News / Arts & Entertainment

Beyonce Documentary Popular with Viewers; Timberlake Scores Billboard Hit

Beyonce at the premiere of her HBO documentary
Beyonce at the premiere of her HBO documentary " Beyonce: Life is But a Dream," at the The Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.
Mary Morningstar
Beyonce's HBO Documentary Popular with US Viewers

Beyonce’s new HBO documentary, “Life Is But A Dream,” drew 1.8 million viewers to its first airing on February 16.  According to Nielsen, that was the largest audience for a HBO documentary since 2004.  Spike Lee’s 2006 miniseries on Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in New Orleans, “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” held the previous viewing record of 1.7 million.

Timberlake Tops Billboard's Social 50 Chart

Justin TimberlakeJustin Timberlake
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Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake
For the first time in his career, Justin Timberlake makes it into the Top 10 on Billboard’s Social 50 chart.  Justin’s advancement on the list came from the success of his new single “Suit and Tie” and upcoming third album, The 20/20 Experience.  The album is set to be released on March 15.  Billboard launched the Social 50 chart in 2011 to rank the most popular artists on various social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and YouTube, among others.

Cee Lo Launches Las Vegas Show

Cee Lo Green, Los Angeles 2010 (Copyright Mick Rock 2012)Cee Lo Green, Los Angeles 2010 (Copyright Mick Rock 2012)
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Cee Lo Green, Los Angeles 2010 (Copyright Mick Rock 2012)
Cee Lo Green, Los Angeles 2010 (Copyright Mick Rock 2012)
On February 27, Cee Lo Green will launch his 28-show Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood.  Producers said “Cee Lo Presents Loberace” will feature “mind-twisting magic and sexified showgirls.”  Cee Lo will wrap up the engagement on April 13.  Boyz II Men also begin their Las Vegas residency this week.  On March 1, the four-time Grammy-winning R&B group will open its year-long weekend performances at Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage.  Seventy-eight shows are planned through the end of 2013.

YouTube Streaming Now Factors Into Billboard, Nielsen Top Song Charts

Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan have added YouTube streaming data to the Hot 100 chart’s methodology.  The chart’s rankings are also determined by radio airplay, digital download sales, singles sales, on-demand audio streaming and online radio streaming.  Due to that change, music producer Baauer (real name Harry Rodrigues) enters this week’s Hot 100 chart at Number One with his debut single “Harlem Shake.”  Although it lacked radio airplay, the song had 103 million streams during the past week.  Other songs that benefited from the chart’s new methodology include Rihanna’s “Stay,” Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”

Cirque du Soleil's New Show Features Michael Jackson Music

U.S. pop star Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009 from a lethal combination of drugs that included the powerful anesthetic propofolU.S. pop star Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009 from a lethal combination of drugs that included the powerful anesthetic propofol
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U.S. pop star Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009 from a lethal combination of drugs that included the powerful anesthetic propofol
U.S. pop star Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009 from a lethal combination of drugs that included the powerful anesthetic propofol
A new Michael Jackson Cirque du Soleil show will open on June 29 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  “Michael Jackson ONE” begins previews on May 23.  Daniel Lamarre, president and chief executive officer of Cirque du Soleil said in a statement, “This is our second project with the estate of Michael Jackson, which confirms how stimulating this creative partnership was meant to be. Michael Jackson is an all-time phenomenal artist, both timeless and contemporary. As a creative challenge, this project is the ultimate. Through the use of cutting edge technology, we will produce a new Cirque du Soleil theatrical experience not only respectful of Michael’s legacy but also very distinctive from ‘Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour.’”

Pearl Jam's New Album Earns Major Props

Pearl Jam has earned Diamond certification for selling 10 million copies of its 1991 album, Ten. Nielsen SoundScan reports that Ten is the 22nd album to hit that number since 1991.  This year, three other titles have crossed the 10 million sales mark in the United States.  They include Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, Usher’s Confessions and Adele’s 21.

Mumford & Sons Enjoying Grammy Boost

Mumford & Sons perform on stage during the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in London February 15, 2011.Mumford & Sons perform on stage during the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in London February 15, 2011.
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Mumford & Sons perform on stage during the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in London February 15, 2011.
Mumford & Sons perform on stage during the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in London February 15, 2011.
Mumford & Sons’ Babel returns to Number One on this week’s Billboard 200 chart, thanks to a surge in sales following the February 10 Grammy Awards.  Babel, which won the Best Album Grammy, sold 185,000 copies the week after the awards show telecast, an increase of 242 percent.  Other albums that saw big sales increases after the awards show include the “2013 Grammy Nominees” compilation, Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars, Red by Taylor Swift and The Lumineers’ self-titled debut.

