Sunday October 15th, 2006                                                  HOME


New CD's this past week:

- Gladys Knight - Before me
- Kenny Lattimore & Chanté Moore - Uncovered / Covered
- Sammie - Sammie
- Yummy Bingham - The first seed (UK release)


Music news headlines this week:

DJ Premier Gunning For Whitney Comeback Album

After co-producing one of the top pop albums of the year, Christina
Aguilera's "Back to Basics," DJ Premier is back in the studio honing
projects by Nas, Amerie and Canibus, and close to securing production work
on Whitney Houston's upcoming comeback disc.
Premier says he is most looking forward to working with Houston, who
reunited with Arista/J head Clive Davis recently to start planning her
first new studio album in four years. "I'm not gonna jinx it but there
[have] been talks and I've met with the right people so if that goes down
I'd love to give her a big record," Premier tells "I know
what she needs. I'm not gonna give her a record about rolling on dubs and
all that just because that's what's current. That's beneath her. She can
go left field as long as the record's banging and she sings it well."
In recent years, Houston has battled drug addiction and last month filed
for divorce from singer Bobby Brown, her husband of 14 years. Premier
thinks the long-subdued pop star can make a grand reentrance. "She
deserves another chance," he says. "I won't misguide her career and give
her some bulls**t track."


Ciara Previewing 'Evolution' On Tour

In support of her upcoming sophomore set "Ciara: The Evolution," due Dec.
5 via La Face/Zomba Label Group, Ciara will embark on a 16-city club tour.
The trek kicks off Oct. 26 in Washington, D.C., and wraps up Dec. 10 at
New York's Nokia Theatre Times Square.
The singer will perform tracks from the new disc, including "Get Up" and
lead single "Promise," as well as previous singles such as "Goodies" and
"1, 2 Step," from her 2004 debut "Goodies." That disc peaked at No. 3 on
The Billboard 200 and has sold 2.6 million copies in the United States,
according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Ciara will also support the Black Eyed Peas Dec. 1 at the Staples Center
in Los Angeles and perform at several radio concerts in cities such as
Philadelphia, Miami and Hartford, Conn.
"Previewing the new record in a small setting gives my fans an exclusive
experience where they can truly hear and see exactly where I'm going,"
says Ciara. "It's about so much more than just my personal growth -- it's
about the evolution of music, the evolution of dance, the evolution of
fashion. I want to bring a taste of all that to the fans in a one-on-one
environment to get them excited."
The video for "Promise," directed by Diane Martel, will debut Oct. 25 on
BET's Access Granted. The network will also air her half-hour special
"From the Studio to the Stage," as well as a dance contest.


Ruben Studdard Says He “Lived Like A Rock Star” While Recording New Album

R&B vocalist Ruben Studdard says that many of his fans didn't realize that
he had released the top-selling gospel album, I Need An Angel, right after
his 2003 J Records debut. As a result, he decided to call his new album
The Return.
Unlike Soulful, which was recorded in-between tour stops and appearances
as the reigning American Idol champion back in 2003, The Return found
Studdard concentrating on recording in Miami, Los Angeles, and New York
with producers the Underdogs, Scott Storch, Harold Lilly & Khao,
Bryan-Michael Cox, Dre & Vidal, and others.
Some of the lyrics on The Return mention hanging at clubs, relaxing over
cocktails, and romancing. The lyrics reflect Studdard's mindset while
making the album: "Aw man, I basically recorded the album in L.A. and New
York and Miami, and I just got a chance to just have fun, you know, like I
lived like a rock star for a whole year and a half. I partied and did
whatever I wanted to do while I was recording this album just so, like,
people could feel that vibe on the album, you know what I mean?"
Studdard's new single from the set, "Change Me," stands at Number Seven on
the urban adult airplay charts.


Lionel Richie Enjoys Interacting With Younger Fans

Lionel Richie is basking in the glow of his current hit single, "I Call It
Love," which is being played on a number of radio formats. He's also
tickled by the reception for the new album Coming Home from younger fans,
who let him know how much his earlier work as a solo artist and with the
Commodores means to them.
Richie says that getting so much love from younger fans feels really good,
especially since he's learning that his music is being passed from one
generation to the next. He says: "It is a beautiful thing, I'm so
enjoying it. Only one line I have to get used to when I get the new school
kids is, 'My mom .... (laughs) My mom and dad played your records all the
time, Mr. Richie.' 'Cause the question I kept asking is, 'How do you know
the Commodores so well? And all of my back catalog?' And they were saying,
'You were taught in the family.'"
Richie will kick off his national Coming Home tour on October 27th in
Detroit at the Music Hall Center.


Michael Opens His Own Label

Michael Jackson has reportedly left his Bahrain-based record company Two
Seas, cancelling the album he was set to release under the label. Jackson,
who has lived in Bahrain since being acquitted of child molestation
charges in 2005, was set to release his first new album since 2001 with
the label - a joint venture between Jackson and a member of the Bahraini
royal family, Abdulla Hamad Al-Khalifa. But Jackson's spokesperson Raymone
Bain announced that the singer is no longer affiliated with Two Seas. The
pop star has now formed a new firm called the Michael Jackson Company,
which will take care of Jackson's business affairs as well as a new album
planned for release in 2007.


