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Music News:  R&B Artists Team Up to Get Out the Vote; Alicia Keys to Perform in China - 2004-07-21

A British tourist vacationing near Melbourne, Australia bought a suitcase at a flea market for $36. Inside, 41-year-old Fraser Claughton found a cache of priceless Beatles memorabilia that included a four-and-a-half-hour reel-to-reel tape containing previously unrecorded tracks by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, hundreds of photographs, books, magazines and various documents. Fraser says, "It's like finding the end of the rainbow in Australia." After experts verify their authenticity, he plans to sell the items via the Internet.

In an effort to get more people to vote, some of today's top recording stars are making a new version of the 1960s rhythm-and-blues classic "Wake Up Everybody." Producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, who set up recording sessions in New York and Los Angeles last week, is leading the initiative. The song will feature the voices of Ashanti, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, the Backstreet Boys, Monica, Wyclef Jean, and others. Edmonds says, "We're trying to push people to vote. It's not a partisan thing." The single is scheduled for release in August. Proceeds will go to the America Coming Together organization.

Singer-pianist Alicia Keys has announced that she'll perform at the Great Wall of China on September 25. Keys' appearance is part of the first international pop music festival ever staged at the Wall. The invitation-only event, dubbed "Wall of Hope China 2004," will benefit the Child Children and Teenagers' Fund. More performers will be announced soon.


Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, Lonestar and Lynyrd Skynyrd are among the stars headlining this year's Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. The 12th annual event takes place July 22-25 and features camping, concerts and a charity auction. Items for the auction were donated by a number of corporate sponsors.


Nominations for the 56th annual Primetime Emmy Awards have been announced. Paul McCartney leads the musical categories with five nominations for his A&E In Concert: Paul McCartney In Red Square television special. Sting's A&E special earned four mentions. Following close behind with three nods is FOX-TV's popular talent competition American Idol. Double nominees include the PBS specials Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues and Great Performances: Harry Connick Jr.: 'Only You' In Concert, and CBS' 46th annual Grammy Awards telecast. This year's Primetime Emmy Awards will be presented on September 19 in Los Angeles. The show will air live on ABC-TV.

The fifth annual Latin Grammy Awards will be handed out on September 1 in Los Angeles. Brazilian producer Tom Capone leads the contenders with five nominations, followed by Brazilian recording engineer Alvaro Alencar, Cuban pianist Bebo Valdez, Spain's Alejandro Sanz and Brazilian singer Maria Rita, with four apiece. For the second year, comedian George Lopez will host the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony.


July 18, 23-year-old singer Josh Groban began a summer concert tour in St. Louis, Missouri. He is promoting his latest CD Closer in 31 North American cities through September 5. Closer has sold more than three million copies since its release last November.

1980s rock band Heart will kick off a U.S. tour on July 22 in Redmond, Washington. Led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, the group will perform 48 shows through September 24, when the tour wraps up at Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall. Last month, Heart released the new studio collection Jupiter's Darling. It marks the band's first album in more than 10 years.

This week, Cher continues her "Farewell Tour" with a new round of North American dates that begin in Calgary, Alberta. Her 34-date itinerary wraps up in Estero, Florida on September 28.

Country star Toby Keith will kick off his "Big Throwdown Tour" on July 24 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The outing is in support of Toby's latest CD Shock 'N Ya'll, which is nearing the four million mark in sales. Canadian Country singer Terri Clark and Toby's frequent songwriting partner Scotty Emerick will open shows on the 80-city tour.

Willie Nelson will join Bob Dylan for a 22-city concert tour, scheduled to begin on August 6 in Cooperstown, New York. "The Bob Dylan Show" will mark their first concert tour together. Concerts will take place at Minor League baseball stadiums throughout the country. Dates are scheduled to wrap up in Kansas City on September 4.

Best Buy has secured an exclusive deal to release Elton John's DVD boxed set Dream Ticket Four Destinations: Four DVDs. Set for release in mid-November, the collection will include more than 70 songs, concert footage, photos and interviews. Last year, Best Buy had exclusive deals to sell the Rolling Stones' DVD Four Flicks and the Beatles' DVD boxed set Anthology. In other news, Elton will begin a 13-night engagement at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas this week. Shows begin on July 23 and end on August 8. His next round of 15 concerts will take place at The Colosseum October 12-31.

Pollstar has released its analysis of the first half of the year's tour season. It states that gross revenue of the top 50 tours is up 11 percent, but the number of tickets sold is down two percent. Ticket prices jumped nearly 13 percent. Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, says, "Any industry that sells fewer products, in this case tickets, can't be healthy." The top grossing tour so far this year is David Bowie's "Reality Tour." It's brought in $45.4 million from 82 concerts. Other leading treks for the first half of 2004 included Bette Midler, whose tour grossed $40 million; Simon & Garfunkel, $36 million; Shania Twain, $34 million; Prince, $26 million; and Rod Stewart, whose shows brought in $25 million.