Sunday September 9th 2001


This week was a good week for the British releases (and for the ladies), finally the debut
album of Beverlei Brown, the second album of Sandra St. Victor (Gemini - Both Sides)
and after some years a new album by Vaneese Thomas (Talk Me Down). And not to forget
a new album from Jamiroquai
Next week be prepared for new album by some male singers; Babyface, R&B singer
Richard Burton and Phil Perry.


Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and R&B Album Chart Sept 15


Beverlei Brown  -  Next to you

At last it's here! Originally launced in Japan earlier this year to coincide with a promotional
campaign there, the keenly anticicpated debut album by the Birmingham born songstres
Beverlei Brown has been making it's way back to the UK as an expensice import. But even an
exorbitant price tag didn't deter UK soul devotees from adding this scintillating album to their
CD collection. Finally, "Next To You" lands in the UK and Europe but differs greatly from
the version unleashed in the land of the Rising Sun. Repackaged, the album comes with three
additional songs - "Could be You", a stunning duet with US soul man and Dome label mate
Dennis Taylor, plus "In The Summertime" and "Tell Me". Brown, who in the past has sung
backgrounds for the likes of Simly Red and Chaka Khan, both looks and sounds like she was born
to be a soul diva. A statuesque Amazonian goddess blessed with a sensual, expessive voice,
Brown dominates her material with soulful authority. The opener, a commendable version of
Ivan Mathias's "Somebody Knows How You Feel" is pure class. "Part-time Lover" is a suberb
slice of mid-tempo balladry enhanced by Brown's coruscating vocal, while "Keep On Doing
(What I'm Doing") is propelled by a blissful head-nodding groove. Plaudits must also go to
Brown's team of producers who not only provide her with symphathetic groove-laden musical
backdrops but also manage to give the album a strong sense of cohesion. One of the year's
best soul albums!!!


Other news this week:

Wyclef Jean's father dies in freak accident

Reverend Gesner Jean, the father of producer-rapper Wyclef Jean, died in hospital Monday night
(September 4) from injuries sustained in a freak accident at the family's home in New Jersey. While
the details are still sketchy, police believe that after sitting in Wyclef's 1991 Bentley in the family
garage, the elder Jean suffered chest injuries when he was pinned to the garage wall by the vehicle
after stepping in front of it. Police are still investigating the incident, but initial reports suggest that
the vehicle was not malfunctioning and that there was no evidence of foul play. Reverend Jean, 60,
was a minister in a Newark, New Jersey, church. He is survived by his wife and four children.


Top Stars Cover Marvin Gaye For Charity

Some of the music industry's biggest stars, including Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync,
Destiny's Child, Christina Aguilera, and Alicia Keys, are participating in sessions for a new recording
of Marvin Gaye's 1971 crossover hit "What's Going On." The recording is being organized in New
York by producer Jermaine Dupri and U2 frontman Bono, and aims to raise money for AIDS research
in Africa.
No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, Ja Rule, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, Jagged Edge, and Radiohead are among
the other acts that have been tipped to contribute to the project, which will be released under the
moniker Artists Against AIDS Worldwide.
The recording hearkens back to USA for Africa's star-studded 1985 charity single "We Are the World,"
which raised millions for hunger relief in Africa. The track, produced by Quincy Jones and featuring
Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and Ray Charles, reached No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100. It won
the Grammy for song of the year in 1986.
Vocal tracks from Gaye are prominently featured on Erick Sermon's single "Music," which is No. 24
on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart this week.


