Sunday August 17th, 2003
New CD's this past week:
- Ann Nesby - Make me better
Music news stories this week:
Toni Braxton Reveals All For VH1
While Toni Braxton was thrilled when she
found out she was pregnant with
her second child in 2002 -- her record company, Arista, wasn't quite so
excited. Company executives were concerned that her pregnancy would
prevent her from being able to do the extensive promotional work they'd
mapped out to coincide with the release of her much-anticipated fifth
album, More than a Woman. Those fears turned into facts as Toni had an
extremely difficult pregnancy and was ultimately ordered to stay in bed
for months. Now, VH1 will document her recent struggles on "(inside)out:
Toni Braxton-Family Comes First" premiering on Sunday, August 17th at 10
"(inside)out" is a new documentary series that captures an artist or
celebrity as they face personal or professional crossroads. On Sunday
night, the show will feature an intimate look at Toni as she juggles
life as a mother and an entertainer. In the course of the show, she'll
allow the cameras to document her private moments -- from the delivery
room for the birth of her second son, Diezel, to her return to the
Broadway musical "Aida."
Ready For The World Is Ready Again With New Single And Upcoming CD
New jack band Ready For The World is back
in action. The group that made
a mark with the Number One R&B 1985 dance floor hit "Oh Sheila" and the
sensual 1986 ballad "Let Me Love You Down" has reunited to record and
promote a new single, "Black-N-Mild." The band is currently completing
work on a full-length CD, expected to be released in October on
California-based Stoney Burke Recordings.
Ready For The World still features the same lineup, which includes lead
singer Melvin Riley along with John Eaton on bass, Greg Potts on
keyboards, Gordon Strozier on lead guitar, Willie Triplett, Jr. on
percussion, and Gerald Valentine on drums. Signed to MCA, Ready For The
World was rare in that it was one of the few new jack acts to actually
play all their own instruments.
Known as much for their funky clothes and wild '80s hairstyles, the
members of Ready For The World prided themselves on their musicianship,
blending rock and funk with soul. Member Willie Triplett says that the
new CD will reflect current R&B trends. He says, "We're staying with the
times at least. I think we were pretty much in a class by ourselves in
the beginning because there were not a lot of bands out at the time. At
the present, we're making sure the music is up to date, and lyric-wise,
we're on the mark."
The veteran band performed in June at Cleveland's Rock And Roll Hall Of
Fame and is lining up tour dates for the fall.
Until a new CD is released, fans can pick up 20th Century Masters: The
Millennium Collection/ The Best Of Ready For The World, which was
released in January on Universal. The set features 14 tracks by the
band, and includes Riley's 1994 solo song "Whose Is It."
Alicia Keys Recruits Nas & Rakim For New Album
Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter
Alicia Keys is presently working
on as-of-yet untitled second album, which is tentatively scheduled to be
released on November18th. Fans can watch the singer at work on the
project via a web cam at Keys' website, aliciakeys.com.
Recently Keys explained to MTV.com that the new album wouldn't be just a
collection of songs. She explained, "It's a very conceptual album goin'
on. It's really personal. It's kind of a journey inside, into my mind,
into everything that's going on in the world and how that affects us as
The new CD will feature the production of Easy Moe Bee, Dwayne Wiggins,
and Keys' Krucial Keys production team. In addition, the set will
feature a historic pairing of Rakim and Nas according to MTV.com. The
two rappers have never appeared on the same track. Keys' and Nas
previously collaborated on the song "Warrior's Song" from Nas' God's Son
When we spoke to Nas prior to recording the new song with Rakim and
Keys, the rapper said he took collaborations very seriously: "It's
banging, because big hits are made by collaborations. It's like, I'm a
fan of the music. I'm a fan of not just hip-hop, but all kinds of music.
So when I team up with a guy or a female entertainer, I'm more into that
person and it's just a big thing to me."
Keys released her multi-platinum, Grammy-winning debut set, Songs In A
Minor, in 2001.
Mary J. Blige To Release Limited Edition Dvd
The first 500,000 fans of R&B singer
Mary J. Blige to buy the singer's
upcoming set, Love & Life, will receive a free 42-minute DVD. The
production will include footage of Blige celebrating Thanksgiving,
partying on New Year's Eve, and spending her birthday in the recording
studio, according to Billboard.com. In addition, the DVD will give fans
a chance to see Blige working with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.
