Sunday May 30th, 2004


New CD's this past week:

- LaShell Griffin – Free
- Tamyra Gray – The dreamer
- Theo – Chemistry… you and me

Music news stories this week:

Isley Brothers Working On New Album

The Isley Brothers have enjoyed a very long and illustrious career
spanning over forty years but it appears that the duo is just getting
started. The group recently inked a new recording contract with Def Soul
Classics and they will be releasing a new album, Pretty Woman, in early
2005. In addition, the duo will be launching a clothing line and an
entertainment complex in St. Louis , Missouri , later this year.
The group is presently recording the Pretty Woman album but according to
Ron Isley, it's too early to say who exactly will be featured on the set.
He said: "Some of the people that's gonna be involved in this record will
be OutKast, Pharrell, R. Kelly. It's been talk about us doing something
with Beyonce and I don't know -- the list just keeps growing because we're
gonna cut a lot of music and then we'll sort that music out."
Isley added that he's already recorded material with Nelly and Patti
LaBelle, and that hopefully he'll be able to do something with 50 Cent.
With all of the potential collaborators for the new set and the long list
of friends the Isleys have accumulated over the years, it shouldn't be a
problem for them to book acts for their new entertainment complex in St.
Louis, which will feature a performance area as well as restaurants.
Ron Isley explained that the new entertainment complex would be a little
more classy than the House Of Blues. He said: "It's like a gonna be like a
entertainment center. It has a couple of restaurants there. It's gonna be
where other entertainers will come to St. Louis and perform there, and
that type of thing, so it's gonna be the first for St. Louis ."While most
people would have their hands full recording a new album and launching an
entertainment complex, the Isley Brothers have also decided to expand Ron
Isley's fur coat line into a full clothing line. Ron Isley said: "I have a
fur coat clothing line and I'm gonna go a step further into the clothing
line like Puffy and like Jay-Z because we love clothes. You know we
represent a lot of stuff in our videos and you know the Mr. Biggs
character. They want to know where did you get that mink coat or where did
you get that suit or that type of thing, so we gonna put that out there
for them."
In related news, the Isley Brothers will be presented with a Lifetime
Achievement Award at the 2004 BET Awards on June 29th at the Kodak Theater
in Hollywood


Club Nouveau's Val Watson Goes "Urbal"

Val Watson is best recognized as the songbird of Club Nouveau, the 80’s
super group that made musical history with hits like “Jealousy,”
“Situation #9” and the Grammy Award winning cover of “Lean On Me.” As
the signature female voice of the trio, for many fans, Club Nouveau is Val
With the release of her debut solo effort, Urbal on June 8 from Thump
Classic R&B, however; Watson sets out to prove her fans delightfully
wrong. Club Nouveau may be Val Watson, but Val Watson is certainly not
Club Nouveau. With Urbal, the vocalist breaks out her Club Nouveau shell
and introduces us to a new vocal persona. Urbal is a free flowing musical
ride that reveals her funk face, her jazz side and her just plain ol’
groovin’ back base.
And speaking of fans, the Nouveau-lite has plenty of them, including
George Clinton, George Duke, Bootsy Collins, Gerald Albright, Patrice
Rushen and Michael Cooper. And to prove it, they all join her on the
“This solo effort has been budding inside of me for a long time. I love
Club Nouveau. The group and I are family, but sometimes a sister just has
to bust out with it! Urbal allowed me the opportunity to show a different
side of me. I’m excited about the project because Club Nouveau members Jay
& Mario are excited and it feels good when the members of the group you’re
in not only genuinely support you, but openly push for you to have the
solo success they feel you deserve, “ explains Watson.
"Urbal" is an eclectic blending of funk, R&B and jazz. Its flow is earthy,
like the title suggest, while at the same time organically rhythmic. On
“The Real (Do-Do)” Bootsy and Michael Cooper join Watson for some up tempo
house party fun. The vibe is more relaxed and vintage Watson on the
dreamy ballad, “Whether You Know It” where she is joined by Jane Eugene of
Loose Ends.
While “Soul Shack” takes us all the way back to our ‘70’s groove roots,
“Do What Come Funky” is a trip to the mothership, with George Clinton
navigating the way. “High (It’s My State of Mind)” is a breezy feel good
jam that proves the spirit can be elevated with just song and a beautiful
With Patrice Rushen lending her signature keyboard stylings on the CD’s
finale, “Alright,” it’s a perfect conclusion for a project that provides
an Urbal remedy to the classic ailments hankering today’s overburdened
music generation. Val Watson’s Urbal, like a strong cup of hot herbal
tea, will stir you from the inside out…and you’ll find yourself the better
for it.


