Sunday July 20th, 2003


New CD's this past week:

- The Tony Rich Project - Resurrected


Music news stories this week:

Ashanti Edges Out Beyonce In Billboard's Dueling Divas Face-Off

For the second week in a row, R&B vixens Ashanti and Beyoncé will gallop
neck and neck to a photo finish on the Billboard albums chart, and once
again, Ashanti will edge her out.
On next week's chart, the Murder Inc. chanteuse's Chapter II will be
listed as having sold 135,000 copies, besting the Destiny's Child
singer's Dangerously in Love by fewer than 4,000 copies, according to
SoundScan figures released Wednesday (July 16). This narrows the gap
from last week, when Ashanti beat Beyoncé by about 10,000.
Almost all of last week's top 10 artists will remain near the top of the
chart, though half will shift positions.
Diaphanous metal quartet Evanescence will climb four places to #3,
matching their highest position since the March release of their debut,
Fallen. The group sold just over 72,000 records last week, an increase
of more than 3,000 from the week before. An appearance on "The Tonight
Show With Jay Leno" and the band's second single, "Going Under,"
impacting at radio could account for the sales jump.
Luther Vandross' new album, Dance With My Father, will dip one slot to
#4 with 68,000 in sales, a numeric decrease of more than 33,000. 50
Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' hangs in at #5, but drops almost 10,000 in
sales to 66,000, echoing the continuing chartwide sales decline.
The bottom half of the top 10 starts with Michelle Branch, whose second
record, Hotel Paper, falls two more positions to #6 with sales of over
64,000. Metallica's St. Anger slips one spot to #7 and drops almost
9,000 in sales to 62,000 despite the successful launch of their Summer
Sanitarium Tour.
The final three top positions will be filled by Norah Jones, whose Come
Away With Me sold more than 61,000, bringing her total past the 6.5
million mark; Trace Adkins, whose Vol. 1 Greatest Hits will debut at #9;
and Cher, whose Very Best of Cher will climb eight positions to re-enter
the top 10, largely because of her farewell tour, which goes on and on
and on ...

The second-biggest debut on the chart is by Mexican actor and singer
Thalia, who married former Sony Music head Tommy Mottola in 2000. Her
self-titled album will enter at #11.
The Ataris will take a huge leap up the charts. Their fifth album, So
Long, Astoria, will climb 23 positions to #79 thanks to the success of
their punked-up cover of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer." Celine
Dion's One Heart will vault 16 positions to #28. And Black Eyed Peas'
second disc, Elephunk, will climb seven places to #34.
One of the biggest chart slides will again go to Three 6 Mafia's Da
Unbreakables, which will drop 11 slots to #21. Another hip-hop act, Gang
Starr, will face a similar fate with their new disc, Ownerz, which will
plummet 22 notches to #62.

Floetry, Erykah Badu Lead Pack Of Lady Of Soul Nominees

Neo-soul duo Floetry have certainly made an impact on American R&B
audiences despite the fact the two ladies were born in England. Floetry
earned top honors when the 9th annual Lady of Soul Awards nominations
were announced Thursday in Los Angeles.
The pair led the pack with four nominations, including a nod for
R&B/Soul Album of the Year for their debut effort, Floetic, and R&B/Soul
Single of the Year for "Say Yes."
Erykah Badu, a past winner at the Lady of Soul Awards, was nominated
three times for her single "Love of My Life," the soft-spoken song from
the "Brown Sugar" soundtrack. And there's one award Badu will definitely
win this year: the honorary achievement Aretha Franklin Award for
Entertainer of the Year.
Other nominees for this year's Awards include Missy "Misdemeanor"
Elliott, Heather Headley, Vivian Green, 702 and TLC.
The Lady of Soul Awards will be broadcast live from Pasadena,
California, on August 23. Arsenio Hall, Aisha Tyler, Tyrese and Heather
Headley will host.

