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Sparks, Lewis to Face Off in 'American Idol' Finale; Underwood Among Big Winners at Academy of Music Awards


Jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins and composer Steve Reich receive the 2007 Polar Music Prize on May 21. His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will hand out the prize at a gala ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The late Stig "Stikkan" Anderson, lyricist and manager of the Swedish pop group ABBA, founded the Polar Music Prize in 1989. Previous recipients include Elton John, Paul McCartney, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder, among others. Polar Music Prize winners receive one million Swedish krona, which is equivalent to about $148,000 U.S. dollars.

On May 22, A&M/Octone Records will release Maroon 5's new album It Won't Be Soon Before Long. The album includes the band's recent Number One single "Makes Me Wonder," which set a new record for the biggest single-week jump to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Fueled my sales of more than 243,000 digital downloads, the song rocketed from Number 64 to Number One. Maroon 5's last album, 2002's Songs About Jane, sold more than four million copies in the U.S.

Ozzy Osbourne's first new studio album in six years will be released on May 22. The songs on "Black Rain" were inspired by current events. Osbourne says, "Haven't we all learned that violence achieves nothing? I'm a worrier. I'm a sponge for bad news. And it's going to come out in my songs." On May 27, Osbourne will be in Moscow to play the first of 17 international concerts. He'll wrap up his overseas shows on June 30 in Milan, Italy. His 2007 OzzFest, which is free to the public this year, begins on July 12 in Auburn, Washington.

On May 23, singer-songwriter Paul Simon will receive the inaugural Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The prize recognizes "the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world's culture." A diverse group of artists will perform at the event, which takes place at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C. They include Art Garfunkel, James Taylor, Marc Anthony, Stephen Marley, Alison Krauss, Buckwheat Zydeco and Yolanda Adams, among others. The show will be taped for a PBS special to air on June 27.

One of this year's American Idol contestants never made it past the audition round due to the show's age limit. He's 64-year-old Sherman Pore. At his tryout in Los Angeles, Sherman told the judges he was there to honor his "lady love," Melissa, who died of ovarian cancer two days earlier. Sherman says, "As far back as I can remember, people have been telling me I should do something with my singing. But, there is no way, no way on earth, I could have done it if it weren't for Melissa. She convinced me I was good enough." On May 22, Z-Entertainment will release Sherman's debut album, "For My Lady Love." The collection of classic love songs includes his versions of "Unforgettable," "When I Fall In Love" and "The Way You Look Tonight." He'll donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of the album to City Of Hope, which works to fight cancer. In related news, there's currently an online petition to bring Sherman back for the "American Idol" finale on May 23.

Speaking of the American Idol finale, 17-year-old Jordin Sparks and 25-year-old Blake Lewis will battle it out for the 6th annual title. After viewers cast some 60 million votes, 29-year-old former backup singer Melinda Doolittle was sent home on May 16.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES

New albums scheduled for release on May 22 include: "Delles" by Celine Dion, "Breakfast In Bed" by Joan Osborne, "Hip Hop Lives" by KRS-One, "Lies For The Liars" by The Used and "Light At The End Of The World" by Erasure.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS

The 30th annual Atlanta Jazz Festival will take place May 26-28. This year's headliners include Herbie Hancock, Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, Flora Purim & Airto Moreira, The Pete Escovedo Orchestra and Monty Alexander. The festival is regarded as one of the largest free jazz events in the U.S.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

Carrie Underwood, George Strait and Brooks & Dunn led the winners at the 42nd annual Academy of Music (ACM) Awards. Carrie was named Top Female Vocalist and also took home the Album of the Year award for her debut release, "Some Hearts." The clip to its hit single "Before He Cheats" won for Video of the Year. George Strait, who went into the race with a leading eight nominations, received this year's Song of the Year and Single Records of the Year honors for "Give It Away." Brooks & Dunn won their 14th Top Vocal Duo ACM award and shared the Vocal Event of the Year trophy with Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill for "Building Bridges." Brooks & Dunn also received the Home Depot Humanitarian Award. The duo will have two children's playgrounds built in their honor. Other winners at the May 15th ceremony included Rascal Flatts (Top Vocal Group), Miranda Lambert (Top New Female Vocalist), Rodney Atkins (Top New Male Vocalist), Little Big Town (Top New Vocal Group) and Kenny Chesney, who won the ACM's Entertainer of the Year award for the third straight year.

Beyonce Knowles leads the contenders for the 2007 BET Awards. Her six nominations include Top Female R&B Artist and Viewer's Choice Award. She also earned two nominations in the Best Collaboration category for "Déjà Vu" and "Upgrade U," her duets with boyfriend Jay-Z. And, Beyonce is mentioned twice in the Video of the Year category for "Irreplaceable" and "Beautiful Liar." Jennifer Hudson, Ciara, Akon and Gnarls Barkley earned three nods each. Double nominees include Robin Thicke, Ludacris, Diddy, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, the late Gerald Levert, Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, Mary Mary and Corinne Bailey Rae. Singing legend Diana Ross will receive BET's Lifetime Achievement Award. The 2007 BET Awards will be presented on June 26th in Los Angeles.

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

This week, 2006 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood will kick off her North American summer tour with two shows in Atlantic City (May 25 & 26). The Country star's debut album, Some Hearts, has sold nearly 5.5 million copies. Her label reports that her second album will be released later this year.

On May 26, British rock singer Peter Frampton will begin a summer tour in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He'll perform in more than 50 cities in support of his 2006 album Fingerprints. The album is his first-ever all-instrumental release. Earlier this year, Frampton won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.

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