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Neil Diamond Reveals Inspiration for Hit, 'Sweet Caroline'; Alicia Keys Scores Another Number 1 CD


For four decades, Neil Diamond has kept secret the identity of who inspired his 1966 Number One hit "Sweet Caroline." He recently performed the song via satellite at Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's 50th birthday party and decided the time was right to tell her she was the one. "It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony. It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there," Diamond said. "I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."

On November 27, Shout! Factory Records will release the various artist compilations Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary R&B and Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary Pop. The two titles are part of a 7-CD series showcasing Grammy Award winners. Five more installments will be released on January 8, including Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary Rock, Contemporary Country, Classic Country, Classic R&B and Classic Pop. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the releases will go to the MusiCares Foundation and The Grammy Foundation.

Billboard will not hold its annual awards show this year. The trade publication has announced a new partnership between its parent Nielsen Company with AEG Live to create a new awards show for 2008. Tamara Conniff, group editorial director of Billboard says, "Leveraging our considerable combined strengths, we are excited to work with AEG to launch a new Billboard Music Awards show in 2008 that takes full advantage of the benefits of our partnership."

This week, Alicia Keys becomes the third artist in SoundScan history to score four consecutive Number One debuts on the Billboard 200 chart. Keys' new CD, As I Am, sold 742,000 copies its first week of release. Other leading sellers this week include Celine Dion's Taking Chances, Josh Groban's holiday release Noel and the Now That's What I Call Music 26 compilation.

Hip-hop star Ne-Yo spent only one week on R. Kelly's tour before being removed from the lineup. According to Billboard.com, the two sides have different versions of why he was taken off the tour. "Let them [Jive Records] tell it, I was removed from the R. Kelly tour because of contractual agreements not being met, but that's absolutely false," Ne-Yo told Billboard.com. "I believe it was because the first few reviews of the show, people were talking more about my set than his and I don't think he liked that too much." R. Kelly spokesperson Allan Mayer told the Associated Press, "Ne-Yo's departure from the 'Double Up' tour was the result of a contractual issue between him and the tour promoter. R. Kelly had nothing to do with it." The tour, which also features Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday, is scheduled to wrap up in Hampton, Virginia on January 13, 2008.

On November 26, the Memphis Boys, Wrecking Crew, the Nashville A-Team, the Funk Brothers, the Blue Moon Boys and Tennessee Two will be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame. The ceremony to honor legendary studio musicians will take place at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville. Garth Brooks, Brenda Lee, Roger McGuinn, Vince Gill, Peter Frampton and Amy Grant are among the artists scheduled to appear at the event.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES

New albums scheduled for release on November 27 include: "Love Behind The Melody" by Raheem DeVaughn, "The Boatlift" by Pitbull, "Yo! Indie Rock Raps" by various artists and "Glass: Book Of Longing" by Philip Glass.


AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

Carrie Underwood was the triple winner at the 35th Annual American Music Awards. 2005's American Idol took home the trophies for Favorite Artist, Favorite Country Female Artist and Favorite Country Album for Some Hearts. Chris Daughtry, who was an American Idol finalist in 2006, also received three honors. He was named Top Breakthrough Artist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, and also won in the category of Favorite Pop/Rock Album for Daughtry. Other winners included Tim McGraw, who was named Favorite Country Male Artist; Rascal Flatts, Favorite Country Band, Duo or Group; Justin Timberlake, Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Album for FutureSex/LoveSounds; Fergie, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist; T.I., Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Male Artist; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Band, Duo or Group; Akon, Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist; Rihanna, Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist; and Beyonce, who was named Favorite International Artist.

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

On November 30, Hall & Oates will begin a two-week holiday tour in support of their album Home For Christmas. The collection of holiday standards includes two original songs, "No Child Should Ever Cry On Christmas" and the title track "Home For Christmas." The tour begins in Chicago, Illinois and wraps up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 17.

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