Sunday January 4th, 2004


New CD's this past week:

None to report


Music news stories this week:

Soul, Funk Stars Announced For July Essence Fest In New Orleans

R&B legends Gladys Knight and the O'Jays are two of the many superstar acts who
have been scheduled to appear at the 10th annual Essence Music Festival in New
Orleans, on July 2nd through 4th. The multi-cultural celebration of music and arts
is the nation's largest annual African-American event. It includes more that 50
nightly acts at the New Orleans Superdome, and free daily seminars, featuring
authors and national leaders in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Other artists confirmed to appear at the festival include soul superstars Millie Jackson
and Freddie Jackson, Kenny Lattimore and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, funk
groups the Ohio Players and the Dazz Band, and modern hip-hop and R&B stars
Missy Elliot and Mary J. Blige.


Beyonce Says She Jams To Music From The 1970s

Beyonce Knowles, who's enjoying the success of her debut album, Dangerously in
Love, will be busy after the New Year. Not only is she working on her second solo
project, the singer is leading the pack of Grammy nominees with six nominations
including record of the year for "Crazy In Love" featuring Jay-Z. You can probably
guess where the singer gets some of her inspiration from after finding out what she
listens to when she's not busy writing songs. Knowles told us that she loves music
from the 1970s: "Actually, I listen...only thing I listen to is '70s music. I love Aretha
Franklin. You can hear that in the single 'Work It Out.' James Brown. I love Donny
Hathaway. Stevie Wonder. Those are a few. Oh. Of course Marvin Gaye. Minnie
Riperton, a lot of people."
The 46th Annual Grammy Awards will be held February 8th at the Staples Center in
Los Angeles, and will be broadcast live on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. ET.


Usher To Release "Confessions" In March

Grammy award-winning R&B singer Usher will release his new album,
Confessions, on March 16th. The set will feature the production of the
Neptunes, Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Rich Harrison, and R.
Usher explained his choice of producers for the new set to The
singer said, "With this album I chose some new producers who I figured
would definitely allow me to really articulate myself in a different way.
Every album you gotta grow. You gotta look for something different. This
one is a take on vocals as well as entertainment. 'Can he do it again? Can
he open up? Can he push the envelope?' That's what this one is all about,
the next step."
A song from the set, "Yeah" featuring Lil' Jon and Ludacris, was recently
leaked to urban radio. The official first single from Confessions will be
"Burn," which will be released in the coming weeks.


Alicia Keys Locks Up Xmas Chart

It looks like Santa’s favorite this year is Alicia Keys as the soul diva's sophomore
album is currently the month's best-selling release. In fact, for the week ended
December 21, The Diary of Alicia Keys jumped back into the number one spot,
selling nearly 370,000 copies.
Just two weeks before, Diary debuted in the top spot selling 618,000 copies, the
third-best sales week of the year (behind Linkin Park and 50 Cent) and fifth-best
all-time by a solo female artist. The New York songstress, who dropped to
number two the next week, returned to number one with a three-week tally that
now surpasses 1.3 million copies sold.
With Keys back on top, last week's chart champ, Ruben Studdard, fell to
number eight with his Soulful selling 245,000 copies.


Ruben Studdard Wants To Open Restaurant

With his debut album, topping the sales chart, it's safe to say he's doing a lot
with the first. Now he's moving on to the second. Studdard plans to open a
restaurant in his hometown.
"I'm in the process of brainstorming with my marketing team and all that
stuff, trying to come up with a concept for a late-night restaurant for people
in Birmingham," the Alabama crooner said recently.
No, ruben sandwiches will not be the specialty. Instead, Ruben wants to cater
to club-goers.
"It's gonna be open until probably like 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning," he said.
"We have one or two [similar restaurants], but nothing in the heart of the city,
in downtown ... 'cause all of our clubs are downtown. And when the clubs are
through popping, there's nothing where you can just shoot straight to the restaurant."
A post-party grub stop yes, but this will not be an imitation Denny's. "It's gonna be
classy, it's not gonna be just a thrown-together restaurant," Studdard said.
For the menu, the "American Idol 2" winner is thinking a smorgasbord of "down
home" cooking. "We're gonna have the Southern favorites, but our presentation
of it is gonna be better," he said.
The eatery has yet to be named, but with Studdard's "Velvet Teddy Bear"
nickname and signature 205 jerseys (Birmingham's area code), he has some fun
"It was gonna be Fat Boys," Ruben said. "But I was driving around in Florida and
I saw a restaurant called Fat Boys and I was like, 'Dang it.' "
Studdard hopes to have plans finalized by early next year, before he hits the road to
promote Soulful. The album sold 300,000 copies in its first week.



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