New Album Releases / February 26:

  •  “In Time” by The Mavericks
  • “AMOK” (Deluxe Edition) by Atoms For Peace
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville, U.S.A.” by Michael Bolton

Musical Events/Festivals/Benefits:

Singer Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, for the President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony.Singer Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, for the President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony.
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Singer Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, for the President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony.
Singer Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock arrive on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 21, 2013, for the President Barack Obama's ceremonial swearing-in ceremony.
On March 1, pop star Kelly Clarkson will be in Grand Prairie, Texas to perform her first hometown concert in more than one year.  The show benefits the Opportunity Education Foundation.  Since 2005, the foundation has worked to provide middle school educations for 500,000 children in 11 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  Plans are now underway to expand its mission to high school students as well.

Star Birthdays

Canadian singer Daniel Powter will celebrated his 42nd birthday on February 25.  In 2005, Daniel recorded the Number One international hit “Bad Day.”  The piano-driven pop song topped charts in four countries and was a Top 10 hit in 10 others.  The track was used in a commercial for Coca-Cola in Europe and also during the elimination rounds of the fifth season of “American Idol.”  In 2006, Daniel was named Best New Artist at the Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys).  Since 2008, he has recorded two more albums, “Under the Radar” and last year’s “Turn on the Lights.”

February 25 marked the birth date of the late former Beatle George Harrison (b. 1943).  The British guitarist formed his first group at age 13.  Two years later, he teamed with John Lennon and Paul McCartney in The Quarrymen.  Later renamed The Beatles, Harrison performed with the group until it disbanded in 1970.  That same year, his debut solo album was released, which spawned the Number One hit, “My Sweet Lord.”  In 1971, he organized the “Concert For Bangla Desh,” a benefit for East Pakistan’s starving population.  The event featured performances by Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Badfinger, and others, and generated a hit album and single.  In 1988, Harrison joined The Traveling Wilburys, a group that also included Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynn.  Harrison lost his battle with cancer in November of 2001.

This is a 1977 photo of country western musician Johnny Cash.This is a 1977 photo of country western musician Johnny Cash.
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This is a 1977 photo of country western musician Johnny Cash.
This is a 1977 photo of country western musician Johnny Cash.
February 26 marks the birth date of legendary Country singer Johnny Cash (born 1932).  Cash signed his first deal with Sun Records in 1955 and recorded more than 150 chart hits during his long career.  Some of his most popular tunes included “A Boy Named Sue,” “I Walk The Line,” “Ring Of Fire” and “Daddy Sang Bass.”  In 1980, Cash was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  In 1993, he signed with American Recordings, which released his album of the same name.  Three years later, he recorded “Unchained,” which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Country Album.  In 1998, Cash was diagnosed with Shy-Drager Syndrome, a form of Parkinson’s disease.  Doctors later changed that diagnosis to autonomic neuropathy.  Cash won the 2001 Best Male Country Vocal Performance Grammy for “Solitary Man,” a track from his critically acclaimed album “American III - Solitary Man.”  “American IV: The Man Comes Around,” brought him several industry honors in 2003, including three Country Music Association Awards.  He died on September 12, 2003, less than four months after the death of his wife, June Carter Cash.  “Ain’t No Grave,” the sixth and final album in Johnny’s American Recordings series, was released in 2010.  Many tributes and celebrations will take place this year to honor what would have been his 80th birthday.  Last year, his family gathered in Arkansas to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project. Restoration of the house and surrounding buildings is expected to be complete in September for a grand opening to mark the 10th anniversary of Johnny’s death.  Last year, the Johnny Cash Museum opened in downtown Nashville.  It features a permanent display of more than one-thousand items from Cash’s life and a 250-seat theater.  The U.S. Postal Service recently announced that Johnny will be memorialized with his own stamp as part of a new Music Icons series of stamps.  

British singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae will turn 34 on February 26.  In 2006, she made her recording debut with a self-titled collection that entered the U.K. chart at Number One.  The achievement made her only the fourth female British artist to enter at the top with a debut album.  It also brought her three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year and Record of the Year for “Put Your Records On.”  The album’s next three singles, “Trouble Sleeping,” “I’d Like To” and “Breathless,” were all minor hits.  Corinne’s husband, Scottish musician Jason Rae, died in 2008 of an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol.  In 2011, she released “The Love EP,” a five-song collection of some of her favorite tunes.  Corinne recorded the tracks as she toured the world to promote her 2010 album, “The Sea.”  Her cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” brought her a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance.  A few months ago, Corinne announced that she’s working on a new album that will be out sometime this year.

