Sunday July 16th, 2006
New CD's this past week:
None to report
Music news headlines this week:
Musiq Hopes Fans Accept Change As His Music
Soul singer Musiq has reached an artistic crossroad.
His tastes and styles have shifted, but he wonders if his fans are ready
for the change.
"There are a lot of things going on with this project," says Musiq, 28, of
his upcoming album during a phone interview. The LP is due out this fall.
"When you come out with something new, there's always that option to do
the same thing versus doing something different. I'm doing my best to be
as creative as I can be."
With so much on his mind, Musiq says he's looking forward to opening for
his good friend India.Arie tonight at Chene Park. The two broke into the
music business around the same time (Musiq in 2000 and Arie a year later)
and are considered pioneers in the neo-soul, alt-R&B movement.
But the music industry is full of change, and Musiq's aforementioned
bustle includes his move from the Def Jam/Def Soul label to Atlantic
Records in the past year.
New bosses are as hard to please as fans and they, too, might want the old
Musiq instead of the new.
"I look at somebody like Stevie Wonder, who was always changing and always
evolving and that's what I want to be," the Philadelphia native says.
"Being an artist is a journey and you evolve. I'm going to evolve whether
I pursue it or not."
It's an evolution that encompasses live performances, as well. Musiq says
that he looks up to pop icon Prince as the ultimate stage performer and
someone he would like to emulate.
"I can't touch Prince, but I love performing," Musiq says. "I try to bring
a lot of energy to the stage and I hope Detroit will give me that energy
Usher To Make Broadway Debut In 'Chicago'
R&B superstar Usher will soon be crooning a Broadway melody. The
multi-platinum recording artist and five-time Grammy winner will take over
the role of conniving lawyer Billy Flynn in the long-running musical
revival "Chicago," making his Broadway debut, producers Barry and Fran
Weissler announced today (July 14).
"I have always admired Broadway actors for their showmanship, dedication
and focus that goes into performing live on stage every night," the
27-year-old Usher said in a statement. "Being on Broadway allows you to
connect to audiences in a whole new way that's different from music and
movies." The artist opens Aug. 22 in "Chicago" and will appear through
While "Chicago" will mark his Broadway debut, Usher has acted in TV shows
and several films, including last year's "In the Mix."
"Chicago," Broadway's longest running musical revival, has a score by John
Kander and Ebb and a book by Bob Fosse and Ebb. The tale of Roxie Hart, a
has-been chorus cutie who murders her boyfriend and tries to ride the
notoriety to show-biz fame and fortune, originally was seen on Broadway in
Barry Weissler has developed the replacement strategy for his long-running
shows, including "Grease" and "Annie Get Your Gun," into a fine art. In
"Chicago," its morally relaxed heroine has been played by such diverse
actresses as Brooke Shields, Melanie Griffith, Sandy Duncan, Marilu Henner
and Rita Wilson.
Among the actors who have played Billy Flynn on Broadway are Huey Lewis,
Wayne Brady, Kevin Richardson, George Hamilton, Taye Diggs, Alan Thicke
and Billy Zane.
Commodores Keyboardist Milan Williams Dead
Veteran R&B group the Commodores are mourning the loss of founding member
Milan Williams, who died Sunday, July 9th, at MD Anderson Hospital in
Houston, Texas at age 58. He had been battling cancer.
Williams was part of the original lineup for the group, which was formed
by students at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. In addition to
Williams on keyboards, the Commodores included Thomas McClary on guitar,
Lionel Richie on saxophone, Walter "Clyde" Orange on drums, William King
on trumpet, and Ronald LaPread on bass. After touring as the opener for
the Jackson 5, the Commodores were signed to Motown subsidiary MoWest in
Williams was born on March 28th, 1948 in Okolona, Mississippi and played
with another Tuskegee band, the Jays, before joining the Commodores.
