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'American Idol' Field Narrowed to Three; Year-Long Celebration Planned for Grammys' 50th Anniversary


Lakisha Jones was the latest contestant to be voted off American Idol. The 27-year-old from Fort Meade, Maryland was eliminated on May 9, leaving three remaining hopefuls. This week, one more will be sent home, 17-year-old Jordin Sparks, 25-year-old Blake Lewis or 29-year-old Melinda Doolittle.

In other American Idol news, producers are developing another reality show, called The Search For The Next Great American Band. Bands of any age group and genre can audition. Judges will choose ten semi-finalists for the live television show, then viewers will vote for their favorites. Like American Idol, the bands will have to show their diversity during the program's weekly musical themes. No dates have been set, but applications are available at http://www.americanidol.com.

The National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences has announced plans for a yearlong celebration of the 50th annual Grammy Awards. Many special events will take place through 2008. They include the September 2008 opening of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles; a commemorative book, which will go on sale in October at Borders stores; and a Grammy clothing line to benefit the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares. This year's Grammy nominations will be announced on December 6. The awards show is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on February 10, 2008.

On May 15, Stone City Records will release Rick James' final studio album, Deeper Still. James wrote its tracks during the last two years of his life. He died of a heart attack on August 6, 2004. At the time of his death, James was also working on his autobiography, Memoirs Of A Super Freak, which was released last month. Sheldon Turner is reportedly writing a movie about the funk singer's life. Super Freak is scheduled to be in theaters in 2008.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES:

New albums scheduled for release on May 15 include: One of the Boys by Gretchen Wilson, Minutes To Midnight by Linkin Park, United Abominations by Megadeth, Are You Listening by Doloris O'Riordan, Naughty, Bawdy & Blue by Maria Muldaur and the original motion picture soundtrack to Shrek The Third.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS:

Radio station Z100 in Long Island, New York will hold its 2007 "Zootopia" concert event at Nassau Coliseum on May 18. This year's headliners include Fergie, Maroon 5, Daughtry, Hilary Duff, Rihanna and Robin Thicke.

On May 19, the inaugural Rock on the Range Festival will take place in Columbus, Ohio. Performers include Evanescence, ZZ Top, Hinder, Papa Roach, and many others.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS:

Harpist Charlie Musselwhite led the winners at the Blues Foundation's 2007 Blues Music Awards, which were handed out on May 10 in Memphis, Tennessee. His four awards included Blues Album of the Year for Delta Hardware. Irma Thomas and Tab Benoit were also multiple winners. Thomas was named Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year and she also won the Soul Blues Album of the Year trophy for After the Rain. Benoit won the Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year awards. Complete list of winners at http://www.blues.org.

On May 15, the 42nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be presented in Las Vegas, Nevada. George Strait received a leading eight nominations, including Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year. Other top contenders include Brooks & Dunn with seven mentions, Rascal Flatts with six, Carrie Underwood with five and Big & Rich with four nominations. Brooks & Dunn will receive the 2007 Academy of Country Music/Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Full list of ACM nominees at http://www.acmcountry.com.

On May 15, publishing rights organization BMI will honor the Bee Gees with an Icon Award. The Icon Award recognizes songwriters for "their unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers." Barry and Robin Gibb retired the Bee Gees moniker following the 2003 death of Robin's twin brother Maurice.

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION:

Country singer Gretchen Wilson kicked off a North American summer tour May 13 with a free concert in Las Vegas. 31 more shows are on her itinerary through late September. She'll be supporting her new album One of the Boys, which hits records stores on May 15.

Singer Elliott Yamin will promote his self-titled debut album with a month of U.S. concerts, which begin on May 15 in Atlanta, Georgia. The season five American Idol finalist recently entered Billboard's Top 200 chart at Number 3, making him the highest new artist debut on an independent label. Yamin will wrap up shows on June 15 in San Diego, California.

On May 18, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters will begin his second North American "Dark Side of the Moon" tour in West Palm Beach, Florida. Waters staged the same outing last summer. During the shows, he and his band will perform the entire Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon album, as well as songs from Wish You Were Here, The Wall and Animals. Twenty-six concerts are scheduled through mid-July.

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