Sunday September 2nd 2001

This week some more details became known about the planecrash that killed
Aaliyah and last Friday the funeral took place.
Also this week new album releases from Mary J. Blige, Brian McKnight and
Kool & the Gang. Next week be ready for UK releases from Beverlei Brown,
Vaneese Thomas and Sandra St Victor.
For some new singles check the hot singles section.
New on this news page is a rundown of the Billboard R&B singles and albums.

Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and R&B Album Chart Sept 8


Brian McKnight - Superhero

Nine years in and Brian McKnight has not only kept his head above the
water, he's succeeded in surviving tide after tide of new artists
entering the R'n'B arena. Released in 1992, McKnight's self-titled debut
set warned of a new talent in town and, whilst he hasn't exactly hit the
prolific button since, he's remained a constant and steadily maturing
talent in all times between. 2001 and it's time for 'Superhero', a set
that benefits from hindsight and, thus is a distillation of McKnight's
previous success formula. Edgy and urban one moment, 'Superhero'
flips into Prince mode the next and there are guests as diverse as
NSYNC and Nate Dogg on board. Truly a man of the last decade of
R'n'B, McKnight shows that he'll also figure highly in the next.

Mary J.Blige - No more drama

The return of the Queen of Hip-hop Soul, and Mary J is now on studio
album number five. It's been a long journey since her 1992 debut,
'What's The 411?' (produced by then intern Sean Combs) but Ms Blige's
gaze has never flickered from the horizon and her destiny of presenting
only the most honest and most beautifully delivered music in the urban
sound industry. There are more guests on 'No More Drama' than she
usually employs although their sheer calibre outweighs their number.
Dre produces the track (and single) 'Family Affair' whilst Missy, the
Neptunes and Eve all take vocal and production duties. With her voice
now a mature and fully formed instrument of emotional conveyance,
Mary J Blige has never sounded better.


Other news this week:


R. Kelly: I believe I can sail!

R&B superstar R Kelly will travel to Europe for his first live shows in almost
six years on the massive cruise liner the QE2, dotmusic can exclusively reveal.
Kelly, who is in the midst of a media black-out in America, following the death
of his former wife Aaliyah, has an intense fear of flying and refuses to travel on
However, it has also emerged that his UK record company Jive were on the verge
of persuading Kelly to change the habits of a lifetime last year July, when he agreed
to fly on Concorde. Just days later, the seemingly invincible sound-barrier breaking
jet crashed just outside Paris, France, killing all on-board and has been out of service
ever since.A spokesman for Kelly today confirmed that he had agreed to make the
six-day journey on the 75,000 tonne vehicle, arriving at Southampton in time for the
Mobo Awards next month.
"He has always had a fear of flying," the spokesman explained. "In the US,
everything is done by tour bus. They have so much trouble with internal flights
in America. "It's a big thing amongst the urban artists. They hate using planes. So
he agreed to come on the QE2 and we're delighted"
The spokesman said Kelly was "deeply saddened" by the death of Aaliyah, whose
debut album 'Age Ain't Nothin' But A Number' he produced.


Fans and artists pay last respects to Aaliyah

Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Timbaland among mourners at New York funeral, while fans
congregate outside.
Even in the afterlife, Aaliyah remains the epitome of class and grace. Her white
casket was transported Friday morning (August 31) from Campbell Funeral Home
to St. Ignatius Church - where her funeral was held - in a white carriage pulled by
two white horses. Dozens of white and pink roses lay on the top of the carriage.
Herboyfriend, Damon Dash, and one of her "Romeo Must Die" co-stars, Delroy
Lindo, were among the loved ones who walked the streets behind the carriage en
route to the private service.
Fans converged at the funeral home as early as 6:30 a.m. to pay their respects
to the singer and actress, who was killed in a plane crash with eight others six
days earlier in the Bahamas They wrote messages in the home's condolence
books and followed the procession. Police estimated 1,000 fans were there.
When the procession reached the church, where Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes,
and Timbaland were among the mourners, they were greeted by more fans.
As Aaliyah's funeral left the church, 22 white doves were released - one for
each of her 22 years.
In Midtown, meanwhile, at the restaurant Cipriani's, fans poured in for an all-
day public memorial service. They left flowers, teddy bears and cards. And
they prayed, and reminisced by watching highlights of Aaliyah's career on two
giant screens, singing along to songs such as "Are You That Somebody?," "One
in a Million" and "Try Again".Cipriani's was flooded with white ribbons, bouquets,
and candles. A shrine to Aaliyah was the centerpiece: Between the video screens
was a photograph of the woman her friend and collaborator Timbaland fondly
called "Baby Girl." She looked elegant in an aqua gown. At the bottom of the
picture, an inscription read:

Aaliyah Dana Haughton
January 16 1979-August 25, 2001
We Were Given a Queen
We Were Given an Angel


Aaliyah's Album Sales Up 41 Percent

In other Aaliyah news, the R&B singer's album sales have risen 41 percent since
her death. SoundScan says that her latest album "Aaliyah" sold 62,00 copies for
the week ending August 26th, up from 44,000 copies a week earlier. Currently her
album has sold 509,000 copies since its July 10th release.