Williams wrote the Commodores' first big charted hit, the synth-driven
instrumental track "Machine Gun," which peaked at Number Seven on the
Billboard R&B chart in 1972. He also had a hand in penning arguably the
group's biggest hit, "Brick House," as well as "Too Hot Ta Trot," "I Feel
Sanctified," and "The Bump." He also played on all the Commodores albums,
including those recorded after Lionel Richie exited in 1982 to pursue a
According to Billboard.com, Williams is survived by many family members,
including his wife, Melanie Bruno-Williams, two sons from previous unions,
Jason and Ricci, two brothers and a sister. Funeral services will be held
July 14th in Okolona. A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles in
Mary J. Blige Says Tour Will Be Straightforward
Multi-platinum selling star Mary J. Blige is kicking off her Breakthrough
Experience tour on Friday, July 14th, in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The
singer is reluctant to share too many details about her shows ahead of
time because she wants to surprise fans. "I hate giving everything away,
because then everybody knows what's going to happen, and I don't like
that," Blige told Billboard.
What fans can expect is a live band and plenty of hits. "When you think of
me, you just think of Mary coming with what she is and whatever I've
evolved into as far as my talent is concerned," said the Queen Of Hip-Hop
Soul, whose album The Breakthrough topped the Billboard 200 in its first
week. "I don't have a lot of gags and whistles and dancers and stuff like
that. It's just me."
The Breakthrough Experience will feature openers LaToya and Jaheim and
play 29 dates across the country. Another leg of the tour in under
Inida.Arie Dispels Old Rumors of Alicia Keys Rivalry
Singer and songwriter India.Arie is enjoying accolades for her
long-awaited new album, Testimony, Vol. 1: Life & Relationship. The title
bowed at Number One on the Billboard 200 Albums chart last week, the first
of her albums to do so. While the singer has been embraced by fans since
her 2001 debut Acoustic Soul, which peaked at Number 10 on the Billboard
200, it seemed that early awards and honors escaped her, especially when
she lost the Best New Artist Grammy to fellow newcomer Alicia Keys.
Now the winner of two Grammys for her work on her sophomore set Voyage To
India, Arie still faces the perception that Keys somehow "robbed" her. But
Arie recently dispelled media-driven rumors of a rivalry with Keys and
noted that their music should not be compared.
She said: "I never had a personal thing towards Alicia, you know what I
mean, because the media frenzy was crazy. But she's a sweet person, we did
a photo shoot together and I found out how nice and sweet she is. And from
then I was like ... you know, it's not about her. It is what it is. And
somebody said on my website, 'She took your shine!' Nobody can take my
shine, that's crazy."
Bobby Valentino Preps Something 'Special'
R&B up-and-comer Bobby Valentino will return on Sept. 19 with his
sophomore album for Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace label, "Special
Occasion." The 14-track set has been preceded by the track "Wreck,"
produced by Sean Garrett. The first official single, "Turn the Page," was
produced by Rodney Jerkins.
Valentino co-wrote the majority of "Special Occasion." Among the other
writing and production contributors to the album are Tim & Bob, Dre &
Vidal and Bryan Michael Cox.
The new album is the follow-up to Valentino's 2005 self-titled debut,
which bowed at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 673,000 copies in
the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Prince's NPG Music Club Shutting Down
After five years, Prince's NPG Music Club online site is being shut down
until further notice. According to a statement released to NPG members,
the music club has maximized its potential.
"In its current form, there is a feeling that the NPGMC has gone as far as
it can go," reads the statement. "Has the time come to once again make a
leap of faith and begin anew? These are questions we in the NPG need to
answer. In doing so, we have decided to put the club on hiatus until
Named after Prince's New Power Generation backing band, the site debuted
on Valentine's Day 2001. Envisioned as a thriving online community of
Prince devotees, the site provided a conduit for fans to obtain new
releases and non-album music, secure choice concert seats and receive
passes to sound checks and after-parties.
Membership came in two options: $7.75 for basic monthly access or $100 for
a premium annual membership. The site, which recently won a Webby Award,
had also been dealing with ongoing complaints about its traffic-heavy
ticket section. The complaints resulted in Prince lowering the membership
price to $2.50 a month or $25 for a lifetime membership. There is no word
on when or if the NPGMC will return.