Sunday July 2nd, 2006                                                  HOME


New CD's this past week:

- Brand new heavies - Get used to it
- India.Arie - Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & relationships


Music news headlines this week:


India.Arie Already Working On New Album

India.Arie's third Universal Motown album, "Testimony: Vol. 1, Life &
Relationship," which arrived earlier this week, finds the artist covering
Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter," trading licks with Bonnie Raitt
and even playing trumpet as she explores the aftermath of a painful
But Arie tells the new album's companion, "Testimony: Vol.
2, Love & Politics," is already written and partially recorded. One track
being eyed for the set is "Vagina's Monologues," which Arie has already
performed live.
"I've reserved that song for that album, but I don't know if it will be on
there," she tells Billboard. "People will assume 'Vol. 2' is about the war
and American politics. A little of that is in there."
"But as in 'Vagina's,' I'm also talking about the way women view their
bodies and how that affects our health," she continues. "I talk about AIDS
in Africa; the hip-hop generation that doesn't prioritize its money. It's
about the politics of human nature and humanity. It's not about me being
preachy but doing music that touches and speaks to people."
Arie says she looks forward to branching out into other genres, including
trying her hand at country music. "Now that I have better producer chops,
a country album is something I want to do one day. I don't know who's
going to put it out. But when I do, I don't think people will call it
'country music.' They'll probably call it 'neo-soul,'" she says with a
laugh, referencing the term so often used to describe her music.
Arie will be on tour throughout the summer, the first performance was
saturday (July 1)in West Palm Beach, Fla.

McKnight Turns '10' With Warner Bros.

Veteran vocalist Brian McKnight has inked a new deal with Warner Bros.,
after previous stops at Mercury and Motown. His tenth album, appropriately
dubbed "10," will be released this fall.
McKnight previewed three tunes from the set at an intimate luncheon
Wednesday in Los Angeles, describing "10" as "full of theme songs,"
inspired by his post-divorce life. The project includes a collaboration
with Jill Scott on "More Than Just a Thang."
McKnight says he's optimistic about his move to WB. "I've seen what they
can do -- they think outside the box," he tells Billboard. "When I was a
teen, all the acts I loved were on Warner Bros., including my brother
Claude of Take 6. It's kind of surreal but it feels like this is where I
should be."
"10" is the follow-up to 2005's "Gemini," which debuted at No. 4 on The
Billboard 200. The new album is not alone on McKnight's plate. In late
July, he'll shoot a TV pilot for a weekly talk/music show that he says is
attracting the attention of Fox and ABC. He is also "toying" with the
notion of signing his two sons to a label.
"Nikko is like a Jimi Hendrix on guitar, and BJ is a carbon copy of me,"
the proud dad says. "I tell them to just relax. But they see other kids
making records, and they're anxious to do the same thing."


Blige, Brown, West, Foxx Lead BET Winners

Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown and "Gold Digger" duo Kanye West and Jamie Foxx
shared double wins at the 2006 BET Awards last night (June 27). Picking up
respective statuettes as best female R&B artist and best
duet/collaboration, Blige and West with Foxx also tied for video of the
year honors.
R&B newcomer Brown walked away with a best new artist trophy as well as
the viewers' choice award.
Airing live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the sixth annual
ceremony saluted several first-time winners. Prince was named best male
R&B artist, rapper T.I. claimed best male hip-hop artist and Kirk Franklin
was christened best gospel artist. Anthony Hamilton was the inaugural
winner of the first BET J Cool Like That Award, which commemorates this
year's re-launching of the former BET Jazz channel. Rounding out the list
of music-category winners was best group honoree the Black Eyed Peas.
Receiving special tributes were actor/activist Harry Belafonte (the BET
Humanitarian Award) and R&B pioneer Chaka Khan (BET Lifetime Achievement
Award). Khan's segment provided one of the evening's most compelling
moments as Prince, Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams and India.Arie performed
songs from the singer's illustrious career.
Bookending the ceremony were Beyonce's performance of her new single "Deja
Vu" with Jay-Z and Prince closing the proceedings with the title track
from his current album, "3121."
Also turning in memorable performances: Busta Rhymes (featuring surprise
appearances by Eminem and Missy Elliott) and Foxx, who engaged in a
passionate kiss with Fantasia during their performance of Foxx's "DJ Play
a Love Song."
Actor/comedian Damon Wayans hosted the 2006 BET Awards, which also
recognizes achievements in acting and sports. An encore telecast will air

Here are the 2006 BET Awards winners:

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist: T.I.
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist: Missy Elliott
Best Male R&B Artist: Prince
Best Female R&B Artist: Mary J. Blige
Best Gospel Artist: Kirk Franklin
Best New Artist: Chris Brown
Best Duet/Collaboration: Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx ("Gold Digger")
Best Group: Black Eyed Peas
Best Actor: Terrence Howard
Best Actress: Taraji P. Henson
Male Athlete of the Year: LeBron James (basketball)
Female Athlete of the Year: Venus Williams (tennis)
BET J Cool Like That: Anthony Hamilton
Video of the Year (tie): Mary J. Blige ("Be Without You"), Kanye West
featuring Jamie Foxx ("Gold Digger")
Viewers' Choice: Chris Brown


