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Michael Jackson Fires Business Manager, Accountants; Justin Timberlake Hits Fans with New Single


Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson has announced that he's leaving the vocal group. The 33-year-old said, "It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life." The Backstreet Boys have sold more than 35 million albums in the U.S. since 1997.

Michael Jackson has fired his business manager and accountants and promoted his publicist Raymone Bain to general manager of his Michael Jackson Co. Bain says, "I report directly to him and I am (the) personal liaison between him and his business entities. I'll be the glue to hold things together for him." A New York firm has been hired to handle his financial affairs. Bain also announced that Michael is moving to Europe and plans to release a new album in 2007.

On July 4, Lost Highway Records released the final album Johnny Cash recorded before his death. American V: A Hundred Highways includes songs written by Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams and Rod McKuen, among others. Cash wrote two songs for the collection, "Like the 309" and "I Came To Believe." Producer Rick Rubin says, "I think that American V may be my favorite of all of the albums in the American series. It's different from the others. It has a much different character. I think that this is as strong an album as Johnny ever made." Cash and Rubin began working on the album in 2002. Johnny died in September of 2003.

The Who's July 2 live concert in London's Hyde Park was sold as a 99-cent download at www.thewholive.tv. The group will donate proceeds to several charities, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research, the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which works with underprivileged children.

The first single from Justin Timberlake's second solo album was shipped to radio on July 7. The track, called "SexyBack," was co-written by Timberlake. His upcoming album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, will be released on September 12.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS

On July 5, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill performed a benefit concert in New Orleans as part of their "Soul2Soul II" tour. All proceeds will go to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Half of the New Orleans Arena's floor seats will be distributed to local volunteers who have worked to rebuild the area since Katrina struck. Tim and Faith, who are from Louisiana and Mississippi respectively, released a statement that said, "We will not stop, we will not forget, we will not quit until we see our friends, our families and our neighbors returned to the lives that they once knew. We hope to give everyone who comes out a few hours to just enjoy." The benefit show's 17-thousands tickets sold out within 30 minutes.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx and Kanye West were all double winners at the 6th annual BET Awards, which were handed out Tuesday June 27 in Los Angeles. Blige was named Best Female R&B Artist and her "Be Without You" video shared a win in the Video of the Year category with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx's "Gold Digger" clip. Kanye and Jamie also won the Best Duet/Collaboration category for "Gold Digger." Newcomer Chris Brown took home the trophy for Best New Artist and he also received this year's Viewers' Choice Award. Other winners included Prince, Kirk Franklin, the Black Eyed Peas, T.I. and Missy Elliott.

Nominations for Billboard's 7th annual R&B/Hip-Hop Awards have been announced. Leading this year's contenders is Jamie Foxx, who earned mentions in eight categories. Four of his nominations are for collaborations with Kanye West ("Gold Digger") and Ludacris ("Unpredictable"). Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige received seven nominations each, including Album of the Year. The R&B/Hip-Hop Awards are based on sales and radio airplay. This year's ceremony will take place on September 8 in Atlanta, Georgia.

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

On July 6, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young began their "Freedom of Speech '06" tour in Camden, New Jersey. The outing marks their first together since 2002. More than 30 North American dates are scheduled through mid-September.

Steely Dan and Michael McDonald kicked off a co-headlining tour on July 7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They began the shows with their own sets, then McDonald joined Steely Dan on a few songs. McDonald played keyboards for the group throughout the 1970s.

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