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Houston's Final Recordings Drop; Lady Gaga Lands Movie Part

  • Mary Morningstar

Musician Whitney Houston arrives at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball benefiting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Beverly Hills, California Oct. 28, 2006.

Musician Whitney Houston arrives at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball benefiting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Beverly Hills, California Oct. 28, 2006.

Whitney Houston’s final two recordings are featured on the soundtrack to Sparkle, which will be released on July 31. The album’s first single, “Celebrate,” is a duet Houston sang with co-star Jordin Sparks. Also included is Whitney’s version of the gospel standard “His Eye Is On the Sparrow.” Sparkle is a remake of the 1976 film, which starred Irene Cara. The new version hits theaters nationwide on August 17.

Lady Gaga to Make Film Debut

In this May 16, 2012, file photo, Lady Gaga arrives at the Sungshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan.

In this May 16, 2012, file photo, Lady Gaga arrives at the Sungshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan.

Lady Gaga will make her motion picture debut in the upcoming film, Machete Kills. The movie is the second in director Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete” trilogy. Lady Gaga is cast to play the role of La Chameleon. Co-stars include Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Sofia Vergara and Cuba Gooding, Jr., among others. The film will open in 2013.

Love Recuperating After Heart Attack

Singer Darlene Love is recuperating at home after suffering a mild heart attack on July 21. Reports say that the 71-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member experienced symptoms prior to a performance in New Jersey. When pain increased the following day, she sought treatment at a hospital.

“We caught it before it got bad and I went in and had the procedure done," Love told New York’s WCBS-FM. I’m home and doing fine. They told me I'd be fine in a couple of days. I can go back to my regular routine.”

Nas Tops Billboard 200

In chart news this week, hip-hop star Nas opens at Number One on the Billboard 200 with his new album, Life Is Good. The set sold 149,000 copies its first week of release to become his sixth chart-topper on that chart. Also entering inside the Top 10 are Kids Bop 22 by Kidz Bop Kids and the original motion picture soundtrack to Dark Knight Rises.

Colins Enjoys Billboard Surge Thanks to

An 99 cent sale of veteran rocker Phil Collins’ 1998 Hits compilation gives the album its first appearance in the Top 10 on this week’s Billboard 200. Hits re-enters the list at Number 6. The 99 cent deal also gave several other albums huge chart advances. Bruno Mars’ Doo-Wops & Hooligans rockets from Number 135 to Number 11, Shinedown’s Amaryllis vaults from Number 108 to Number 24 and Demi Lovato’s Unbroken jumps from Number 124 to Number 27.

One Direction Sells 1 Million Records

Members of British-Irish band One Direction pose after performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York March 12, 2012.

Members of British-Irish band One Direction pose after performing on NBC's "Today" show in New York March 12, 2012.

British boy band One Direction has the first million-selling album released in 2012 with Up All Night. Rounding out the top five highest-selling releases so far this year are Tuskegee by Lionel Richie, Now That’s What I Call Music! 41 by various artists, Believe by Justin Bieber and “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood.

Mariah Carey Lands New American Idol Judging Gig

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

Pop star Mariah Carey has been named as the first replacement on the American Idol judging panel, which recently lost Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Mariah will reportedly make $18 million per season. “I am so excited to be joining Idol. I can’t wait to get started,” she said.

A change in the audition process has also been announced. Potential contestants can be nominated by family and friends without their knowledge. Those chosen to move forward in the competition will be surprised by a film crew. In addition, the show is helping singers who couldn’t afford to travel to the big city auditions by opening online auditions from August 1-14. Also in August, a mobile search by the American Idol Small Town Audition Bus Tour will stop in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Billings, Montana; Casper, Wyoming; Rock Rapids, Iowa; Iowa City, IA; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Joplin, Missouri; Dodge City, Kansas; and Grand Junction, Colorado.

New Album Releases / July 31:

“Thousand Miles Left Behind” by Gloriana
“God Forgives I Don’t” by Rick Ross
“Dark Roots of Earth” by Testament
“The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2” by Joss Stone
“Best In Show” by Jackyl
“Fight or Flight” by Hoobastank.

Musical Events/Festivals/Benefits:

On August 3, Country stars Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and his wife Miranda Lambert will headline the inaugural Watershed Music Festival at Seattle, Washington’s Gorge Amphitheatre. The three-day festival also features appearances by Brantley Gilbert, Kix Brooks, Sara Evans, Thompson Square, Tracy Lawrence and Dwight Yoakam. Promoter Brian O’Connell said, “The idea of the festival is about community and gathering, and Country music is a community. There are many other festivals out there, but nothing quite like the inherent beauty of Watershed.”

