Sunday November 12th, 2006 HOME
New CD's this past week:
- Dionne Warwick - Me and my friends
Music news headlines this week:
R&B Star Gerald Levert Dies Of Heart Attack
Popular R&B singer Gerald Levert died Friday (Nov. 10) of a heart attack
in his hometown of Cleveland. The artist turned 40 years old in July. The
son of O'Jays lead singer Eddie Levert, Levert emerged from his father's
shadow to become a well-regarded singer/songwriter and producer in his own
Some 20 years after notching his first R&B hit with "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop)
Goes My Mind," Levert's warm, sensual voice remained a concert draw,
especially among female fans who rushed the stage to grab -- and sometimes
wrestle over -- the teddy bears he would toss into the audience.
The artist came to national attention as a member of Atlantic Records'
Levert, comprised of his brother Sean and friend Marc Gordon. The trio
scored with the aforementioned "Pop" in 1986. Next came the No. 1 R&B/No.
5 pop hit "Casanova" in 1987, followed by three more R&B chart-toppers,
"Addicted to You," "Just Coolin'" featuring Heavy D and "Baby I'm Ready"
Also in 1991, Levert launched his solo career with the EastWest album
"Private Line," whose title track notched No. 1 on the R&B charts. A
second No. 1 R&B single, "Baby Hold on to Me," arrived the following year.
Levert went on to record eight solo albums, the most recent being 2004's
"Do I Speak for the World?" "Voices," a compilation of Levert duets with
his dad and other artists, was released last year. Levert was also a
member of the group LSG, which included Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill.
Beyond singing, Levert's talents included songwriting and producing. His
collaborations included projects with Barry White, Stephanie Mills, Teddy
Pendergrass and the Winans. He also co-wrote and co-produced Barry White's
last No. 1 R&B hit, 1994's "Practice What You Preach."
"He was one of the greatest voices of our time, who sang with unmatched
soulfulness and power, as well as a tremendously gifted composer and an
accomplished producer," reads a statement from Atlantic. "Above all, he
was an exceptional human being whose warmth and grace inspired us all."
Joss Stone Teams With Saadiq For New Album
Joss Stone is delving deeper into R&B and soul on her new,
as-yet-untitled album, due March 6 via Virgin, Billboard.com has learned.
The set was produced by Raphael Saadiq, whose resume includes Angie
Stone, Jill Scott, Kelis and the Grammy-winning Erykah Badu and Common
duet, "Love of My Life."
The 19-year-old Stone hit Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas to record
the album, which will feature such tracks as "Headturner," "Tell Me What
We're Gonna Do Now," "Music," "Tell Me 'Bout It," "Nothing Better Than
(The iPod Song)" and "I Wish I Never Met You."
It's the follow-up to 2004's "Mind, Body & Soul," which debuted at No. 11
on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States,
according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Meanwhile, Stone will make her big-screen debut in the fantasy film
"Eragon," which opens Dec. 15 in U.S. theaters. Based on the novel of the
same name by Christopher Paolini, it also stars Jeremy Irons and John
Prince Unveils Plans For Las Vegas Club
Purple was the color and Prince was the star wednesday (Nov. 8) as the
eccentric musician launched a nightclub venture that will see him
performing twice a week in Las Vegas.
As previously reported, Prince, 48, is taking up residence in the desert
gambling resort for an indefinite period, playing at the Rio Hotel in the
3121 club -- named after his most recent studio album.
"I like Las Vegas," said a peach-suited Prince during a three-song set
featuring "Fury," "Purple Rain" and "Let's Go Crazy." The regular Friday
and Saturday night shows start on Nov. 10; tickets are $125 and are
already sold out for the first weekend.
Prince himself has given few clues as to why, and why now, he has chosen
to set up shop in Las Vegas amidst the topless dancers, magicians, Cirque
du Soleil spectaculars and crooners such as Barry Manilow and Celine Dion,
who have also set up semi-permanent residence on the Strip.
