Sunday June 19th, 2005
New CD's this past week:
- Lizz Wright - Dreaming wide awake
Music news headlines this week:
Alicia Keys Prepares Unplugged Album For Fall
Even though Alicia Keys recently wrapped her Diary tour in support of her
multi-platinum 2003 album The Diary of Alicia Keys, the award-winning
singer-songwriter says she has one more project to complete before
she relaxes. She says,["I'm coming out with an unplugged album which is
going to be really exciting for me -- to strip everything down and do what
I do. That's coming out in September, but I'm recording it in July. And
after that I'm going to sit down and have a glass of water or something!"
Alicia is up for two BET Awards this year. She's competing for Best Female
R&B Artist and Best Collaboration for her duet with Usher "My Boo." The
BET Awards will be aired on June 28th on BET.
Alicia says she will be starring in Composition in Black and White, a film
about biracial piano prodigy Phillipa Schuyler. Halle Berry is producing
the film, which is scheduled for a 2006 release.
Mariah Carey Breaks her Own Record With Number
Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" is on top of the Billboard Hot 100
singles chart again with almost 200 million listeners hearing the song
this week. That number breaks the all-time one-week Billboard Hot 100
Audience chart record she set last week with 192-plus million listeners.
This is the fourth week the song has been at Number One on that chart.
"We Belong Together" also enters its fourth week at Number One on the
Billboard R&B/Hip Hop singles chart, fifth week at Number One on the
Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart and remains at Number Three on the
Billboard Pop 100. The song is from Mariah's double-platinum album The
Emancipation of Mimi, which is Number Five on the Billboard Top 200 albums
chart this week.
In other Mariah news, the diva will be performing at the BET Awards,
airing June 28th.
Gwen Stefani, meanwhile, has been trailing Mariah at Number Two on the
Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with her song "Hollaback Girl" for four
weeks. The song is at Number One on the Billboard Pop 100.
Patti LaBelle Ends 28 Year Feud With Diana Ross
Patti LaBelle, who will be releasing a new compilation titled Classic
Moments on June 21st, has taken time out to publicly apologize to Diana
Ross. According to a recent posting on the Diana Ross fan Website
diana-web.com, LaBelle says she recently buried the hatchet with Ross
after carrying a grudge for nearly 30 years.
At LaBelle's May 28th concert in Norfolk , Virginia she says she "...
publicly apologized to Ross for all the nasty and wrong things she's
thought and said about her over the years." LaBelle has been angry at Ross
and Motown for luring away singer Cindy Birdsong, who was then part of
LaBelle's group the Bluebelles, to join the Supremes in 1967, replacing
co-founder Florence Ballard.
LaBelle joked to the crowd that she first apologized to Ross last month in
front of "23 other divas" when both she and Ross attended Oprah Winfrey's
A Bridge To Now gala celebrating 25 legendary black women for their
contributions to the arts, entertainment, and civil rights.
LaBelle went on to say that she and Ross have spoken on the phone several
times in the past few weeks.
Patti LaBelle says that she doesn't want to be called a "diva," explaining
that the word is too closely identified with young singers who perform
along to pre-recorded tracks: "There's no way that you're going to get a
diva attack from Patti LaBelle. I don't go there. I've never gone there.
And that word, 'diva,' I refuse to be called a 'diva' anymore, because
there's so many of these little young girls, who have that title now and
they go out there and sing to tracks. Now how can you be diva if you're
singing to your own voice?"
LaBelle's Classic Moments CD features her cover of Michael McDonald's "I
Keep Forgettin'" and a duet with Elton John on his 1970 Top 10 hit "Your
LaBelle will perform on ABC-TV's Good Morning America on July 1st. Check
local listings for stations and times.
On July 4th, she plays at Elton John's Philadelphia Freedom Concert,
outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to benefit HIV/AIDS programs and
Lalah Hathaway Hounded Producer Mike City For “Better & Better” Single
Singer Lalah Hathaway's current R&B adult single, "Better And Better," was
written and produced Mike City, who has produced tunes for Usher, Brandy,
Jon B., Rahsaan Patterson and others. The romantic tune was one that City
had written a while back and had promised to another artist. But Hathaway
says she began to hound the producer about letting her have the track for
her current album, Outrun The Sky.
Hathaway said: "I love that song. Mike City wrote that song for another
artist and I had been listening to it for like two or three years. And
every time he'd play it, I'd say, 'Now why -- now why did you give that
song to someone? You know that's my song.' And finally I just started
lobbying, like, I want this song. I called his girlfriend, like, 'Just be
sure you get that song for me -- make sure you get that song.' Finally he
just called me: 'You want that song? Let's do it.'"