Love & Life is the first set Combs and Blige have worked on together
since 1994's My Life. The album, which is slated for release on August
26th, includes collaborations with Jay-Z, Method Man, Eve, and 50 Cent.
The first single from the set, "Love @ Ist Sight," is presently Number
Eight on the urban Radio & Records National Airplay charts.
Bobby Brown A Wanted Man Again
Citing a failure to complete any of the
conditions of his probation from
a drunk-driving conviction, a judge in Georgia's DeKalb County has
issued a misdemeanor arrest warrant for troubled singer Bobby Brown.
Brown, who potentially faces jail time for the alleged violations, has
not been heard from or seen by deputies since the warrant was issued
nearly a month ago, according to a DeKalb County sheriff's office
The R&B singer has failed to complete the conditions of his probation
from the April 1996 arrest, which included participation in a
risk-reduction program, completion of 240 hours of community service,
six months of twice-weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and an order to
submit to random alcohol and drug screenings, the spokesperson said.
Deputies have been unable to locate Brown since the warrant was issued
on July 17, despite looking for him at his Atlanta-area home and several
other locations in the area.
Though it is up to the judge to decide, it is possible that such
violations could result in jail time.
A spokesperson for Brown could not be reached by press time.
This is the second time this year that a warrant has been issued for
Brown's arrest. A bench warrant was issued in January after the singer
attended the American Music Awards in Los Angeles instead of a court
appointment in DeKalb County, where he was awaiting trial for the 1996
arrest. During that incident, police stopped Brown for driving his red
Mercedes erratically and he was charged with driving under the
influence, speeding, failing to maintain a lane and having no proof of
In January, Brown's lawyer, Xavier Dicks, said his client's failure to
appear stemmed from a scheduling conflict, since Brown had requested
that the judge reconsider allowing him to travel to California for the
awards show. "It'd be like asking a football player not to play the
Super Bowl," Dicks said. Brown was later sentenced to eight days in jail
after turning himself in to authorities.
Brown was arrested in Atlanta on November 7 of last year on charges of
marijuana possession, speeding and having no driver's license or proof
of insurance (see "Bobby Brown Arrested For Drug Possession, Speeding").
It was at that point that authorities realized the older case had fallen
through the cracks when Brown failed to show for his original court date
The singer has not been entirely out of the public eye. He and wife
Whitney Houston made a well-publicized visit to Israel in May for a
spiritual retreat with the Black Hebrews sect, during which she was
considering recording songs for a Christmas album.
Toni Braxton Celebrates Return To The
Stage, Looks To First LP For
It wasn't exactly what you might have
expected from Toni Braxton's
return to the stage. Instead of hitting an arena to roll out her catalog
of hits to an audience of thousands, Braxton returned to Broadway last
month to tackle the title role of the award-winning musical "Aida."
"I feel relieved," Braxton said, her opening-night performance freshly
behind her. One hand holding her husband's and the other trying to keep
her long dress from touching the grimy streets, Braxton entered the
Laura Belle restaurant to celebrate her return to the Great White Way.
"I loved it. I haven't worked [onstage] in five years - I've been
pregnant for two - so it feels good to be back out there."
Braxton, no stranger to Broadway, began her live theatrical career in
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" in 1998. And through November of this
year, she's playing the role of a Nubian princess forced into slavery
and trapped in a love triangle in Elton John and Tim Rice's "Aida".
"I'm more comfortable performing," she said. "But the acting is a little
more challenging for me. Doing 'Beauty and the Beast' helped me exercise
that muscle, so I'm a little more comfortable than I was the first
With a high-profile Broadway run and her second child - Diezel Ky
Braxton Lewis, born in March - it might seem like her recording career
is on the back burner. But Braxton is marching ahead, and plans to have
a new album in stores in December. The album will be her first since
parting ways with her longtime label, Arista Records, and inking a new
deal with Blackground Entertainment.
"It was just time to move on," she said. "It was just time."
Although Braxton's era with Arista was thick with hits, her move to
Blackground was not a huge jump. For the past several years, Aaliyah's
uncle/Blackground CEO Barry Hankerson managed Braxton's musical career,
the singer's publicist said.
"It's going to be more like the first album," Braxton said of her first
Blackground release. Braxton's 1993 self-titled debut LP sold 10 million