Aaliyah Posthumously Tops Album Chart

In the wake of her tragic death, Aaliyah's self-titled Blackground/Virgin release shoots 19-1 on The
Billboard 200 this week, based on a sales jump from 62,000 to 306,000 units in the U.S., according to
SoundScan. The late artist's surge to No. 1 was predicated last week when retailers reported massive
sales gains following the Aug. 25 plane crash that took the life of Aaliyah and eight others.
Six weeks ago "Aaliyah" became the artist's first top-10 album when it entered The Billboard 200 at No.
2; it also debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, a position it returns to once
again this week.
Aaliyah's family plans to make its first major public statements about her death at the Back on The
Billboard 200, four new albums debut in the top-10, led by R&B diva Mary J. Blige's MCA set "No
More Drama" at No. 2. Although the bow matches the chart entry of her last release, 1999's "Mary,"
the new set's first week sales of 294,000 units is the best of Blige's career -- topping the 239,000 units
posted by "Mary." With strong sales in purely R&B markets, "No More Drama" debuts at No. 1 on the
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album's first single, "Family Affair," jumps 7-3 on Billboard's
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally and 18-12 on The Billboard Hot 100.
Brian McKnight's "Superhero" (Motown/Universal) opens at No. 7 on The Billboard 200 based on
150,000 units sold, the best of his career. His previous album, 1999's "Back At One," debuted at No. 7
on the strength of 145,000 units sold and went on to sell 2.3 million copies in the U.S. McKnight's
current single, "Love of My Life," scoots 25-22 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
Last week's top debut, Maxwell's "Now" (Columbia), falls 1-5, a the victim of a 43% sales decline to
170,000. The set continues to sell strongly in pure R&B markets, drifting 1-3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop
Albums tally.
Jennifer Lopez has the No. 1 single on the Hot 100 for a second straight week with "I'm Real" featuring
Ja Rule, once again besting Alicia Keys' "Fallin'," which holds at No. 2. Lopez's album "J. Lo" (Epic)
drops out of the top-10 on The Billboard 200, slipping 10-16.
The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at retail is Jagged Edge's "Where the Party At" featuring Nelly,
which skips 6-3. Despite the single's growing popularity, the group's Columbia album, "Jagged Little
Thrill," falls 24-34 on The Billboard 200. The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at radio is Michael
Jackson's "You Rock My World," which blasts 34-11 in its second week on the chart. Jackson's much
hyped, much delayed "Invincible" is set for an Oct. 30 release via Epic.


'Snowflakes' Fall For Toni Braxton

Grammy-winning songstress Toni Braxton is wrapping up work on her first Christmas album,
"Snowflakes," due Oct. 23 from Arista. The album is being produced by Braxton and her husband, Mint
Condition's Keri Lewis, who are also expecting a child before the end of the year.
"Snowflakes" will comprise half original compositions and half versions of classic yuletide songs such
as "The Christmas Song," "Santa Please," "Christmas Time is Here," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little
Christmas." The album is the first release for Braxton since her third studio album, "The Heat," which
debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 2 on The Billboard 200 in May 2000.
The set spawned the singles "Just Be a Man About It," "Spanish Guitar," and "He Wasn't Man Enough,"
which garnered Braxton a Grammy for best female R&B vocal performance. Braxton is also celebrating
the 10th anniversary of her entry into the music business, when she signed with LaFace Records, then
helmed by current Arista president/CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid. She made her recording debut with the
song "Give U My Heart" on the "Boomerang" soundtrack in 1992.

Mariah Carey suffers another emotional breakdown

Mariah Carey, who for the past month has been recovering from an emotional breakdown, has
reportedly suffered a relapse. The New York Daily News reports that the singer has been a patient
at UCLA Medical Center since Tuesday after suffering what a source called "an emotional setback."
A spokesperson for the artist issued a terse "no comment" to the paper when contacted. Carey
postponed her planned Sept. 12 interview with Barbara Walters for ABC's "20/20" news magazine
show, and the Daily News notes that she has also put off a Sept. 14 appearance on "The Tonight
Show With Jay Leno."
Carey was in California for several days, relaxing at the Santa Barbara resort Bacara. A source told
the paper that while she was there, Carey met with Virgin Records executives, "and apparently she
simply wasn't ready for that." The 31-year-old singer blamed her breakdown on exhaustion from
working on two movies - "Glitter," opening Sept. 21 in U.S. theaters, and "Wise Girls," due out next
year - as well as the Virgin soundtrack for "Glitter," which hits U.S. stores Sept. 11. As previously
reported, release of the album and the film were bumped while Carey underwent treatment at first
a Connecticut clinic, and then privately.


