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J-Lo Working on New Album; Britney Takes a Break

  • Mary Morningstar

43-year-old rock singer Melissa Etheridge is recovering from two breast cancer surgeries. A week after announcing she had been diagnosed with cancer, she gave fans an update on her official web site. “Wow, I didn’t see this coming," Etheridge wrote. "But the good news is they took out the tumor and a few lymph nodes, only one of which was positive [for cancer].” She added, “I’m taking all of this one day at a time and spending time with the ones I love. …I will be back and rockin’ in just a few months.” Doctors say the cancer was caught early and they expect her to make a complete recovery.

Jennifer Lopez is working on two new studio albums. One is an English-language collection, which is described as “more funk-oriented.” The second is a Spanish-language album. Lopez can currently be seen in the new romantic comedy Shall We Dance? The motion picture also stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. Jennifer recorded an English and Spanish version of Dean Martin’s “Sway” to be used as the film’s closing song. It will be released as a single later this year.

Marc Almond, who sang in the 1980s pop band Soft Cell, is recovering from injuries he sustained in a recent motorcycle accident. Almond was a passenger on the bike, which collided with a car in London. He suffered severe head injuries and is listed in critical but stable condition. Soft Cell’s best-known hit was the 1981 Number One single “Tainted Love.”

Bob Geldof plans to release a new version of his 1984 Band Aid charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” He’s working on the benefit recording with Midge Ure, formerly of the British band Ultravox. “I’m very excited," Ure says, "This project is not just about raising money. It’s about putting the focus back on Africa and the problem of famine, which has not gone away.” They’ve invited Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Dido, Travis and some other top British acts to appear on the single. The 1984 release, recorded under the group name Band Aid and co-produced by Midge Ure, featured an all-star lineup of performers, including Bono, Phil Collins, Sting, George Michael, U2, Duran Duran and Boy George. It raised more than $9 million for famine relief in Ethiopia.

Newly married pop superstar Britney Spears has announced that she’s taking a few months off from her career. She posted a message to fans on her web site that reads: “My prerogative right now is to just chill and let all of the other overexposed blondes on the cover of Us Weekly be your entertainment…good luck girls! …I want to enjoy all of the simple things that I missed over the past few years due to working way too much. Being married is GREAT and I can’t wait to start my family.” Britney’s new career retrospective, Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, will be in record stores November 9.

On October 29, the much-anticipated film about the life of the late Ray Charles will open in theaters nationwide. Ray stars Jamie Foxx. Charles approved the motion picture before his death on June 10 of complications from liver disease.

On October 25, MTV will premiere Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s new reality series, Battle For Ozzfest. Eight bands will compete for the chance to perform on the 2005 Ozzfest tour and a possible recording deal. Sharon and Ozzy will serve as the show’s judges.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES/ OCT. 26:

New albums scheduled for release on October 26 include: Galactic Fan Pack by Big & Rich on Warner Brothers Records; “Best of Both Worlds: Unfinished Business” by R. Kelly & Jay-Z on Jive Records; “An Intimate Evening with…Live From the House of Blues” by Mary J. Blige on Sanctuary Urban Records; (“American Idol” finalist) Diana DeGarmo’s self-titled debut on RCA Records; “Different Tonight” by Steve Holy on Curb Records; “Southern Comfort” by Shawn Kane and “Here I Go Again” by Mario on J Records; “Big Yee-Haw” by Shannon Lawson on Equity Records; “Lazyboy” by Lazy Boy on Universal Records; “Chopped & Screwed” by Lil’ Scrappy & Trillville and “The Frank Sinatra Christmas Collection” (includes new version of “Silent Night” that was made by mixing the late singer’s unreleased vocal track with a newly recorded orchestral track) on Reprise Records; “It Always Will Be” by Willie Nelson on Lost Highway Records; “Motown 2” by Michael McDonald on Motown Records; “One Love” by New Edition on MCA/UME Records; “Barn & Grill” by Blake Shelton and “Ride” by Trick Pony on Warner Brothers Nashville Records; “The B. Coming” by Beanie Sigel on Def Jam Records; “Still Not Getting Any…” by Simple Plan on Lava Records; “Twice the Speed of Life” by Sugarland on Mercury Nashville Records; Darryl Worley’s self-titled sophomore album on DreamWorks Nashville Records; and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” by Xzibit on Columbia Records.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS:

On October 27, artists featured on the recent Luther Vandross tribute album, Forever, For Always, For Luther, will take part in a charity concert at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The lineup includes Patti LaBelle, Will Downing, Lalah Hathaway, and Mindi Abair, among others. The show will benefit the American Diabetes Association. Luther is recovering from a diabetes-induced stroke he suffered in April of 2003.

Country star Tim McGraw held his “Swampstock 2004” benefit on September 30. The event, which included a celebrity concert and softball game, had originally been scheduled to take place on September 19, but was postponed due to Hurricane Ivan. Artists taking part in this year’s event were Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Jeff Bates, Big & Rich and the Warren Brothers.

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