Sunday July 10th, 2005


New CD's this past week:

- R. Kelly – Reloaded

Music news headlines this week:

Rick James Lives Again On Upcoming Album

Tracks that funk legend Rick James was working on before his death last
August will form the new album "Rick James Forever," due Aug. 16 via
Sanctuary. Although the final track list is not yet confirmed, has learned the set will feature a collaboration with James'
daughter Ty, "My Life," plus "Do You Wanna Play?," featuring Johnny Gill
and Howard Hewitt.
Other cuts earmarked for "Rick James Forever" include "Taste," "When Your
Body's Mine," "Sapphire," "Freak Baby," "Sex Slave," "Deeper Still," "Funk
With Me," "Stroke" and "Brass Bed."
Discussions are in the works for a James tribute concert to coincide with
the new album's release, but no details have yet been set.
James died Aug. 6, 2004, of a heart attack. The artist, who had battled
drug addiction for years and suffered a 1998 stroke, had methamphetamine,
cocaine, Vicodin and Xanax in his system at the time of death, according
to the autopsy report.


Aretha Franklin Issues Statement On The Deaths Of Luther Vandross & Obie Benson

On Tuesday, (July 5th) Aretha Franklin officially issued a statement
regarding the recent deaths of her close friends -- singer Luther
Vandross, who died following complications from a recent stroke at age 54,
and the Four Tops' Obie Benson, who died of lung cancer at age 69. Both
singers died on Friday, July 1st.

Aretha Franklin's full statement reads:

"I was truly saddened to hear about two very dear and old friends of mine,
Luther Vandross and Obie Benson. Luther, one of the premiere balladeers of
all times and a dear friend, and Obie Benson, one of the great showmen of
all times, and friend. Of course, they were both revered and loved by so
many. They have both moved on up a little higher, beyond the reach of pain
and suffering." She closed by saying: "God Bless them both. I will truly
miss them. -- Aretha Franklin"

During her performance at the Essence Music Festival on the very day both
singers died, she dedicated “Say A Payer” to them , on this she was joined
by longtime friend Bishop Paul S. Morton of Greater St. Stephen Ministries.
“Both were men of integrity and principle” she said.
Later this year, Aretha will release A Woman In Love -- her first album on
her new Aretha Records label. No release date is set.
Aretha will kick off a handful of west coast dates on September 4th, in
Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.


Lauryn Hill Says She Suffered Emotional Abuse As A Member Of The Fugees

Lauryn Hill hasn't always picked the best times to sound off, especially
if you remember her tirade during a performance at the Vatican last year,
but now the singer is taking a few shots at her Fugees bandmates in a new
interview in Trace magazine as the group prepares to reunite.
The interview is Hill's first major interview in five years, and she says
she was "taken advantage of" and "suffered a lot of emotional abuse" while
in the group. The singer said, "The Fugees was a conspiracy to control, to
manipulate and to encourage dependence."
Hill added, "I had become used to improper dynamics, where people would
transfer their hatred on someone else, thereby making a beautiful person
The singer-producer also told the magazine that Wyclef Jean and Pras tried
to keep her from seeing other men because of her rumored clandestine
relationship with Jean.
A source close to the Fugees didn't seem too concerned about Hill's
comments. The source told New York 's Daily News, "There's no negativity
as far as they're concerned. There's a glimmer of hope that this band that
was so important is trying to get back together. If they do, it will be a
new Fugees, not the old Fugees."
Hill is currently working on a solo project while also logging studio time
with the Fugees for a reunion set.


Will Downing Remembers Luther Vandross On New Album

Vocalist and songwriter Will Downing will release a new album titled Soul
Symphony in October on GRP. The set is the follow-up to his successful
2003 studio album Emotions, and includes a heartfelt version of Luther
Vandross' arrangement of "Superstar."
At a reception held July 1st at New Orleans ' African American Museum of
Art, Culture and History, Downing exhibited his photographs of jazz and
R&B musicians. He also shared some details about the new set, which will
feature the Downing signature of sensual originals and unique covers of
soulful favorites.
Interviewed on the very day that Vandross passed, Downing said that he had
included a Luther tribute on Soul Symphony: "Oddly enough, I have a
tribute to Luther on there, we do a version of 'Superstar,' Luther's
version of 'Superstar.' So that was my tribute to him, and we have some
original pieces on there as well as some other remakes."
Downing added that Vandross' smooth sound created a template for singers
like Downing to follow: "I mean, obviously one of the biggest influences
of what I do. You know, there's always been the comparison of our voices,
but he was a big influence on me. I mean, if there wasn't him ... If it
wasn't for him, I don't know what my sound would actually be. He helped
cultivate what I do. So I'm forever grateful to him. "

Mariah Carey Goes Triple Platinum

Mariah Carey's latest album, The Emancipation of Mimi, continues its
strong performance this week, moving back up to Number Two on the
Billboard 200 Albums chart. In addition, the CD was certified triple
platinum this week, indicating sales of three million copies.
The video for Mariah's current single, "We Belong Together," has only four
more days to go before it will be officially retired from MTV's TRL
countdown. Only the videos that appear on the countdown for the entire
50-day eligibility period receive the honor of being retired. Mariah fans
can vote for her video on the Website.
Mariah performed "We Belong Together" at the BET Awards Tuesday night
(June 28th). The program was broadcast live from the Kodak Theater in Los


Boyz II Men Pleased That The Fans Have Accepted Them As A Trio

Grammy Award-winning R&B group Boyz II Men began their incredible career
as a quartet, but in recent years the group has become a trio, as Michael
McCary's severe scoleosis has made it impossible for him to meet the
travel demands of the group. McCary and the group mutually agreed that he
would leave the group, and the baritone is now pursuing an acting career
in Los Angeles.
In an interview group member Shawn Stockman explains that fans
have accepted the group as a trio. He said: "We thought that the fans
were going to react negatively, and the fans would come up to us and be
like, 'Ay, you guys really did it. It doesn't sound like anything
changed.' You know, the fans will let you know, you know what I'm sayin'?
Like I said, we've been touring since November so, and we've been doing
some heavy shows. I guess we're doing something okay."
Stockman added: "As far as, like, doing the harmony and things of that
nature, because of the fact that we've dealt with Mike and his back issues
and him not being able to be at certain shows and things of that nature,
we've pretty much designed our performance to sing in three parts."
Boyz II Men will be heading to the studio to record a new album in October.


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