R&B Singer's Death and Many Tributes Force Website's Early Release

The Right Frequency announces its official release 6 weeks earlier than
scheduled. Due to the high demand of music fans searching for news
and details about the R&B singer and actress Aaliyah, the company has
pushed up its official release date.
A special section is dedicated to Aaliyah with current headlines, news
of tributes, retrospectives and details on memorials for the singer. It took
little time for the headlines to get added and fans are finding new additions
throughout the day.
The concept was forged from the need to bring current and relevant music
news, reviews and interviews to fans in one central location. Most major
music genres are covered ranging from indie to rock and country to pop.
The barrage of music portals, e-zines and other online publications covering
music has given consumers more choices, but less time to search them out.
The Right Frequency allows fans the chance to find 'buried music treasure'
that would otherwise take them hours to locate on their own if at all!
Currently there are over 200 different music-related sources linked. Sources
include international newspapers, retail sites, entertainment portals,
alternative weeklies, e-zines (such as, and
online college publications. There are plans to add a subscription service
this fall for troves of hard-to-find artist archives.
On the web:
Aaliyah section:

Aaliyah Will Be Seen And Not Heard In 'Queen Of The Damned'

Fallen actress-singer Aaliyah died before she could record the dialogue for
her upcoming vampire film Queen Of The Damned. As a result, the movie will
not feature the late 22-year-old star's own speaking voice. To play the title role
of a centuries-old vampire queen, Aaliyah was scheduled to study an Egyptian
accent with a dialogue coach. Her training was to begin in Los Angelos on
August 26--the day after her plane went down in the Bahamas, notes the New
York Post.

Now' Is The Time For Maxwell At No. 1

Maxwell bursts onto The Billboard 200 this week with "Now" (Columbia),
after selling 296,000 units in the U.S., according to SoundScan, to earn his
first-ever No. 1 album. The R&B singer's collection is one of two new albums
to enter the top-10 this week, besting rapper Juvenile's "Project English" (Cash
Money/Universal), which arrives No. 2 on the strength of 213,000 units sold.
"Now" and "Project English" open back-to-back on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-
Hop Albums as well.
"Now" gives Maxwell his strongest one-week numbers, cruising by the 149,000
copies posted by his previous set, "Embrya." That 1998 album debuted at No. 3
on The Billboard 200 and went on to sell 1.04 million units. Industry observers
foretold the mighty debut by Maxwell last week when the set appeared at No. 90
on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart due to street date violations.
His current single, "Lifetime," slides 29-20 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop
Singles & Tracks tally, and makes its debut at No. 72 on The Billboard Hot 100.

Eric Benet Wants To Make New Album 'Better And Better'

Neo-soul singer Eric Benet was scheduled to release Better And Better, the
follow-up to his 1999 gold-certified release A Day In The Life, in October, but
the new album has been rescheduled for an early 2002 date.
Benet has been working on the album for more than a year, and feels that some
of the songs he recorded early on sound stale. He said that he wanted to make
the album better: "So, now I'm at the point in the album where it is finished, but
over these next couple weeks, I might just go back in the studio and just write one
or two more songs, just to inject a little bit of freshness in it for me."


Tamia and Grant Hill expecting a child

Basketball star Grant Hill and his wife, R&B songstress Tamia, have announced
that they're having a baby. Hill and Tamia, who wed two years ago, said last
week (August 27) that she's due to give birth in January. It will be the first child
for the couple. Tamia's latest album, A Nu Day, was certified gold for sales of
500,000 copies in June. Hill and Tamia are expecting their child shortly after R&B
diva Toni Braxton - who recently married Mint Condition keyboardist Keri Lewis
in Atlanta - is due to give birth. Lewis and Braxton are expecting their first child,
a boy, on Christmas Day (December 25).

"Can Heaven Wait" Is Luther Vandross's next single

The next single from Luther Vandross's self-titled album will be "Can Heaven
Wait." The accompanying video will feature NYPD Blue star Garcelle Beauvais,
who also starred in "Take Me Out," the first video from Luther Vandross. The
album, which came out June 19, has sold more than 800,000 copies to date and
has already been certified gold.
Vandross plans to tour in support of the album beginning this fall. As the singer
tells LAUNCH, every time he takes the stage he wants to exceed people's expectations:
"I always like it when an audience member can sit there and say, 'I don't know what it
is, but when you come to a Luther show, you just get more,' or something. You know,
I like that. You feel taken care of as an audience member, like they're not gonna try
to slip something past so they can make a quick buck: 'You know, he actually went
through a lot of preparation to present this.' You know, I like when that's apparent."


News 2001