On February 26, pop singer Michael Bolton celebrates his 60th birthday.  Bolton’s many hits include “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” and his version of the Percy Sledge classic, “When A Man Loves A Woman.”  He left Columbia Records in 2001 and signed a new recording contract with Jive Records.  Bolton’s first album for the label, “Only A Woman Like You,” was released in 2002.  The following year, he recorded “Vintage,” a collection of standards from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.  Bolton included seven new studio tracks on his 2005 live album, “’Til The End of Forever.”  His 2006 release, “Bolton Swings Sinatra,” features his versions of 12 Frank Sinatra classics.  In 2009, he recorded “One World One Love.”  First released only in the United Kingdom, the album was issued in the U.S. in 2010.  Last month, Bolton released his autobiography, “The Soul of It All: My Music, My Life.”  His latest album, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute to Hitsville, U.S.A., will be out on February 26. 

On February 26, singer and pianist Fats Domino will celebrate his 85th birthday.  He made his recording debut in 1950, one year after signing his first contract with Imperial Records.  Although he never recorded a Number One single, many of his songs, including “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t That A Shame” and “I’m Walkin’” became enormous hits.  In 1986, Domino was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In 2005, his home, located in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, was flooded by Hurricane Katrina.  He didn’t evacuate and had to be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter.  In 2009, Fats gave a surprise performance in New Orleans at The Domino Effect charity concert, which raised money to rebuild schools and playgrounds that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Pop singer Josh Groban will turn 32 on February 27.  Groban’s 2002 self-titled debut album sold more than five million copies worldwide and featured the international hit “To Where You Are.”  The following year, Josh scored another hit with “You Raise Me Up” from his second collection, “Closer.”  His next album, “Awake,” was released in 2006.  Its hits included “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up)” and “February Song.”  Josh’s 2007 holiday album, “Noel,” sold five million copies in the U.S.  It became the first Christmas album to spend four consecutive weeks at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart.  In 2011, Josh played the role of an attorney in the film “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” which also starred Emma Stone and Steve Carell.  His new album, “All That Echoes,” was released on February 5.  Its first single is the Adult Contemporary chart hit, “Brave.” 

On February 28, Train’s lead singer Pat Monahan will celebrate his 44th birthday.  The band’s hits include “Meet Virginia,” “Drops of Jupiter” and “Calling All Angels.”  In 2008, Pat released his first solo album, “Last of Seven.”  Its single, “Her Eyes,” reached the Top 10 on the Adult Top 40 chart.  Train’s album, “Save Me, San Francisco,” produced the Adult Top 40 Number One single, “Hey, Soul Sister.”  The live version of the song won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.  Trains 2012 album, “California 37,” includes the recent Top 10 single “Drive By.”  The song was a hit in many countries around the world.

Singer Justin Bieber performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Gardens in New York, December 7, 2012.Singer Justin Bieber performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Gardens in New York, December 7, 2012.
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Singer Justin Bieber performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Gardens in New York, December 7, 2012.
Singer Justin Bieber performs during the Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Gardens in New York, December 7, 2012.
Pop star Justin Bieber turns 19 years old on March 1.  Born in Ontario, Canada, Justin was discovered at age 13 by former record company marketing executive Scooter Braun.  Braun saw a video of Justin on YouTube and convinced his mother to take him to Atlanta to make some demos.  He was immediately signed to Raymond Braun Media Group, which Scooter created with R&B star Usher.  Justin’s debut album, “My World,” was released in 2009.  That was followed by “My World 2.0.” in 2010.  Justin’s biggest hits include “Baby,” “Somebody To Love,” “Never Say Never” and “Boyfriend.”  His sophomore album, “Believe,” was released in 2012.  An acoustic version of “Believe” was released last month. 

