On May 5, Willie Nelson will host his third "Willie Nelson & Friends" concert. The show will take place at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Cable television's USA Network will tape the event for a Memorial Day special broadcast on May 31. Lucinda Williams, the Holmes Brothers and Toots & the Maytals' Toots Hibbert will join Willie at his May 5 "One More For The Road" concert. Nelson's first special, "Willie Nelson & Friends: Stars & Guitars," took place in Nashville in 2002. Last year, he celebrated his 70th birthday with "Willie Nelson & Friends: Live & Kickin'," which was held in New York. Both concerts were released on CD.
The first new album in four years by rhythm-and-blues diva Patti LaBelle hit record stores on May 4. The 13-track CD, titled Timeless Journey, is her first release for Def Soul Classics. She previously recorded for MCA Records, which folded in 2003. Her 2004 concert itinerary includes appearances at several major jazz festivals in the U.S. and abroad.
On May 2, the Front Porch Country Band arrived in Beijing, China to begin a series of concerts. Jiali Zhu, Supervisor of Art and Culture Exchange Department of U.S.-China Foundation (USCF), which invited the group, says, "Country music is a symbol of U.S. culture. It's very popular in China." The Front Porch Country Band will perform songs from their latest album Somebody Tonight and will preview material from its upcoming CD, due out later this year. The group also plans to play a tribute song from American Standing Tall The American Trilogy, which was released one week after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In addition to its performance in Beijing, the band will visit Shanghai and Ning Bo. USCF may add other stops before the group ends its tour on May 17.
A former member of the Pointer Sisters was arrested on April 26 and charged with cocaine possession. June Pointer Whitmore, 50, has a history of substance abuse problems. A few years ago, her older sisters, Ruth and Anita, obtained a court order barring June from the group, and gained rights to the Pointer Sisters name. Ruth's daughter Issa took June's place in the trio.
May 4, Island Records released Lionel Richie's new CD, Just For You. The collection was recorded in London, Miami, Los Angeles and New York and is described as his "broadest-reaching effort to date." Lenny Kravitz appears on two of the tracks.
Image Entertainment released the Jimi Hendrix tribute album Power of Soul on May 4. The CD features tracks by Sting; Santana; Earth, Wind & Fire; Chaka Khan with Kenny Olson; Eric Clapton; Stevie Ray Vaughan; Prince; George Clinton and Bootsy Collins; and others. A portion of the proceeds will go to the United Negro College Fund.
NEW ALBUM RELEASES / MAY 4:
On May 6, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will hold a fundraiser in Brentwood, California. "Earth To L.A.! The Greatest Show on the Earth" will feature performances by Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson. Motion picture star Tom Hanks will serve as the evening's Master of Ceremonies, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, Jack Black and Will Ferrell are also scheduled to appear. The NRDC works to safeguard the Earth's natural resources.
Jay-Z and his girlfriend Beyoncé Knowles will headline the Prince's Trust Urban Music Festival. The two-day event takes place in London on May 8 and 9. Alicia Keys is also on the bill. Forty-thousand music fans are expected to attend the festival and live radio shows will be broadcast from the event and backstage. Prince Charles has invited Beyoncé and Jay-Z to a dinner at Buckingham Palace following their appearance. The Prince of Wales founded Prince's Trust in 1976. It works to provide training, mentoring and financial assistance to 14 - 30-year-olds who have struggled in school, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. To date, the organization has helped nearly 500,000 young people.
Word of God Speak won the Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year honors at the 35th Annual Dove Awards, presented by the Gospel Music Association in Nashville on April 28. It also brought Mercy Me wins in the Group of the Year and Artist of the Year categories. The track appears on Mercy Me's album Spoken For. Stacie Orrico was named Female Vocalist of the Year and also won the Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year trophy for her self-titled collection and the Short Form Music Video of the Year award for (There's Gotta Be) More To Life. Switchfoot also won in three categories. Double winners included Randy Travis, CeCe Winans, Third Day, Jeremy Camp, Michael Tait and the Crabb Family.
Buddy Guy was the big winner at the 2004 W.C. Handy Blues Awards. He received trophies for Contemporary Blues Male Artist of the Year, as well as Blues Album of the Year and Acoustic Blues Album of the Year for his collection, "Blues Singer." B.B. King took home the night's top honor, Entertainer of the Year. Other winners included Roomful of Blues, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Marcia Ball, Pinetop Perkins and Koko Taylor. The awards were presented on April 29 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Full list of winners at www.blues.org.)
Latin pop star Ricky Martin, the late "Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz and Colombian singer Juanes led the winners at the 2004 Billboard Latin Music Awards on April 29. Cruz was named Latin Album Artist of the Year and was honored for her collection Regalo del Alma in the Latin Greatest Hits Album and Tropical Album of the Year categories. Juanes and Martin also won three awards. Popular newcomer Thalia went into the race with four nominations, but was shut out. Special honors were presented to Mexican group Banda El Recodo, which received Billboard's Hall of Fame Award and Colombian-American singer-songwriter Soraya, who earned the Spirit of Hope Award for her humanitarian efforts in the Hispanic community. (Full list of winners at www.billboardevents.com.)
LOOK WHO'S GOING ON TOUR!
American roots music will be showcased on the Great High Mountain Tour, which begins on May 5 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Headliners include Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ralph Stanley, Norman & Nancy Blake, the Cox Family and the Whites. Twenty-four shows are scheduled through June 14.
Cher will begin a European concert tour on May 8. The 28-date outing starts off in Dublin, Ireland and wraps up on June 30 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The singer's 2003 "Farewell Tour" was the third biggest ticket seller of the year. Last August, Warner Brothers Records released performances from the trek on Live The Farewell Tour. Cher's latest studio album was 2002's Living Proof.
On May 8, Fleetwood Mac will kick off a North American tour in Madison, Wisconsin. It's the band's second swing through the U.S. and Canada in support of the CD, Say You Will. The 36-city tour is currently scheduled to end on July 14 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.