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Spice Girls Launch World Tour; Billy Joel's New Single Honors US Troops


On December 2, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts held a gala for its 2007 Honorees. Receiving Kennedy Center Honors this year were pianist Leon Fleisher, singer Diana Ross, the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, director Martin Scorsese and actor Steve Martin. Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman released a statement that said: "With their extraordinary talent, creativity, and perseverance, the five 2007 Honorees have transformed the way we, as Americans, see, hear, and feel the performing arts. We will forever be thankful for the great gift they have shared with us." CBS-TV will air the tribute as a two-hour special on December 26.

Billy Joel has written a song to benefit Homes for Our Troops, which provides specially adapted homes for severely wounded service members of the U.S. military. "Christmas In Fallujah" was recorded by 21-year-old Long Island native Cass Dillon. Joel says, "I knew I wasn't the person to sing it. I've already had my day in the sun, and to be honest, I'm not a big fan of my own voice." "Christmas In Fallujah" is available exclusively at www.iTunes.com.

Mariah Carey's "Adventures of Mimi" tour will be released as a double-DVD on December 4. The DVD is being sold in the U.S. exclusively at Best Buy stores. In addition to performances of songs from her latest album The Emancipation of Mimi and some early hits, the set includes behind-the-scenes tour footage and a short film starring Mariah, called Lovers & Haters, which was directed by Spike Lee.

British singer Paul Rodgers told Billboard.com that he has recorded a new single with legendary rock band Queen. "Say It's Not True" was released to commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1. The song marks Queen's first studio collaboration with Rodgers, who has occasionally toured with the band. "Say It's Not True" is available as a free download on Queen's web site. Drummer Roger Taylor says, "By making the song available for free, we hope to help Nelson Mandela with his campaign to get across the message that no one is safe from infection. We have to be aware, we have to protect ourselves and those we love." Rodgers also revealed that he's working on a new album with Queen. It's due out next year.

Janet Jackson is working on a new album, which will be released in February. In other Jackson family news, Janet's brother Michael will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Thriller album with a new CD/DVD release. Due out on February 12, the set will feature rare demos and outtakes, plus some remixes and unreleased tracks. The DVD will include the videos to "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller," as well as footage from live performances. And, brother Jermaine Jackson reportedly told BBC Radio that he expects a Jackson 5 reunion tour to take place in 2008. He said the outing will most likely begin in the U.K.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES

New albums scheduled for release on December 4 include: "Sweet Soul Odyssey" by Mariah Carey, "Carnival II (Memoirs of an Immigrant)" by Wyclef Jean, "Audio Daydream" by Blake Lewis, "The Big Doe Rehab" by Ghostface, "Get Off the Stage" by Too Short, "Night To Remember" by Johnny Mathis and "Way Back Home: Live From New York City" by The Wreckers.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS

On December 2, the "Movies Rock" concert took place at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. Carrie Underwood, Beyonce, Elton John, Fergie, John Legend, Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Hudson sang songs from classic films at the event. Proceeds will go to the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which works to raise awareness and funds for health, educational and social issues. CBS-TV will air the concert as a two-hour special on December 7.


TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

The Spice Girls kicked off their much-anticipated reunion tour on December 2 in Vancouver. The world tour begins with 10 North American concerts. On December 15, the Spice Girls will head to Europe for 17 shows at London's O2 Arena, plus stops in Germany, Spain and Manchester, England. They'll return to the U.S. on January 30. Dates currently run through February 16, but more concerts are being added in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa; Beijing and Shanghai, China; Hong Kong; and Sydney, Australia.

On December 3, Country singer Todd Fritsch and his band Stampede will begin a three-week military base tour. They'll stop at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Soto Cano in Honduras, and Curacao and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Todd says, "It's a great way to end this year, entertaining our troops in the Caribbean. I can't wait to meet the soldiers and thank them personally for their service to our country." He'll deliver holiday cards to the soldiers that were made by students at seven schools in Texas.

Hip-hop newcomer Chris Brown will begin a 5-week, 24-date tour on December 6 to support his new album, Exclusive. The outing launches in Cincinnati, Ohio and wraps up in Dallas, Texas on January 13. The album's first single, "Kiss Kiss," reached Number One on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

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