Michael Jackson Hopes To Restart Career In Europe

Michael Jackson, who earlier this year shuttered his Neverland Valley
Ranch in California, is moving to Europe to reignite a musical career
stalled by his sex abuse trial. A spokeswoman for Jackson said today (June
27) that the 47-year-old pop star was shopping for a home in Europe but
had not finalized his plans.
Jackson has spent much of his time in Bahrain since his acquittal on child
molestation charges in June of 2005. Spokeswoman Raymone Bain said Jackson
has also severed ties with his longtime business managers as part of a
"sweeping restructuring" of his affairs.
"He's just decided that with all of the projects he's going to be involved
with and all of the people he's beginning to work with in the music
industry, it's easier [to live in Europe]," Bain said. "He'll be going
back and forth to Bahrain but Europe will be his principal residence."
Jackson has named her his general manager and hired New York-based
attorney L. Londell McMillan to oversee his business and legal affairs,
she said.
Jackson, who has made few public appearances since the end of his
sensational trial, had previously announced plans to release an album in
2007 and was considering a tour.
Bain said Jackson had no plans to sell Neverland, a 2,800-acre) ranch in
the California foothills where he was accused of molesting a young cancer
patient. In March, state authorities ordered Jackson to close Neverland
and fined him more than $100,000 for failing to pay the staff there or
maintain proper insurance. Bain said the self-styled King of Pop now
maintains the sprawling estate, famed for its Disneyland-like rides and
zoo, with a small staff.
"He still owns Neverland and he's still providing the funding for its
upkeep," she said. "I'm sure at some point in time he will move back to
Neverland, that's not out of the question. It's not in the immediate
future but it's not far-fetched."
Bain said Jackson has been visiting Ireland and France, where he took his
children to the Disneyland resort, and "having a number of meetings
charting out his musical future and his career."
Prosecutors asserted during Jackson's trial that the former child star,
who ruled the pop charts in the 1980s, was in precarious financial shape
due to mounting debts. In April, Jackson reached a deal to refinance more
than $200 million in loans secured by his stake in the Beatles' song


Legendary Producer Arif Mardin Dies

Arif Mardin, the legendary producer/arranger whose career spanned landmark
recordings from Aretha Franklin to the Bee Gees to Norah Jones, died
monday (June 25) in New York. Mardin was 74 and had been suffering from
pancreatic cancer for about a year.
Born in 1932 into a prominent family in Istanbul, Mardin attended the
London School of Economics, but it was a lucky meeting in 1956 in Turkey
with Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones that lead to his decision to attend
the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He graduated from Berklee in 1961
and Nesuhi Ertegun, a fellow Turk whom he met at the Newport Jazz
Festival, brought him to Atlantic Records two years later.
At Atlantic, Mardin took his lessons about engineering and producing from
a team of in-house giants that included Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler and
Tom Dowd. Mardin originally wanted to be a big-band arranger, but he
caught the pop bug in 1965, while co-producing the Rascals with Dowd. In
the coming decades, he produced hits for a remarkable array of Atlantic
artists, including Franklin, Average White Band, Phil Collins, Hall &
Oates, Roberta Flack, Brook Benton and Dusty Springfield.
In the mid-'70s, Mardin helped the Bee Gees redefine their sound and
revive their career with the album "Main Course," which included the No. 1
hit "Jive Talkin'."
Mardin showed great diversity, with successes ranging from Bette Midler's
sweeping ballads "From a Distance" and "Wind Beneath My Wings" to Chaka
Khan's funky "I Feel For You." He also produced memorable folk albums for
John Prine, jazz albums for Eddie Harris, Herbie Mann and Charles Lloyd
and country sets for Willie Nelson.
Mardin remained at Atlantic until 2001, rising to senior VP. Shortly after
retiring from the label, he re-emerged as co-VP/GM of EMI's revived
Manhattan label under Blue Note chief Bruce Lundvall. It was at EMI that
Mardin put the final crescendo on his career, co-producing Norah Jones'
breakthrough Blue Note album "Come Away With Me."
"Come Away With Me" won Grammys for album of the year and record of the
year in 2003 and earned Mardin producer of the year honors. He also
produced Jones' "Feels Like Home," which sold 1.02 million units in its
debut week in February 2004.
According to his official biography, Mardin collected close to 60 gold or
platinum albums and won 12 Grammy Awards. In 1990, he was inducted into
the Recording Academy's Hall of Fame.
Mardin is survived by his wife Latife; son Joe, a producer; and daughters
Julie and Nazan Joffre. His funeral will be in Istanbul, with a U.S.
memorial service to be held in the fall.


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