George Benson's New Album Set For A June Release

R&B superstar and jazz guitar legend George Benson has announced that his
new album, Irreplaceable, will be released on June 8th. The album has been
re-tooled from an earlier version that was scheduled to debut in February,
and now includes an instrumental version of "Take You Out," a tribute to
another legend, Luther Vandross. Also featured are singers Joe, Lisa
Fisher, Chyna, and Latrelle.
Benson has won a total of eight Grammys during the span of his career,
which began when he got his first gig in 1962, at the age of 19.
He released his solo debut album, The New Boss Guitar of George Benson,
two years later.
The new track listing for Irreplaceable is as follows: "Irreplaceable,"
"Cell Phone," "Black Rose," "Take You Out," "Strings Of Love," "Missing
You," "Sixplay," "Softly As The Morning Sunrise," "Stairway To Love," and
" Southwest Sunrise ."


Alicia Keys To Publish Memoir Based On Her Diaries

Alicia Keys has announced that she is going to publish a memoir based on
her diaries, and a songbook of poems and lyrics. G.P. Putnam's Sons will
publish a hardcover version of the songbook in November of this year, with
a Berkley paperback edition coming in 2005. Meanwhile, Putnam will publish
The Diary of Alicia Keys in hardcover in the fall of next year, with a
Berkley paperback edition to follow in 2006. Her Diary will detail what it
was like to grow up in New York 's Hell's Kitchen as the daughter of a
single mother. It also tells of Alicia's very early musical education and
ever-growing skills as a performer.
When Alicia Keys was 20 years old, her debut album, Songs in A Minor,
debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart and staying in the top 20
for 29 weeks. Keys earned five Grammy Awards for the album. Over ten
million copies of Songs in A Minor have been sold worldwide.
Alicia's sophomore album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, sold more than 617,000
copies in its debut week in December 2003. and has currently sold more
than 2.7 million copies.


Will Usher Put On His Dancing Shoes For New Movie?

Move over, Travolta -- Usher is steppin' up. Rumor has it that the R&B
star is in talks with MGM to make a movie based on the step-dance
movement, a Chicago derivative of swing-dancing. Ananova reports that the
22-year-old singer will produce and star in the film, titled Step in the
Name of Love. This wouldn't be Usher's first on-screen appearance -- he
also starred in The Faculty and She's All That.
The star is also keepin' it in the family. He'll be co-producing the film
with his mother Jonnetta Patton, who is also his manager.
You can get a peek at Usher's acting ability later this year when he
appears as singer Jackie Wilson in Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles
Story, starring Jamie Foxx.


Babyface Re-working "A Love Story"

R&B singer and songwriter Babyface was originally scheduled to release A
Love Story, his first album in three years, on March 23rd. But because of
changes at his label, which shifted him to record mogul Clive Davis's J
Records, the album was pushed back for some tweaking.
Speaking at a press conference in St. Lucia , where his jazz festival
appearance May 16th was ultimately rained out, Babyface explained what
happened with his new set: "I had finished the record, but then I went
back in on it and I'm still in on it. So I'm still just going through
songs trying to figure out what kind of record I want to put together.
Since there's a regime change so to say at Arista and now I'm on J Records
I'm working with Clive Davis, close with Clive Davis, so we're trying to
figure out a record that works for both of us."
Originally the set was to be a concept album that follows a relationship
from beginning to end. Though Babyface didn't say how the album would
change, he noted that as a person and an artist, he hasn't changed much
since his 1989 breakthrough album Tender Lover. He said: ["I'm pretty calm
and cool about things. I guess I've always kind of been that way anyway. I
don't know that I've changed very much over the years, maybe just got a
little wiser over things, but I just learned more. I don't know that I'm
much different than I was in the beginning. It's a challenge still to try
to write music that can be inspiring and not necessarily on the negative
The first single from A Love Story is "The Loneliness." The album itself
doesn't have a definite release date, but is expected sometime this summer.

News 2004

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