President Bush presented the 2003 National Medal of Arts honors at a ceremony in the Oval Office on November 12. This year's ten recipients of the nation's highest honor for artistic achievement include Country star George Strait, children's author Beverly Cleary, arts educator Rafe Esquith, blues great Buddy Guy, actor/director Ron Howard, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, conductor Leonard Slatkin, Tony Award-winning choreographer/dancer Tommy Tune, choreographer Suzanne Farrell and the PBS television program Austin City Limits. Medals are given annually to those who have made extraordinary contributions to the creation, growth and support of the arts in the U.S.
November 18, Epic Records will release Cyndi Lauper's new album, At Last. The 13-song collection features Lauper's interpretations of pop classics, including Unchained Melody, La Vie En Rose, Walk On By and You Really Got A Hold On Me. Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on her version of Until You Come Back To Me and Tony Bennett duets with Lauper on Makin' Whoopee.
Plans are under way for a National Music Center & Museum in Washington, D.C. The building, created by the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution and Federal City Council, will include 55,000 square feet of exhibits and two concert halls. Though not confirmed, it's been reported that the Sinatra family may donate Frank Sinatra's collection of memorabilia to the center, which is scheduled to open in 2008.
After being shut out at the recent Country Music Association Awards, Toby Keith should now be feeling much better. His new CD, Shock'n Y'all, was released the day before the awards show. First week sales reached 585,000 copies to debut at Number One on Billboard's Top 200 and Top Country Albums charts. He also holds the Number One position on the Country Singles chart for the second week with the album's debut single, " Love This Bar.
Country star Wynonna Judd was arrested for drunk driving in the early morning hours of November 13. She agreed to a Breathalyzer test, which registered her blood alcohol level at more than twice the legal limit. Judd issued a statement saying, "I know there is never a situation where drinking and driving is acceptable and I take full responsibility for my error in judgment. I had been out celebrating my upcoming wedding and a girlfriend's birthday and clearly let my excitement get the best of me. I am always thinking about the safety of others and my family and have learned a very serious lesson." Wynonna plans to marry her bodyguard D.R. Roach later this month.
The Dave Matthews Band's recent concert in New York's Central Park will be released as a 3-CD and double-disc DVD on November 18. The 20-song Central Park Concert marks the group's fifth live release. The Dave Matthews Band performed the show in September to raise millions of dollars for a New York City public school fund that supports music and arts education.
November 18, Epic Records will release the Jennifer Lopez DVD, The Reel Me. The collection includes every video Lopez has made, beginning with her first clip for If You Had My Love to her latest for Baby I Love U. Jennifer provides commentary on each of the videos. also includes a six-track bonus disc, which features a brand new R. Kelly remix of Baby I Love U. In other news, Jennifer recently announced that she'll launch her own line of lingerie and sleepwear, named JLO, in late 2004.
NEW ALBUM RELEASES / NOV. 18:
The 31st annual American Music Awards will be handed out on November 16 in Los Angeles. Nominations are based on record sales and radio airplay and winners are selected by a survey of 20,000 music listeners. Hosted by comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, the ceremony will air live on ABC-TV. Scheduled performers include: Britney Spears, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Toby Keith, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Pink, Sean Paul, Rod Stewart, Ricky Martin and Alan Jackson, among others.
LOOK WHO'S GOING ON TOUR!
Pop star Justin Timberlake will begin a European concert tour on November 16 in Ghent, Belgium. Eighteen shows are scheduled through December 21 in Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom and Ireland. After a break for the holidays, Timberlake will resume the outing in London on January 9. He'll wrap up the tour on January 25 in Manchester, England.