Sunday April 2nd, 2006                                                 


New CD's this past week:

None to report

Music news headlines this week:


Jaheimís Ghetto Classics Certified Gold

The latest album from soulful vocalist Jaheim, Ghetto Classics, has been
certified gold by the RIAA. The set -- which was released just five weeks
ago by Divine Mill/Warner Bros. Records -- debuted at Number One on the
Billboard Hot 200 albums chart in February. Interest in the set was fueled
by the first single, "Everytime I Think About Her," featuring Jadakiss.
The New Jersey native co-produced a number of tracks with Kay Gee, the
former Naughty By Nature member who heads the Divine Mill label. Other
producers on the set include Scott Storch and Bink.
Jaheim has already proven his sales connection with his fans, with both
previous albums -- 2001's Ghetto Love and 2002's Still Ghetto -- going

Avant Not Concerned About His Competition

Singer Avant is gaining ground on the charts with "4 Minutes," the first
single from his upcoming album, Director. Signed to the Magic Johnson
label, which is associated with Geffen and Interscope, Avant says he knows
he has stiff competition for chart space from a slew of talented singers
on other labels, but he only chooses to set his sights on the gains of
artists within the Interscope family.
He says: "There's a lot of little young cats at the charts right now doing
their thing. I would have to say my label mates. I want to give them a lot
of plug and I know they give me a lot of plug. The Mary J. Bliges of the
world, the Keyshia Coles, I think they're doing a wonderful thing on the
charts right now. So I'm fighting, I'm searching after them, I'm trying to
get them out my way, you know what I mean?"
Avant's "4 Minutes" moves to Number 17 this week on the Billboard Hot
R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

New Janet Single Due In May, Album In Fall

The first single from Janet Jackson's as-yet-untitled new album is
expected to hit U.S. radio outlets in May, Virgin Urban president Jermaine
Dupri tells Billboard. The album will likely follow at the end of
September. As previously reported, longtime Jackson collaborators Jimmy
Jam and Terry Lewis have contributed to the new album.
"It's a milestone year for us and for the collaboration," Jam says. "It'll
be 20 years since the release of Jackson's 1986 album 'Control,' so
there's definitely a little bit of a nod to that on the new album."
Will Dupri be a featured guest on any of the new tracks? "You'll hear my
voice on some songs," he says. "But I don't know if Jermaine Dupri the
artist exists anymore. I'm not into that right now. It's far on the back
burner. It's probably in the cards somewhere down the road. But it's the
last thing I'm thinking about right now."
The new offering will be the follow-up to 2004's "Damita Jo," which was
released amidst the aftermath of Jackson's controversial Super Bowl
halftime show. The set debuted at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 and has sold
985,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Heather Headley Stays True To Herself

Heather Headley cringes at the mention of hip-hop.
And she chuckles ruefully about People magazine mentioning her in the same
sentence with troubled R&B star Whitney Houston and her jailbird husband,
Bobby Brown.
Headley is a good girl--a minister's daughter who was born in Barataria,
Trinidad, and moved to Fort Wayne, Ind., at 15. She doesn't do drugs. She
isn't going to sing about bling, or about doing it and doing it and doing
it. And she refuses to wear cheesy outfits to sell CDs.
At the same time, she's neither self-righteous nor judgmental.
The pop culture magazine compared Headley--who plays the Landmark Theater
(formerly known as the Mosque) in Richmond April 6 with Anthony
Hamilton--to Houston because of her voice.
But the comparison should come to a screeching halt right there.
"There are few singers I can think of who are that great who I grew up
listening to," Headley, 30, said last week in a phone interview with The
Free Lance-Star. "I don't know what's going on with her now, but I do know
there was a time she was one of the great voices--and for that part of
[the comparison], I'm honored."
Headley's sophomore album, "In My Mind," debuted in the Top 5 in late
She grew up singing "Amazing Grace" in her father's church choir, and says
that shaped her as both a human being and a performer.
She says because of that, she wants people coming to her R&B concerts and
Broadway shows to "feel it" the same way parishioners sitting in the back
pew did.
That kind of intensity can be heard from wall to wall on "In My Mind." It
begins with the sultry title cut. It continues with the playful "Me Time,"
on which she collaborates with Babyface. And it grabs listeners by the
heart on both "Losing You" and the gospel-influenced "Change."
The album contains elements of funk and dancehall, and employs the talents
of Shaggy on the reggae-soaked "Rain."
Partly because of that church upbringing, Headley also wants audiences to
know what she's about.
"I want you to understand what I'm saying and feel what I'm doing," she said.
"I grew up in a Christian home, a spiritual home," Headley said. "So when
I was going out into the world, there were some songs I wouldn't do.
"I, personally, don't like to sing about anything sexual," she said. "Even
if you begged me, pleaded with me to pretend I'm someone else, I can't do
"And I don't want to sing about money," she said. "I do like to sing about
In 1997, Disney recruited her for the role of Nala in the "The Lion King."
She followed that up with the marquee role in the Elton John/Tim Rice show
"Aida," for which she won a 2000 Tony Award.
When she started on Broadway, she said, she had to continually remind
herself of her roots, and the same process continued when she started her
career as a recording artist.
That's why she called her debut 2002 album--nominated for Grammys for Best
New Artist and Best R&B Vocalist--"This Is Who I Am."
This is who she is: Heather Headley, not Christina Aguilera.
She said her label, RCA Records, has allowed her to be herself, but that
generally, in the music business, "People want you to sound like a certain
person, dress like a certain person.
"I have to remind myself all the time, 'This is who I am.' I'm a Christian
girl. I believe in God. My mother would kill me if I sang about sex."
Of Houston, who was an early role model before her troubles began, Headley
said: "As crazy as people might say she is, you didn't see her naked in
any of her movies.
"All she did was stand behind that microphone and let you know she's a
much better singer than you."
And that's exactly what Headley does--depend on her vocal cords instead of
her skin.
"Your voice," she said, "just comes flying forward."

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