Lollapalooza 2012 takes place August 3-5 at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. This year’s headliners are Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys and Black Sabbath. The lineup also includes Jack Black, Florence + the Machine, Frank Ocean, B.O.B and Calvin Harris, among many others. Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Ferrell created Lollapalooza in 1991 as a festival tour. Since 2005, the gathering has been held as a three-day weekend event in Chicago. In addition to the many concerts, Lollapalooza 2012 will offer a digital lounge, video game tent, artist autograph sessions, a family playground, music workshops, and more.

Newport, Rhode Island will host the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival August 3-5. This year’s event features appearances by Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnette, Dianne Reeves, Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell performing the John Lennon songbook, and dozens of others. Founded by producer and promoter George Wein in 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival was the first annual jazz festival in America.

Star Birthdays:

On July 29, Canadian rock singer Geddy Lee celebrated his 59th birthday. In the late 1960s, Lee formed Rush, a group best known for such rock classics as “Closer To The Heart” and “Tom Sawyer.” In 1996, Rush recorded the album, “Test For Echo.” One year later, drummer Neil Peart’s daughter died in a car accident. He also lost his wife to cancer in 1998. The tragic events led to a long hiatus for Rush. They returned in 2002 with “Vapor Trails.” Two years later, Rush celebrated its 30th year in music with the release of “Feedback.” Since then, the band has recorded two more albums, 2008’s “Snakes & Arrow’s” and “Clockwork Angels,” which dropped last month. On September 7, Rush will kick off a 33-city North American tour.

Country singer Martina McBride turned 46 on July 29. Born in Sharon, Kansas, Martina came to national attention in 1991, when Garth Brooks chose her as the opening act on his U.S. tour. The following year, RCA Records released her debut album, “The Time Has Come.” Martina’s second collection, “The Way That I Am,” produced several hits, including “My Baby Loves Me,” “Life #9” and “Independence Day.” “Evolution,” the million-selling follow-up to her 1995 album “Wild Angels,” was released in late 1997. Martina’s 1999 album, “Emotion,” included the hits “I Love You,” “Love’s The Only House” and “There You Are.” Two years later, RCA Records released her first anthology, which featured four new songs. “Greatest Hits” debuted at Number One on Billboard’s Country Albums chart and Number 5 on the Top 200 chart. Martina won the Country Music Association’s (CMA) Female Vocalist of the Year awards in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Her 2004 album, “Martina,” included the hits “This One’s For the Girls,” “In My Daughter’s Eyes,” “How Far” and “God’s Will.” In 2005, Martina gave birth to her third child, Ava Rose Kathleen McBride, who joined sisters Delaney and Emma. Martina’s 2005 album, “Timeless,” featured her renditions of classic Country songs. Following the release of her 2009 album “Shine,” Martina left RCA Records. Last year, she signed with Republic Nashville Records for the release of her latest CD, “Eleven.” Martina recently announced that she’s spending the summer in Los Angeles, where her daughter is taking acting classes while Martina films the new E! Network reality show, “Opening Act.”

On July 30, singer-songwriter Paul Anka celebrates his 71st birthday. Among Anka’s biggest chart hits are “Lonely Boy,” “You’re Having My Baby” and “Puppy Love.” His compositions recorded by other artists include “My Way,” “She’s A Lady” and the theme for the late-night television program, “The Tonight Show.” In 1996, Anka teamed with several Latin stars, including Julio Iglesias, Ana Gabriel, Juan Gabriel and Jose Luis Rodriguez to record the duets album, “Amigos.” Celine Dion, Tom Jones, Ricky Martin, Kenny G, and Barry Gibb also appeared on the project. Anka’s 1998 CD, “A Body of Work,” featured duets with Patti LaBelle, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, Tevin Campbell, the late Frank Sinatra, and Anka’s daughter Anthea, plus five new solo tunes. His 2005 album, “Rock Swings,” includes Anka’s jazz versions of songs made famous by the late Michael Jackson, Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi and Oasis, among others. In 2007, Anka celebrated his 50th year in music by releasing “Classic Songs - My Way.” In addition to some of his best-known hits, the album features his renditions of songs that were hits for Daniel Powter, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, The Killers, and others. Anka co-wrote the Michael Jackson single “This Is It” with the late pop singer in 1983. The track was released four months after Michael’s June 2009 death.

