This week's American Idol shows will benefit several charities. Dubbed American Idol - Idol Gives Back, the April 24 competition will feature the six finalists singing songs that deal with hope and compassion. Corporate sponsors will donate money for each vote cast. A special 2-hour results show on April 25 will include performances by many musical stars, including Gwen Stefani, Pink, Josh Groban, Rascal Flatts, Michael Buble, Il Divo and U2's Bono. Idol Gives Back will donate the money raised to U.S. and African charities that include the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the Global Fund, Save the Children, Nothing But Nets and Malaria No More.
Singer Sheryl Crow was in Washington, D.C. on April 22 to perform on the final stop of the two-week "Stop Global Warming Virtual March and College Tour." The Earth Day event took place at George Washington University. Also on the bill are Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Carole King.
On April 22, Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd, The Crickets, John Hiatt, Michael W. Smith and music executive Frances Preston were inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville. The Music City Walk of Fame held its inaugural inductions last year. The 2006 inductees included Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, Roy Orbison, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and Nashville Symphony music director Kenneth D. Schermerhorn.
On April 24, Nonesuch Records will release A Tribute To Joni Mitchell. Twelve artists lended their voices to the project, which features new takes on Mitchell's songs. They include James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan, Prince, Cassandra Wilson and Emmylou Harris.
Whitney Houston's divorce from Bobby Brown is official on April 24. Earlier this month, a California judge granted the divorce and gave custody of their daughter, 14-year-old Bobbi Kristina, to Whitney. Bobby and Whitney married on July 18, 1992. Their troubled marriage was full of scandals that included drug and alcohol arrests and physical abuse.
NEW ALBUM RELEASES
New albums scheduled for release on April 24 include: "Love Songs of the 1970s" by Donny Osmond, "Stay" by Simply Red, "Ain't Nothin' Like Me" by Joe, "Twelve" by Patti Smith and "Love Niecy Style" by Deniece Williams.
This week, Country stars Steve Holy, Craig Morgan and Neal McCoy will join Blake Shelton for his 2nd annual "Raindance" charity event in Ada, Oklahoma. The three-day benefit will be held April 22-24. In addition to a concert, the event will include an archery tournament, team roping competition and auction. Proceeds will aid victims of natural disasters in 28 Oklahoma counties.
The 20th annual MerleFest will take place April 26-29 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest is one of the largest Americana music festivals in the country. This year's lineup includes performances by Doc Watson, Elvis Costello, Bela Fleck, Cherryholmes, the Del McCoury Band, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and many others. XM Radio will carry the festival on two channels, XCountry and Bluegrass Junction.
On April 27, the 38th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will get under way. More than 500 acts will perform at this year's event. Headliners include John Mayer, Norah Jones, Rod Stewart, John Legend and Brad Paisley, as well as local favorites Dr. John, Harry Connick, Jr. and Allen Toussaint. The festival will take place over two weekends, April 27-29 and May 4-6.
Carrie Underwood led the winners at the 2007 CMT Music Awards. The 2006 American Idol won the Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year trophies for her clip to "Before He Cheats." Other winners included Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Jack Ingram and Sugarland.
The Gospel Music Association will hold its 38th annual Dove Awards on April 25 at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House. Chris Tomlin, who was named Artist of the Year at last year's Dove Awards ceremony, leads this year's nominees with a total of nine mentions. Jars of Clay received six nominations and newcomer Aaron Shust and The Crabb Family earned five each. Casting Crowns, Stellar Kart, Leeland and The Crabb Family all received four nominations. One new category was added this year, Christmas Album of the Year. Dove Awards will be handed out in 43 categories.
On April 26, the 2007 Billboard Latin Music Awards will be presented in Miami, Florida. The new reggaeton duo Rakim and Ken-Y lead the contenders with seven nominations. They include Reggaeton Album of the Year for Masterpiece: Nuestra Obra Maestra, and Hot Latin Song of the Year and Reggaeton Song of the Year for "Down." Other multiple nominees include Mariano Barba, La India, Shakira, Mana, RBD, Fonseca, Joan Sebastian, Wisin & Yandel and Aventura. The ceremony will air live on the Telemundo network.
TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION
Country star Brad Paisley kicks off his "Bonfires & Amplifiers" tour in Chattanooga, Tennessee on April 26. Jack Ingram, "American Idol" finalist Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift will open shows. Brad's next album, 5th Gear, will be released on June 19.
On April 27, British singer Joss Stone will begin a North American tour in Mashantucket, Connecticut. She'll be supporting her new album "Introducing Joss Stone," which debuted at Number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. That's the highest debut by a British female artist in the Soundscan era. The 19-year-old singer says her new release is "the first album that is truly me." She adds, "These are my words, and this is who I am as an artist."
Country legend Charlie Daniels and his band will kick off their "Volunteer Jam Tour" on April 28 in Valdosta, Georgia. Southern rock groups The Outlaws and the Marshall Tucker Band will join Charlie on the tour. Concerts are scheduled to run through late July.