Howard Hewett Turns On The Romance Again

Years ago, even before Howard Hewett 's extraordinary mid to late 80s
heyday of hit after pop chart hit, fellow superstar Kenny Loggins gave the
romantic R&B singer a bit of songwriting advice. “Be careful about what
you record because it could become a hit song,” Loggins said, “and that
means you'll have to perform it it every night. So make sure you like it.”
Taking those words to heart, Hewett has been something of what he calls a
“weekend warrior” these past years, performing over 120 live shows
annually for fans (mostly from Friday-Sunday so he can spend time with his
family) for fans who love his classic songs as much as he does. The
romantic musical icon's incredible history of hitmaking includes “I'm For
Real,” his first #1 hit in 1986, “Stay,” “I Commit To Love,” “Strange
Relationship,” “Once, Twice, Three Times,” and “Show Me.”
Hewett's fans also can't get enough of his original modern gospel classic
“Say Amen” (which launched a long history of inspirational music mixed in
with the romance) and his earlier hits with his group Shalamar, which
include “Dancing In The Sheets,” “A Night To Remember,” “For The Lover In
You” and the near two million selling disco classic “The Second Time
Even though he's never really been away—in addition to his hectic touring
schedule, he released the inspirational album The Journey in 2003 and has
recorded over the years with Babyface and jazz stars George Duke, Brian
Culbertson, Joe Sample and The Rippingtons--Hewett is cool with the term
“comeback” to describe the exciting new project he's currently writing and
recording for Groove Records, The Legacy Label Division of Multi-Media
Entertainment Company The Machine Productions .
The singer is co-executive producing the as yet untitled album, his first
strictly pop/R&B recording since 1994's It's Time , with The Machine's
Director Of Business Development Ralph Johnson, the Grammy winning Hall of
Famer and founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire. Their collaboration
brings full circle a professional relationship between the two that began
long before the Shalamar days, when Johnson met Hewett at a dance club
and, upon hearing his voice, asked the up and coming singer if he wanted
to record some demos. Hewett is also co-producing tracks with Johnson,
Mark Nelson (a onetime member of Az Yet) and Monty Seward, a top R&B
session keyboardist who wrote many classic songs with Hewett, including
“Say Amen.”
“In the years since I recorded It's Time , my fans would keep telling me
they were waiting for me to put new material out,” Hewett says. “The truth
is, I've been enjoying my life a lot, working with other artists, touring
and spending time with my family, and I didn't have a lot to say
creatively. In the last couple of years, though, I've really been inspired
by what a lot of artists are doing in R&B music, from Mariah Carey's
hip-hop influenced projects to Mary J. Blige, Heather Headley and
Will.I.Am. Hearing great new sounds has really motivated me to get back in
the studio and record again.”
Hewett promises that his Groove Records debut will have the great romantic
lyrics and sound he's famous for, in addition to a socially conscious
approach that reflects an awareness of things happening in the world
today. “The vibe is basically about exploring different situations and
bringing different grooves to the mix,” he says. “Lyrics and melodies have
always been my forte, and it's great to be working with an organization
like The Machine that is so open to my vision.”
Of the man Rolling Stone Magazine once called “the premiere vocalist of
the post Marvin Gaye era of romantic pop,” The Machine CEO Mike Reynolds
says, “We are so happy to complete this deal with Howard. He is a personal
favorite of mine and we are privileged to have him on board as the anchor
to our legacy catalogue of artists. He is the rightful heir to the throne
left empty by the likes of Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye, and this album
will be proof positive that Howard is back as an R&B icon!”
The feeling is mutual, as Hewett loves the idea of being on an independent
label that is committed to their artists; in his early deals with major
labels, he encountered the unfortunate reality of artists signed as tax
writeoffs, who were given a lot of money but no ultimate corporate
“When I first started recording, my goal was to have a career that had
longevity, not just a one shot deal where I made a lot of money and jumped
out,” he says. “There are many things I love about The Machine, from their
spiritual vibe to a real passion for their artists. I never had a problem
as a professional singer going out and making a living. But getting a
great team like this behind me hasn't always been as easy.”
Hewett fully embraces the modern technology, which allowed him to record
his entire previous album The Journey in a home studio environment, and
makes the recording of this new album a very comfortable, creatively
stimulating experience. “In the old days, labels had to shell out hundreds
of thousands of dollars and hire out big commercial studios to achieve the
same result,” he says.
“What's exciting about today's market is not only the ability to record
economically, but also so many new ways to market music. I'm fortunate
that I bring to the table a strong history of recordings and a fan base
that is curious as to what I'm going to do next. I think over the years,
I've become even more comfortable both professionally and personally in my
own skin, and I like passing that vibe off to the audience. I love the
career I've had to this point, but I'm also really excited about what's
going to happen from this point on.”


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