What appealed to Hathaway about "Better And Better" was the tune's hopeful
spirit, which she attributes to City's skills: ["Really, it's self
explanatory. It's one of those songs about whatever the relationship is
and the fact that it just gets better with time. And it's just such a
positive, affirming lyric. I really like that about Mike, I think he's
really great at taking something and making it, not sappy but ... just
really a sweet, a sweet thought."]
Hathaway will appear this Saturday, June 18th, at the JazzTrax Big Bear
Lake Festival in Big Bear, California . She'll be performing with the
Luther Vandross tribute show Forever, For Always, For Luther with Kirk
Whalum, Paul Jackson, Jr., and Brian Culbertson.
Stevie Wonder Delays New CD For A Third time
Stevie Wonder apologized to fans once again for the delay in his upcoming
new CD titled A Time 2 Love, which was supposed to be released June 14th.
The album which has been postponed twice before, marks Wonder's first new
album in a decade. Wonder told Newsweek that, "Time is making the album
better, I can only apologize in that I did say it would be ready on this
or that date. So much has happened in the last year, it caused me to think
differently about how I would organize the record."
The CD, which will feature Wonder's longtime friend Paul McCartney on one
track, was originally set to be released last January before being
postponed. A May 3rd release date also came and went with no new disc.
Newsweek is now reporting that due to some last-minute tweaking, the CD
missed its latest release date last week.
Still, Wonder denies feeling any undue pressure from Motown, admitting,
"Obviously, they would have liked to have had it yesterday. The reason
they haven't got it is I'm not ready to give it to them." He added:
"However long it takes me, I'm giving the very best that I can... I won't
settle for less."
Motown still expects A Time 2 Love to be out by the end of the month.
Sylvia Rhone, the new CEO of Motown Records, says, "As music lovers, we
are way past due to have Stevie back in our lives."
On July 2nd, Wonder will be performing outside the Philadelphia Museum of
Art for the U.S. Live 8 concert.
On July 4th, he'll join Patti LaBelle and others at Elton John's
Philadelphia Freedom Concert, also outside of the Philadelphia Museum of
Art, to benefit HIV/AIDS programs.
Toni Braxton Reclaims Limelight With 'Please'
Grammy-winning superstar Toni Braxton is gearing up to release her new
album, Libra, on Blackground Records, in association with Universal
Records. The new single "Please," from her upcoming sixth studio album,
Libra is already causing a buzz with fans and radio DJ's. The mid-tempo,
bass heavy track is growing fast at Urban Mainstream radio. Produced by
the much sought after keyboardist/producer Scott Storch (Beyonce, Lil Kim,
Snoop Dogg), "Please" is enjoying heavy airplay in New York City (Hot 97),
Los Angeles (The Beat), Miami, and Washington, D.C., among other major
markets. Braxton is also working with acclaimed hip hop video director
Chris Robinson (Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg) on a sultry music video,
scheduled to premiere soon.
The six-time Grammy winner Braxton exploded onto the music scene in 1993
with her multi-platinum, self-titled smash debut album. Toni Braxton won
3- Grammys, netting Toni the "Best New Artist" statue, and selling more
than 10 million copies worldwide, marking the beginnings of Braxton's
legendary career in R and B and pop. Her follow-up album, 1996's Secrets,
sold 12 million copies worldwide, garnered two Grammys, and established
the husky-voiced songstress as one of the music world's most hypnotic
vocal divas, placing her in the ranks of legendary female vocalists such
as Whitney Houston, Chaka Kahn, and Anita Baker.
Three more solo albums followed, with Toni delivering her fifth studio
offering, the 2002 More Than A Woman CD. The dramatically charged album
was a therapeutic work for the tireless Braxton, balancing provocative
themes that foreshadowed the changing landscape of her personal and
professional life. Soon after, Toni took a temporary hiatus from the
limelight to enjoy motherhood (she has two sons with musician Keri Lewis)
and explore creative avenues outside of the recording arena. The versatile
performer starred in the Broadway musical hit Aida in 2003, (in 1998 she
starred as Belle in Broadway's Beauty And The Beast) but her own brush
with a heart ailment (Pericarditis) while she was on stage, led the singer
to take a break from most of her entertainment duties. Braxton, now fully
recovered, has recently become a spokesperson for the American Heart
Association, joining their efforts to educate women about heart disease.
Excited about her return to recording, the charismatic Braxton is
simultaneously pursuing acting roles that showcases her diverse talent.
Toni recently appeared in a recurring 3-episode role on the hit UPN show,
Kevin Hill. Currently, the talented songstress/songwriter/actress is
putting the finishing touches to her upcoming Blackground /Universal debut,
Libra, as she proceeds to reemerge as the music world's reigning diva.
Libra represents a bold, new statement from Braxton that even though she
took a break, she is still on top. The proof is in the music, as Toni
prepares to catapult to the top of her genre once again.