Kelly Rowland In Talks To Play Megastar In Romantic Comedy

What's it take to sit next to Kelly Rowland at an A-list event?
Apparently, just a lowly job filling seats.
Kelly is in final negotiations to star in the romantic comedy "Seat
Filler," according to her manager, as a megastar who falls in love with
a seat filler at an awards ceremony after mistaking him for a powerful
If she signs on for the role, the Destiny's Child singer will star
opposite Duane Martin ("Scream 2," "Any Given Sunday"), who'll play a
struggling law student working as a seat filler to pay the rent.
The actor co-wrote "Seat Filler" with his wife, Tisha Campbell Martin,
and Mark Brown. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have invested in the
movie and are also the executive producers of "All of Us," a UPN pilot
starring Martin and based loosely on the Hollywood power couple's own
married life.
The independently financed "Seat Filler" is scheduled to start shooting
Saturday in Los Angeles, with Nick Castle ("The Last Starfighter,"
"Major Payne") directing.
Rowland, whose first solo album hit shelves last fall, will make her
acting debut in next month's horror-franchise showdown "Freddy vs.

Macy Gray Releases 'the Trouble With Being Myself' 

Macy Gray released her new album The Trouble With Being Myself on
Tuesday (July 15th). The set was originally due out worldwide in May,
but only the international version was released at that time. Gray's
label, Epic Records, never explained why it held off releasing the album
here at home. Gray began promoting the album in mid-spring with a brief
U.S. tour.
Macy Gray sold more than 3.3 million copies of her 1999 debut On How
Life Is, but her second album, 2001's The Id -- which was released in
the days following the September 11th attacks -- managed to move only
585,000 units. Gray tells the Miami Herald that The Id's disappointing
sales tally taught her an important lesson in humility. "It's just
humbling, when things change, and you have to deal with it. I definitely
had crazy days, and times where I was just buggin' out, and I definitely
had to grow up," says Gray.
"When I See You" was the first track released from The Trouble With
Being Myself. It peaked at Number 21 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart
in March.
Gray will be making several television appearances this week to promote
the release of her new album. The singer performs on ABC-TV's Good
Morning America on Tuesday. Then on Friday, the 32-year-old singer
performs on The Wayne Brady Show and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Usher Ready To Save R&B With Next Album

Living up to the name "Mr. Entertainment" means being able to shake your
thing from the window to the wall and hold it down on the set of a movie
- among other things. While Usher has triumphed in many aspects of
showmanship, he doesn't want people to forget why they started feeling
him in the first place: his singing.
"[With] this one, I just really wanted to be about my vocal ability,"
Usher explained, enlightening a room full of reporters after his
performance at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans last weekend.
"I wanted to make real music. I feel like soul music, R&B music is
somewhat in jeopardy. It's in trouble right now. If I can make a
contribution to R&B, then that's what I'll do."
The originator of the "U-Turn" dance said Jermaine Dupri, the Neptunes
and Babyface are among the producers he plans to work with. Usher has
already recorded in Atlanta with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as
Andre Harris and Vidal Davis (Michael Jackson). The 24-year-old wants to
take his song-making back to the essence.
"If you go back to what R&B is, or what soul really is, I think the work
ethic is way down," he huffed, calling out some of his fellow artists.
"You look at the videos, you see women shaking their ass, you see the
cars, you see the 22s. It's really marketing, if anything. It's not real
music; that sh-- don't make me move. I'm trying to get back to that. I
wanna get back to where it's really about the performance.
"Where I come from and how I was raised was to really understand music,"
he added. "It's past just a hit record - it's about the performance. You
gotta find a way to get it, so I'm gonna do that with my album and
hopefully set the trend and continue to keep it going."
The heartthrob who does it all estimated that the first single from his
still-untitled album will be out October 13, with the LP following
November 18.

Judge Allows R. Kelly To Leave State For Tour

Over protests from prosecutors, a Chicago judge has granted R. Kelly
permission to leave Illinois for a five-city tour in August.
The R&B singer - free on bond after being indicted on child pornography
charges last June and apparently suffering little if any damage from the
accusations - appeared before Judge Vincent Gaughan on Monday (July 14)
to present a proposed itinerary that would take him to the
Oakland-Alameda County Arena in Oakland, California, on August 15; the
Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California, on August 16; the MCI
Center in Washington, D.C., on August 22; Madison Square Garden in New
York on August 23; and the Philips Arena in Atlanta on August 28.
Kelly is also on the bill for the Detroit Music Festival at Comerica
Park on August 1, along with the Isley Brothers, the Gap Band and Nas.
However, a representative for the state attorney's office in Cook County
said he couldn't find a request for Kelly to travel to Detroit amongst
the singer's previous travel requests.
While Kelly gets a slight break from his legal woes while working up
crowds, prosecutors continue to review expert witness reports for the
final phase of discovery for the impending trial. Kelly is due back in
court September 26.


News 2003

News 2002

News 2001