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Eminem to Release Much Anticipated CD; Britney Hits Fans with <i>Greatest Hits</i> Album

  • Mary Morningstar

Ten years after being made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, OBE, rock legend Eric Clapton has become a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, CBE. He received the honor from Queen Elizabeth II's daughter, Princess Anne, during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace on November 3. Clapton told reporters, "As a kid I would not have been able to accept this. I was very immature about the way I looked at that. I was against the establishment. Now that I have grown up, I really think it is an important thing to be able to set example of some kind."

Detroit rapper Eminem's new album, Encore, is expected to be one of the year's best sellers, with nearly four million copies reportedly pre-ordered. Piracy concerns led Interscope Records to announce an early release of the collection. Originally slated for a November 16 issue, Encore will now hit stores on November 12.

Britney Spears' much-anticipated Greatest Hits CD was released on November 9. In addition to hits like "Oops…I Did It Again," "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" and "…Baby One More Time" are three new or previously unreleased tracks. They include Britney's version of Bobby Brown's 1988 hit "My Prerogative," "(I've Just Begun) To Have My Fun" and "Do Somethin'," which previously was only available on the European release of her DVD, In The Zone.

On November 9, Universal Records released Elton John's 43rd album, Peachtree Road. It's described as "an intimate, country-tinged" collection. That same day, his four DVD set, Dream Ticket: Elton John Across Four Decades, will go on sale exclusively at Best Buy stores and BestBuy.com. It features three full-length concerts from Madison Square Garden, London's Royal Opera House and the Great Amphitheater in Ephesus, Turkey. The fourth DVD contains archival performance footage, interviews, a costume gallery, and more. In other news, billboard.com reports that Elton has signed a deal with ABC to star in a sitcom based on the legend's 30 years of experiences in the entertainment industry. Elton will play the role of a rock legend tangled up in humorous situations with the people around him. The show's creator says it's possible some of other famous people will make guest appearances. A pilot episode is expected to be filmed in 2005. Elton and his lyricist Bernie Taupin have already written a tune called "Him and Us," which will be used as the show's theme song.

R&B singer Brandy has split with Atlantic Records, the label she's been signed to her entire career. Combined sales of her four albums for Atlantic exceed 8 million copies. Brandy's latest CD, "Afrodisiac," sold only 361,000 copies. No reason was given for the split, but the singer is reportedly talking with several labels about creating her own imprint for future releases.

Career retrospectives from two Country superstars hit record stores November 9. Toby Keith's Greatest Hits 2 features three new tracks, including a duet with his 17-year-old daughter Krystal. They recorded a new version of James Taylor and Carly Simon's 1974 Top 5 hit, "Mockingbird," which will be released as the album's next single. Toby says, "Krystal and I used to sing 'Mockingbird' at home all the time. Krystal is an incredible singer, and it is just as good as it gets to work with her. She did a great job on the song and I am so proud of her." The collection also contains two live tracks. And, Shania Twain also added some new cuts to her first Greatest Hits CD. They include country and pop versions of her current hit "Party For Two" (pop version recorded with Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath and country version with newcomer Billy Currington), the honky-tonk track "I Ain't No Quitter" and the ballad "Don't," which she wrote for the film An Unfinished Life. The movie opens December 24 and stars Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez.

On November 9, American Idol first-season finalist Tamyra Gray made her Broadway debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams. She'll play the leading role of Priya in the limited engagement musical, which is scheduled to run for 12 weeks.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS:

The 3rd annual Wildlife Benefit for Walden's Puddle will take place on November 11 in Nashville. This year's lineup includes Vince Gill, Billy Ray Cyrus, Rodney Crowell, Dobie Gray and Collin Raye. The Walden's Puddle Rehabilitation Center, located outside of Nashville in Joelton, Tennessee, provides care and treatment to more than 1,300 orphaned and injured wild animals each year.

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