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Music News: Elton John Working on Broadway Play; Tribute Album to Honor Dolly Parton


Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin are writing songs for their first Broadway collaboration, The Vampire Lestat. The show is based on the first three books in Ann Rice's best-selling series, The Vampire Chronicles. The Vampire Lestat and is scheduled to open on Broadway in 2005. Elton says the show "will not be a rock opera. It has to be classically written and performed with organic instruments."

Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Willie Nelson and Linda Ronstadt are some of the artists featured on the new John Hiatt tribute album, It'll Come To You The Songs of John Hiatt. Hiatt chose 10 previously released songs for the collection. Due in record stores on May 13, it also includes three newly recorded songs by Patty Griffin, Buddy and Julie Miller and Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise. May 6, Hiatt released his latest album, Beneath This Gruff Exterior. He kicked off a tour in support of the collection on May 11.

Dolly Parton will be honored with a tribute album later this year. Just Because I'm A Woman, Celebrating the Songs of Dolly Parton will include covers of classic Parton songs performed by Shania Twain, Norah Jones, Melissa Etheridge, Alison Krauss, and others.

May 12, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf presented pianist Keith Jarrett with the 2003 Polar Music Prize. Previous winners of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music's annual honor include Elton John, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan, among others. The Academy issued a citation that said Jarrett's "musical artistry is characterized by his ability to effortlessly cross boundaries in the world of music."

The winner of USA Network's "Nashville Star" was announced on May 3. Buddy Jewell, 42, has spent the past 10 years singing demos for other singers in Nashville. His win on the talent search program earned him a recording contract with Sony Music. Country star Clint Black will produce Jewell's debut album. His first single, Help Pour the Rain (Lacey's Song), was written for his daughter. It was shipped to radio last week.

Sibling pop trio Hanson is working on its first album since 2000's This Time Around. The brothers are looking for a new record deal after asking to be released from their contract with Def Jam. 20-year-old group member Taylor Hanson claims it was an amicable split. Hanson launched its pop music career in 1997 with the Number One single Mmmbop. The trio's upcoming album is tentatively titled Underneath.

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May 14, pop/rock singer Michelle Branch will kick off a 45-date North American tour in San Francisco, California. She'll be promoting her upcoming sophomore album Hotel Paper, set for release on June 24. Branch will headline the first 14 dates, then she'll join the Dixie Chicks tour, opening concerts for the superstar trio through August 4.

Pop legend James Taylor begins a five-month North American tour on May 15 in Dallas, Texas. The 55-date trek will end on October 17 in Chula Vista, California. Taylor's latest album, October Road, was released last August. By November, it had sold more than one million copies.

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