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Pop Stars Participate in US Inaugural Festivities; New <i>American Idol</i> Season Begins

  • Mary Morningstar

This week, many inaugural festivities will take place in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Inaugural Committee is expected to raise $40 million from corporate sponsors and supporters to cover the cost of the celebrations, which include parties, parades and fireworks displays. On January 18, Gloria Estefan, Lee Greenwood and John Michael Montgomery performed at the "Salute To Those Who Serve" concert at D.C.'s MCI Center. There will also be nine official balls. The "Black Tie and Boots Ball" will be held on January 19 at the Mariott Wardman Park Hotel. Country artists Lyle Lovett, Sara Evans, Clay Walker, Neal McCoy and Asleep at the Wheel will provide the entertainment.

On January 20, the Constitution Ball will take place at the Washington Hilton and the Freedom Ball will be held at Union Station. That same night, The Independence Ball, Texas Wyoming Ball, Liberty Ball, Democracy Ball, Patriot Ball and Stars & Stripes Ball will all take place at the D.C. Convention Center. Military personnel will have their own Commander In Chief Ball on January 20 at the National Building. There will also be some unofficial parties, including one thrown by the Recording Industry Association of America, RIAA, and another by the Creative Coalition. 3 Doors Down will perform at the RIAA's event at the H20 Club and Macy Gray will headline the Creative Coalition's "Ball After the Balls."

The fourth season of Fox-TV's talent competition American Idol began on January 18. The two-hour premiere showed contestant hopefuls at their auditions in seven U.S. cities. After three weeks of audition specials, the semi-final round will air on February 8. Actual performance episodes start on February 22. Some changes have been made with the American Idol contest this year. The eligibility age has been expanded by four years. Contestants can now be 16 to 28 years old. And guest stars will take part in the audition round. They include Kenny Loggins, Brandy, Kiss's Gene Simmons and LL Cool J, who join the show's three judges, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.

Jimmy Griffin, who played guitar and sang harmony in the 1970s pop group Bread, died of cancer on January 11. He was 61. In addition to his success with Bread, Griffin's career achievements included winning an Academy Award for co-writing the Carpenters' 1971 Top 5 single "For All We Know." The song appeared in the film Lovers and Other Strangers. He also wrote hits for Country stars Conway Twitty and Restless Heart. Griffin made his Country debut in 1991, when he formed The Remingtons with Richard Mainegra and Rick Yancey. The following year, the trio had a Top 10 hit with its first single, "A Long Time Ago."

In February, there will be a month-long celebration to mark what would have been Bob Marley's 60th birthday. After the festivities, his widow, Rita Marley, plans to move his remains from Jamaica to a burial site in Ethiopia. She says, "Bob's whole life is about Africa. It is not about Jamaica." She added, "He has a right for his remains to be where he would love them to be. This was his mission. Ethiopia is his spiritual resting place." Rita has organized a concert that will take place on his birth date, February 6, in Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa.

The Black Crowes disappeared from the rock music scene three years ago after recording seven albums. Singer Chris Robinson and his brother, guitarist Rich Robinson, led the group from the mid-1980s to 2002. Since then, they've pursued other musical interests. Chris also married actress Kate Hudson, who gave birth to their first child in January of last year. Now, their manager, Pete Angelus, has announced that the band will reunite to perform a series of shows at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. Five concerts are scheduled for March 22 through March 26. Angelus told Billboard magazine the band will wait to "see how these shows at the Hammerstein evolve" before they make a decision about the group's future.


On January 22, a tsunami relief concert will take place at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Organizers have booked Eric Clapton, the Manic Street Preachers, Jools Holland and others to appear at the event.


Usher was a double winner at the 31st annual People's Choice Awards, which took place on January 9 in Los Angeles. The R&B star was named Favorite Male Singer. He shared a second trophy with Lil Jon and Ludacris for their recent Number One hit "Yeah," which won in the category of Favorite Combined Forces. Other winners in the music categories included U2, named Favorite Group; Alicia Keys, Favorite Female Singer; Brooks & Dunn, Favorite Country Group; Tim McGraw, Favorite Country Male Singer; and Shania Twain, who was named Favorite Country Female Singer. The Favorite Remake winner was Sheryl Crow's recording of "The First Cut Is The Deepest."


On January 20, Country star Toby Keith and Detroit rocker Ted Nugent will kick of a series of co-headlining shows. Dates begin in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Toby will be touring in support of his Greatest Hits 2 album. The two met on a recent USO trip to Iraq, where they performed for U.S. troops. Keith and Nugent's itinerary currently includes nine concerts through February 18.