On March 1, British singer Roger Daltrey will celebrate his 69th birthday.  Daltrey formed his first band with John Entwistle and Pete Townshend in the early 1960s.  Known as The Detours, they later added drummer Keith Moon (died 9/7/78) and changed their name to the High Numbers, and finally, the Who.  Throughout the late 1970s and ‘80s, the group took long breaks from recording and performing due to several tragic events, including the death of Keith Moon and the deaths of eleven fans, trampled at a 1979 concert in Cincinnati.  In 1990, the Who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Daltrey celebrated the group’s 30th anniversary in 1994 by organizing “Daltrey Sings Townshend,” an all-star rock concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.  Performances from the event were released on “A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and the Who.”  In 2002, the Who’s bassist John Entwistle died in his Las Vegas hotel room one day before the group was to kick off a North American concert tour.  Daltrey and Pete Townshend went on with the tour as a tribute to Entwistle.  In 2006, the Who recorded “Endless Wire,” its first album of all new material since 1982.  The album debuted at Number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart.  In 2008, Daltrey and Townshend both received Kennedy Center Honors.  The Who performed the half-time show at the 2010 Super Bowl XLIV (44).

Singer Harry Belafonte will turn 86 on March 1.  During the 1940s, Belafonte made a career change from acting to singing after a nightclub owner heard him perform and signed him to a 20-week engagement.  That led to a recording contract with Jubilee Records.  In 1956, he recorded “Calypso,” which topped Billboard’s pop albums chart for 31 weeks and became the first album ever to sell one million copies.  The album’s most popular single, “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” climbed to Number 5 on the charts.  In 1985, Belafonte spearheaded the “USA For Africa” benefit, which brought together 45 well-known artists to record “We Are The World.”  Two years later, he was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.  Belafonte performed his last concert in 2003.  His many awards include a Kennedy Center Honor, National Medal of Arts and Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.  Belafonte’s life and career is chronicled in the 2011 documentary, “Harry Belafonte: Sing Your Song.”  The biopic was co-produced by his youngest child, Gina Belafonte.

Jon Bon Jovi (file photo)Jon Bon Jovi (file photo)
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Jon Bon Jovi (file photo)
Jon Bon Jovi (file photo)
On March 2, Jon Bon Jovi, lead vocalist of the rock quartet Bon Jovi, will celebrate his 51st birthday.    During the 1980s, the group scored several Number One hits, including “You Give Love A Bad Name,” “Livin’ On A Prayer,” “Bad Medicine” and “I’ll Be There For You.”  In 1990, Jon recorded his debut solo project, the soundtrack to the motion picture “Young Guns II.”  It produced the hit singles “Miracles” and “Blaze of Glory.”  Jon’s second solo collection, “Destination Anywhere,” was released in 1997.  In 2003, Jon became co-owner of the Philadelphia Soul, an expansion Arena Football League franchise.  The following year, Bon Jovi compiled its first box set, “100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong.”  The 4-CD collection includes 38 previously unreleased tracks.  Bon Jovi’s 2005 album, “Have A Nice Day,” features the group’s Number One, Grammy-winning Country duet with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”  Bon Jovi recorded their 2007 album, “Lost Highway,” in Nashville.  The band’s 2007-2008 “Lost Highway Tour” earned 252-million-dollars.  Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple and a film crew shot video of the tour to make a documentary about Bon Jovi’s 25 years in music.  In 2009, Bon Jovi was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.  Also in 2009, Jon Bon Jovi and Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora entered the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Bon Jovi had the Number One tour of 2010.  The group’s 2011 “The Circle Tour” earned $190 million to become the Number Two tour of the year.  On February 10, Bon Jovi kicked of the North American leg of its “Because We Can” world tour in Washington, D.C.  The trek supports the band’s upcoming album, “What About Now,” which will be released on March 8.

Awards Presentations / Winners

British singer Adele perfoms the song British singer Adele perfoms the song "Skyfall" from film "Skyfall," nominated as best orginal song, at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California Feb. 24, 2013.
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British singer Adele perfoms the song
British singer Adele perfoms the song "Skyfall" from film "Skyfall," nominated as best orginal song, at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California Feb. 24, 2013.
The 2013 Academy Awards were presented on February 24 in Los Angeles.  Adele nd Paul Epwort won the Oscar for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture for “Skyfall”  Thee Oscar for Best Original Score went to Mychael Danna for “Life of Pi”.

Look Who's Going On Tour!

On February 27, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band will kick off its North American “Rock and Roll Never Forgets Tour.”  Shows begin in Toledo, Ohio.  The group will join Kid Rock for two co-headlining concerts on March 15 in Saint Paul, Minnesota and on March 16 in Fargo, North Dakota.  Seger’s 20-date tour wraps up on April 16 in Brooklyn, New York.

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Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”