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Mariah's New Album Tops <i>Billboard</i> Chart; FBI Honors Country Star Toby Keith

  • Mary Morningstar

Mariah Carey's eighth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi, sold 404,000 copies its first week in record stores. The week ending April 30, the album debuts at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart. Mariah earned her last Number One debut with her 1997 album, Butterfly.

On April 26, Columbia Records will release the new album by New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen. Devils & Dust comes as a two-sided DualDisc. It features a 12-track CD on one side and a DVD of concert and video performances on the other side. The collection marks Springsteen's first new studio album since 2002's The Rising. That CD debuted at Number One and went on to sell more than two million copies in the U.S. (Also see Tours section.)

Country superstar Toby Keith got a surprise visit from special agents from the Memphis and Nashville bureaus of the F.B.I., who showed up at the April 11 CMT Music Awards. After the show ended, the agents held a backstage ceremony to honor Keith with an Exceptional Service In The Public Interest commendation, which had been signed by F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller. According to a press release, the agents "complimented Toby for his patriotism and service to the armed forces through his USO trips to Iraq and other overseas locations." Toby is scheduled to go back to Iraq in May. He'll perform on the May 17 Academy of Country Music Awards show via satellite from Baghdad. Toby will also do some American television appearances from Iraq to promote his new CD Honky Tonk University. The album will be released on May 15.

Country singer Jo Dee Messina's first new studio album in five years will be out on April 26. The Curb Records release, Delicious Surprise, includes her current Top 5 Country hit "My Give A Damn's Busted." During the past three years, Messina experienced problems in her career and personal life. Curb Records refused an album she had completed in 2003, her engagement to tour manager Don Muzquiz ended and she spent two months in an alcohol rehab center. Some of the songs on Delicious Surprise address those personal issues.

Taylor Hanson, 22, of the pop/rock trio Hanson is a father for the second time. His wife, Natalie, gave birth to daughter Penelope last Tuesday April 19. Penelope joins older brother Jordan, who will turn three-years-old in October. Hanson wrapped up a European concert tour on April 13 and is scheduled to begin Australian dates on May 24. The trio is promoting its 2004 album, Underneath.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS:

The 2005 MerleFest will take place April 28 through May 1 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Appearing at this year's event are Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Allison Moorer, Earl Scruggs, and many others. In addition to numerous concerts, the four-day festival offers food, shopping, kids activities and arts and craft booths.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS:

The 5th annual Jammy Awards will take place at New York's Madison Square Garden on April 26. The Jammys were first held in 2000 to honor the best in live improvisational music performance. They bring together up-and-coming artists with stars from pop, rock, reggae, gospel and jazz. Performers at this year's ceremony will include Ryan Adams, Buddy Guy, Bruce Hornsby, Travis Tritt and Sinead O'Connor, who will make her first New York City appearance in five years. O'Connor is currently working on an album of reggae cover songs, which is due out later this year.

On April 28, the 2005 Billboard Latin Music Awards will be held in Miami, Florida. Leading the nominees is Mexican star Marco Antonio Solis, who earned eight mentions. Other top contenders include Latin pop singers Paulina Rubio and Juanes, with five nominations each. The Billboard Latin Music Awards honor the most popular albums, songs and artists in Latin music, as determined by record sales and radio airplay. That data is also used in compiling Billboard's weekly charts. (A complete list of nominees is available at www.billboardevents.com.)

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION:

On April 25, Bruce Springsteen will begin a 14-date solo acoustic tour in Detroit, Michigan. The outing will support his new album Devils & Dust (see Music News section). After wrapping up the first North American leg on May 20, he'll head overseas for a month-long trek through Europe.

Lisa Marie Presley will kick off a U.S. tour on April 26 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Presley's second album, Now What, was released on April 5. Its first single is her cover of Don Henley's 1983 hit "Dirty Laundry.

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