A rare giver of interviews, he appointed his Australian twin backup
singer/dancers, known as the Twinz, as his official spokespersons
yesterday. "He wants to bring raw, live music back to Las Vegas. He wants
a more positive vibe," Maya Mcclean, one of the Twinz, told reporters.
The intimate 3121 club, decked in purple and seating 900, will be under
Prince's sole artistic control. An adjacent restaurant, 3121 Jazz Cuisine,
is being run by his personal chef.
This is his vision. This is his room. This is his club," said John Meglen,
president of AEG Live, which is backing the venture. Prince is expected to
stay in Vegas for several months, or, as Maya Mcclean said, "until he
figures out what he wants to do next."
Mary J. Blige To Release Reflections
Although the track list has yet to be announced, Mary J. Blige will be the
subject of a new retrospective, "Reflections: A Retrospective," due Dec. 12
via Geffen. The mix of old favorites and previously unreleased tracks will
be previewed by the new song "We Ride," which will hit U.S. radio outlets
Another new song, "Never Gonna Break My Faith," was recorded by Blige and
Aretha Franklin for the film "Bobby," which arrives Nov. 23 in U.S.
theaters. However, it is unclear if the Bryan Adams-penned track will
appear on "Reflections: A Retrospective."
In advance of yet-to-be announced holiday performances, Blige is part of
the (Product) Red advertising campaign to promote a global fund for AIDS
Usher Preps His New Signings For Early 2007 Debut
After forfeiting the last week of “Chicago” due to an illness, R&B singer
Usher is ready to get back to business. The first objective on his list of
many will be to officially launch his US Records, a joint venture deal
with J Records.
The Confessions singer/actor tells MTV that the move to executive ranks
was a bit of a transition for him initially, but he gave praise to the
legendary Clive Davis for helping to guide him through the role reversal.
"I never prided myself on going specifically after the business," says
Usher. "So it was a challenge for me to take this seat. But being in the
company of Sony BMG, and Clive specifically, I knew I could do a great job
as long as I'm able to provide great material.
The first two acts Usher will begin pushing are Chicago R&B group One
Chance and Atlanta rapper/songwriter Rico Love. He predicted a
first-quarter release for One Chance and late-spring/ early-summer date
for Rico Love.
Usher thinks his similarities to these acts will help the public grow to
love and except them comparable to the way he has been accepted.
He tells MTV, "you're gonna get those comparisons because that's the only
thing people may have to go off of. And that's a good thing — it worked
for me. I'm not initially going after that, but it's coming from hoekiejr,
so you may hear resemblances of my personality in their music, because I
did write songs for them and I did produce for them. But when it comes to
their visibility, they have their own individuality. They don't look like
me, they don't move like me."
No word on when User will begin working on his next project.
New Bio Sheds Lights On Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke charted 34 Top 40 hits, including such classics as "You Send
Me," "Cupid," and "Wonderful World" and he was among the original
inductees when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opened in 1986. Now fans can
learn even more about the legendary vocalist, with the publication of an
updated version of Our Uncle Sam, written by the late Cooke's
great-nephew, Erik Greene.
New information in the bio sheds light on Cooke's business dealings. He
was one of the first artists, Black or White, to demand control of his
publishing rights and was a passionate advocate for educating other
artists about controlling their careers. However, Greene reveals that
Cooke's family does not receive any direct royalties from his music. "This
fact has bothered the family ever since Sam died, because [they] know how
strongly he felt about protecting his legacy."
Greene also notes the book has new revelations about Cooke's untimely (and
mysterious) 1964 death in a Los Angeles motel room. "It's time to set the
record straight," he says.
Calvin Keeps On Pushin'
Calvin Richardson, who made the ladies swoon with his 2003 ballad "Keep On
Pushin'," will drop his new album "Crib" in February. The crooner admits
that he has felt the pressures of changing his soulful sounds in order to
garner mainstream appeal. "I'm real with my music," he says. "But again,
you have to stay true to the music and everything will come in due time."
The new album includes a song with fellow North Carolina native Fantasia
called "What You Looking At?"