Music Festival originated in 1995 in New Orleans and became an
annual event, held at the Superdome. But with the Superdome badly damaged
from Hurricane Katrina and much of the city's black population scattered
due to the catastrophe, Essence -- the magazine geared toward black women
-- decided to temporarily move the festival to Houston.
Oscar-winner and hitmaker Jamie Foxx also has been tapped to participate
in the festival's "Now or Never" empowerment seminars, along with Magic
Johnson and actor Shemar Moore. This year's seminars will focus on helping
those devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Smokey Robinson Pledges 'Timeless Love'
Motown legend Smokey Robinson delves into the Great American Songbook on
"Timeless Love," an album of standards due June 13 via Universal's New
Door imprint. It is Robinson's first non-gospel or holiday album since
1999's "Intimate," which debuted at No. 28 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop
The new set features renditions of such favorites as "I've Got You Under
My Skin," "Tea for Two," "Love Is Here To Stay," "Speak Low," "Fly Me to
the Moon (In Other Words)," "Moody's Mood for Love" and a blend of Sammy
Cahn and Jule Styne's "Time After Time" with Cyndi Lauper's pop hit of the
Robinson has a handful of dates on his schedule for this summer, beginning
April 20 in Rama, Ontario.
Def Jam Freezing Out iTunes
Did the label boost Ne-Yo, Rihanna CDs by resisting advance singles?
In a move that surprised the record industry, Island Def Jam withheld R&B
crooner Ne-Yo's massive radio hit "So Sick" from iTunes, and all other
digital services, until his debut CD came out last month. The strategy --
which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that releasing a single
online before an album comes out boosts sales -- seems to have paid off
big: According to Nielsen SoundScan, the singer sold 301,000 copies of In
My Own Words in its first week, making it the year's biggest debut. And,
as a bonus, Ne-Yo moved 120,000 copies of "So Sick" online.
Ne-Yo's chart-crushing success is already changing the way labels look at
the iTunes singles market. In the weeks after his debut, new songs by
artists including T.I., Shakira and Rihanna were also withheld.
"Everybody's going to do it because they saw that it worked," says Tina
Davis, manager of hit R&B singer Chris Brown and a former Def Jam
executive who signed Ne-Yo in 2004."Everybody's trying to find a new
Island Def Jam's move cuts to the heart of a music-industry debate: Do
advance singles create buzz, or do they cannibalize CD sales? Brown
released his hit radio single "Run It!" online more than three months
before his album came out in 2005, selling more than 300,000 downloads.
But when his album hit shelves, it sold just 154,000 copies in its first
week -- about half of Ne-Yo's numbers. (Competitors point out that some
major CD outlets sold In My Own Words for $7.98.)
The downside of withholding hot tracks from iTunes is that many music fans
who can't find the music will simply download it illegally for free. "It's
so incredibly backwards it's kind of mind-boggling," says Tim Quirk,
executive editor of online music store Rhapsody.com, which, like iTunes,
didn't carry "So Sick." "The track is still available online. You're just
not getting any compensation for it."
Island Def Jam executives did not comment for this story, but they've
expressed concern about how advance single sales will reduce consumers'
desire to buy whole albums, and have also said that they would consider
whether or not to release singles to iTunes on a case-by-case basis. The
label's pop-R&B star Rihanna, who was signed by Def Jam president Jay-Z,
is following in her labelmate's footsteps by sending her Soft
Cell-sampling tune "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)" exclusively to traditional radio
stations before her CD comes out later this year.
Other labels are testing the strategy too. Atlantic Records artist T.I.'s
"King" and Epic artist Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" are only available as
ring tones (through Sprint and Verizon, respectively). Ring tones have the
advantage of being potentially more lucrative, at around $2.99 a pop,
without giving the customer the entire song -- and they're incredibly
popular. "On T.I.'s last album, he sold over 3 million ring tones," says
Atlantic Records president Julie Greenwald. "When we sat down to discuss
the strategy of rolling T.I. out, we said, 'Let's go out and talk to some
cellular ring-tone partners.' "
So does Chris Brown's manager wish she had withheld the single? "It might
be smart for me to do that the next time," Davis says of Brown's
forthcoming album, which is scheduled for early 2007, "so I can have that
impact the first week."