July 31 marks the birth date of singer Bob Welch (born 1946). The Los Angeles native was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974. He left the group to pursue a solo career, and in 1977, recorded his biggest hit, the Top 10 single “Sentimental Lady.” That track is included on his latest collection, “Bob Welch: His Fleetwood Mac Years & Beyond,” which was released in 2003. Three years later, he issued “His Fleetwood Mac Years & Beyond 2,” which included six new songs. Last month (June 7), Welch died at his Nashville, Tennessee home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

August 1 marks the birth date of the Grateful Dead’s late founder and guitarist Jerry Garcia (born 1942). The group formed in 1966, and for the next three decades, attracted a loyal following of fans known as “Dead Heads.” The Grateful Dead ranked among the highest-grossing concert acts in the United States for many years. On August 9th, 1995, Garcia died of a heart attack at a California drug and alcohol treatment facility. Since then, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead have performed as The Other Ones and The Dead. In 2002, Rhino records released “The Golden Road (1965-1973),” a 12-CD box set that spans the Grateful Dead’s years on Warner Brothers Records. A limited release 10-CD box set, “Fillmore West 1969 - The Complete Recordings,” was issued in 2005. Only 10-thousand copies of the box set were sold and each was individually numbered. In February 2007, the Grateful Dead received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. To celebrate what would have been his 70th birthday, Grateful Dead member Bob Weir and other musicians are hosting the Jerry Garcia tribute show “Move Me Brightly,” which will stream live from Weir’s TRI Studios.

Singer Tony Bennett will celebrate his 86th birthday on August 3. Famous for his 1962 recording “I Left My Heart In San Francisco,” Bennett’s biggest chart hits include “In The Middle Of The Island,” “From The Candy Store On The Corner To The Chapel On The Hill” and “I Wanna Be Around.” In 1994, an appearance on MTV’s “Unplugged” program earned him a new audience of “Generation X” fans (late teens and 20s) and a Grammy award for the concert special’s CD release. His tribute to the late Billie Holiday, “On Holiday,” was released in early 1997. The following year, Bennett recorded a collection of children’s songs called “The Playground.” He also wrote a book titled “The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett.” His 1999 album, “Bennett Sings Ellington - Hot and Cool,” was a 14-song tribute to Duke Ellington. Bennett’s next collection, “Playing With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues,” was released in 2001. It features duets with Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Sheryl Crow, Natalie Cole and Diana Krall. In 2002, he teamed with k.d. lang to record “What A Wonderful World,” which contains their renditions of twelve classic Louis Armstrong songs. Bennett’s 2004 album, “The Art of Romance,” won a Grammy award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. To celebrate his 80th birthday in 2006, Columbia Records released “Duets - An American Classic.” The Grammy-winning set includes duets Bennett recorded with Barbra Streisand, Bono, Elton John, John Legend, the Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, k.d. lang, Juanes, Elvis Costello, Tim McGraw and Sting, among others. Also in 2006, he received a Century Award, Billboard magazine’s highest honor for creative achievement. Bennett married his longtime partner Susan Crow in June 2007. He was among the surprise guests who performed with Billy Joel at his 2008 “Last Play at Shea Stadium” concerts in New York. Also in 2008, Bennett’s first holiday album in 40 years was released. “A Swingin’ Christmas” was recorded live in New Jersey with the Count Basie Big Band. On Bennett’s latest album, “Duets II,” he sings with Celine Dion, Amy Winehouse, Andrea Bocelli, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and more. The album brought Tony this year’s Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Bennett is currently performing a European concert tour.

On August 4, 2010 American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox will celebrate her 27th birthday. Crystal grew up in Ohio and attended the Toledo School for the Arts. She sang the Janis Joplin rock classic “Piece of My Heart” at her “American Idol” audition in Chicago, Illinois. Crystal was beat out by Lee DeWyze on the May 2010 finale. She signed to Jive Records, which released her 2010 debut album, “Farmer’s Daughter.” When the label closed its doors last year, Crystal was left without a record company. Regardless, she’s working on her second album, which she hopes will be out later this year.

Look Who's Going On Tour!

Folk-rock group Mumford & Sons kicks off its U.S. summer tour on August 1 in Hoboken, New Jersey. The tour also includes four festival dates, which begin on August 4 in Portland, Maine. Those four shows are billed as “Gentlemen of the Road Stopovers.” The British band will also perform festival dates in Bristol, Virginia on August 11, Dixon, Illinois on August 18 and Monterey, California on August 25. Mumford & Sons will be supporting its upcoming second album “Babel,” which drops in the U.S. on September 25.

On August 3, Latin pop stars Marc Anthony, Chayanne and Marco Antonio Solis will begin their “GIGANT3S” (“Giants”) tour in Miami, Florida. They’ll stop in 15 U.S. cities through September 14. One international date is on their itinerary. On October 20, they’re scheduled to perform in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Marc Anthony said, “We all want to present a spectacle that connects the three of us in one show. Our fans deserve this kind of show.”

According to Billboard Boxscore, Roger Waters’ “The Wall Live” tour is the highest-grossing outing for the first half of 2012. The mid-year report ranks concerts from November 1, 2011 through May 1, 2012. “The Wall Live” made $131.4 million with 1.2 million tickets sold. Rounding out the Top 10 money-makers are “Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour by Cirque du Soleil,” Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z/Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Van Halen, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Taylor Swift, Pearl Jam and Andre Rieu.