Stars Honor Michael Jackson In New York

Michael Jackson's 30-year career as solo artist has encompassed everything from the truly brilliant
to the utterly bizarre. The same could be said about his star-studded anniversary concert -- a surreal,
yet undeniably captivating evening.
Last night's (Sept. 7) concert -- the first of two shows at Madison Square Garden -- marked Jackson's
first performance on U.S. soil in more than a decade, during which time he's seen his once-dominant
presence on the American music scene decline. But if there was any doubt about Jackson's star power,
it was erased as a capacity crowd -- some of whom had paid up to $2,500 per ticket -- waited anxiously
for a glimpse of the King of Pop. Though the night's lineup included the likes of Britney Spears,
Destiny's Child, Ray Charles, and Liza Minnelli, it was Jackson who created the most frenzy, even
before uttering a single note.
When Jackson made his way to his seat, dressed in a white, glittery jacket with his favorite accessory -
Elizabeth Taylor - on his arm, he drew crazed screams and applause so intense it drowned out Samuel
L. Jackson as he introduced the night's first performance.
The concert kicked off with two of R&B's brightest young stars, Usher and Mya, singing Jackson's
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" in an extravagant, jungle-themed dance number. Though Usher has
modeled himself as Jackson's heir apparent, he lacked the latter's spark, while Mya's lightweight
voice could barely be heard over the music.
It wasn't until Whitney Houston burst on stage toward the end, her voice soaring above theirs, that
the song began to echo the original vitality in which Jackson sang it. By the time Houston finished,
the crowd was dazzled, giving what would be one of several standing ovations of the night.
But from that high, the concert crashed to a low as Marlon Brando took to the stage, his large frame
resting on a couch. Though the crowd cheered at just the sight of the Oscar-winning actor, they
soon became bewildered as Brando sent the next few minutes mumbling about child poverty, abuse,
and disease. "I saw kids in the last stages of starvation, and it was something you didn't want to see,"
he said.
It was also something the audience didn't want to hear, as boos began to drown Brando out until he
said Jackson was donating money to create a children's hospital in Florida. His exit drew another
standing ovation.
It was moments like these -- plus extended delays -- that would plague the three-hour-plus concert
until Jackson took the stage. For every truly entertaining moment -- Marc Anthony beautifully
crooning "She's Out of My Life," or Destiny's Child paying homage to Jackson with their fedora hats
and white gloves during "Bootylicious" -- there were truly cringe-inducing moments that made you
want to close your eyes until they were over.
One was Minnelli's rendition of Jackson's "You Are Not Alone." Although it may be one of Jackson's
more schmaltzy songs, the R. Kelly-penned tune was never meant to endure this kind of treatment,
as a frail-looking Minnelli warbled the No. 1 hit cabaret style, with a gospel choir behind her.
Other stars' talents were clearly misused. Al Jarreau was reduced to playing the Tin Man during
recreation of scene from "The Wiz," Jackson's only movie role; the performance from Ray Charles
and jazz singer Cassandra Wilson seemed out of place and out of sync, given the pop nature of the
show. Then there were the videotaped tributes to Jackson, which lauded him as the "greatest," the "
most sensitive," the "most successful" ad naseum.
But those moments were temporarily forgotten once Jackson appeared on the stage. Though the sight
of him was at times jarring -- his pale, surgically altered face seems incapable of showing much
expression anymore -- his presence was formidable.
First performing together with his brothers for the first time since their 1984 Victory tour, he dazzled
the audience with each shimmy or yelp. The highlight was the group's performance of "I'll Be There,"
which showcased Jackson's soulful interpretation of the classic. Even a cameo appearance by 'N
Sync during "Dancing Machine" couldn't upstage the electricity of just the brothers performing
Then it was time for Jackson to shine, alone. Anyone expecting Jackson to reinvent himself
artistically would be disappointed, however: The only new material from Jackson came as he
performed his new single, "You Rock My World," the first release from his upcoming Epic
album, "Invincible."
For his old hits, he trotted out familiar dance steps, some of which were over two-decades old,
performing songs like "Beat It" and "The Way You Make Me Feel," almost identically to the way
he had on video years ago. At times, it seemed as if even Jackson was tired of them, performing
them without the full-effort given in the past. Still, as dated as those moves may have seemed,
they were still enough to generate chills of excitement. A special highlight was "Billie Jean" -
for which Jackson dusted off his white trademark glove -- which showcased his freestyling,
pulsating footwork.
At 43 years of age and with more than three decades in the spotlight, Jackson's act may have gotten
a bit familiar, but never stale, with enough dazzle to get the most jaded Jackson critics out of their
seats. After Jackson's performance last night, another comeback doesn't seem out of reach.


News 2001