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Simpson, Lachey Confirm Separation; Elton John to Marry


As we get the news that singer Christina Aguilera recently married music executive Jordan Bratman, word also comes that pop singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey have finally confirmed their separation. The high-profile couple released a statement the day before Thanksgiving that said, "This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other. We hope that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

And speaking of unions, Elton John has announced that he'll marry his longtime partner, 43-year-old David Furnish, on December 21. Elton told Attitude magazine, "The ceremony itself will be David's parents and my parents and the two of us. They'll be our witnesses. That's the way we want to do it. They've been so fantastic to us and so supportive. Out of respect for their support, we want to just keep it small. Not to make a ballyhoo of the ceremony."

On November 29, Epic Records will release the new INXS album Switch. The collection is the group's first with new lead singer J.D. Fortune, who was chosen to join the band during the reality television show "Rock Star: INXS." INXS will kick off its "Switched On" concert tour on January 18 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Also on Epic Records' November 29 release schedule is Shakira's second album of 2005. Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 follows her Spanish-language album Fijacion Oral 1. Shakira says she had written about 60 songs, some in English, some in Spanish, and chose 20 of her favorites for her latest two albums. In other news, Shakira was among the winners at last week's American Music Awards. The Colombian singer-songwriter was named Favorite Latin Artist.

It has been nearly 25 years since legendary pop group Chicago recorded its last studio album. The band now consists of original members Robert Lamm, Walter Parazaider, Lee Loughnane and James Pankowis, plus Bill Champlin, Jason Schef, Tris Imboden and Keith Howland. Chicago recorded a new album earlier this year and reports indicate the project will be released the first part of 2006. The album, titled Thirty, was produced by Jay DeMarcus of the popular Country trio Rascal Flatts.

The Academy of Country Music is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a CBS television special, scheduled to air on December 3. The show, which was taped in Las Vegas back in May, features appearances by George Strait, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Alabama, and many other top names in Country music.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

Destiny's Child, Country star Tim McGraw, American Idol Kelly Clarkson, the Black Eyed Peas and Green Day all took home two trophies at the 33rd annual American Music Awards (AMAs) on November 22. Mariah Carey went into the race as the most nominated artist with four mentions, but won only one. She was named Favorite Female Artist in the Soul/R&B category. Other winners included Country newcomer Gretchen Wilson, Will Smith, R. Kelly, new Country trio Sugarland, Coldplay, Gwen Stefani, Brooks & Dunn, Shakira, Mary Mary, Eminem and Missy Elliott. (Complete list of winners at www.americanmusicawards.com)

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

On November 29, the Fugees will kick off a European tour in Bratislava, Slovakia. The 19-city outing will also take the reunited trio to Austria, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, England, Ireland, Belgium and Switzerland. Overseas dates wrap up on December 22 with a show in Dubai. The Fugees will have a new album out in early 2006, which will mark the group's first release in 10 years.

Pop legend Neil Diamond will promote his new album 12 Songs on a 10-date tour, which begins on December 3 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The arena tour is scheduled to wrap up on December 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 12 Songs recently debut in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart, giving Diamond his highest chart entry ever.

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