News / Arts & Entertainment

Beyonce Signs Pepsi Deal; Bruno Mars Tops Billboard 200

Beyoncé poses for pictures at a press conference June 22, 2009 in New York.
Beyoncé poses for pictures at a press conference June 22, 2009 in New York.
Mary Morningstar
R&B superstar Beyonce has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Pepsi reportedly worth $50 million.  The campaign includes television and radio commercials, magazine ads and a limited-edition run of her image on Pepsi cans.  The only other artist to be pictured on a Pepsi can was Michael Jackson.  The Beyonce edition will be available in early 2013.  Pepsi is sponsoring the February 3 Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, which Beyonce will headline.

Bruno Mars Tops Billboard 200

Bruno Mars performs on the NBC Bruno Mars performs on the NBC "Today" television program in New York, June 24, 2011.
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Bruno Mars performs on the NBC
Bruno Mars performs on the NBC "Today" television program in New York, June 24, 2011.
This week, Bruno Mars scores the highest entry on the Billboard 200 chart of his career with Unorthodox Jukebox.  The set sold 192,000 copies its first week of release to debut at Number Two.  The album’s lead single, “Locked Out of Heaven,” is Mars’ fourth chart-topper on the Hot 100 list.  Taylor Swift keeps hold of the Number One position on the Billboard 200 chart with Red, which sold an additional 208,000 copies during the past week.


Pope Wins 'The Voice' Season 3

On December 18, Cassadee Pope, 23, was named the winner of “The Voice” Season 3.  Scottish singer Terry McDermott was voted runner-up and 31-year-old soul singer Nicholas David placed third.  Pope and McDermott were coached by Country star Blake Shelton.  David was a member of Team Cee Lo Green.  Performers on the finale included Rihanna, Bruno Mars, the Killers, Kelly Clarkson, Smokey Robinson and Peter Frampton.  “The Voice” Season 4 premieres on March 25, 2013.  Shakira and Usher will be new coaches, replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green.
 
Hurricane Sandy Benefit Album Drops

On December 18, Columbia Records digitally released a 24-song compilation from the 12-12-12 Hurricane Sandy benefit concert.  The event was held at New York’s Madison Square Garden with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Robin Hood Relief Fund.  Net proceeds from sales of the album will benefit the same organization.  The 12-12-12 six-hour live telethon featured performances by the Rolling Stones, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, and many others.  Ticket sales brought in more than $35 million.  The physical double-CD release of 12-12-12 The Concert for Sandy Relief is set for January 22.

Spears Tops Forbes' Highest Earning Women in Music List

Britney Spears arrives at the Britney Spears arrives at the "X Factor" season finale press conference at CBS Studios on Dec. 17, 2012, in Los Angeles.
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Britney Spears arrives at the
Britney Spears arrives at the "X Factor" season finale press conference at CBS Studios on Dec. 17, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Forbes has released its annual ranking of the highest-earning women in music.  Topping the list is Britney Spears, who earned $58 million during the past year, thanks to her million-selling album Femme Fatale, concert tour, endorsements and her fragrance line.  Close behind with $57 million in earnings is Taylor Swift.  Rounding out the Top 10 female moneymakers are Rihanna ($53 million), Lady Gaga ($52 million), Katy Perry ($45 million), Beyonce ($40 million), Adele ($35 million), Sade ($33 million), Madonna ($30 million) and Shakira ($20 million).

Curtain to Fall on Broadway's Evita in January



The Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” will close on January 26 after 337 performances.  Producers have decided not to recast the starring roles performed by Ricky Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris.  “Our extensive search for a new cast presented the significant challenges of not only replacing a high-caliber trio of stars, but also synchronizing the schedules of potential replacements with that of the production," producer Hal Luftig told The Hollywood Reporter. "Despite going down the road with a variety of artists, the planets have simply not aligned for us to engage the right talent at the right time.  Therefore, we have made the decision to end this incredible journey on a high note on January 26 with our original stars intact.”  The popular show has earned more than $1 million each week.  A national tour of Evita is still planned to begin in September 2013.

Library of Congress to Honor Carole King

arole King attends the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, in New York, Nov. 20, 2011.arole King attends the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, in New York, Nov. 20, 2011.
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arole King attends the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, in New York, Nov. 20, 2011.
arole King attends the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, in New York, Nov. 20, 2011.
Legendary singer-songwriter Carole King will receive the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.  Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “Carole King has been one of the most influential songwriters of our time.  For more than five decades, she has written for and been recorded by many different types of artists for a wide range of audiences, communicating with beauty and dignity the universal human emotions of love, joy, pain and loss.  Her body of work reflects the spirit of the Gershwin Prize with its originality, longevity and diversity of appeal.”  King responded, “I was so pleased when the venerable Library of Congress began honoring writers of popular songs with the Gershwin Prize.  I’m proud to be the fifth such honoree and the first woman among such distinguished company.  I look forward to performing in the nation’s capital.”  Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney and songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  King will be honored with a series of events in the spring of 2013.

New Album Releases / December 25:

“Now. Here. This,”- original motion picture soundtrack
“Leap of Faith,” - the original Broadcast Cast Recording 
“Les Miserables” - soundtrack highlights

Star Birthdays

Ricky Martin, Sept. 24, 2009 in New York.Ricky Martin, Sept. 24, 2009 in New York.
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Ricky Martin, Sept. 24, 2009 in New York.
Ricky Martin, Sept. 24, 2009 in New York.
Latin pop star Ricky Martin turns 41 on December 24.  Born in Puerto Rico, Ricky first gained popularity in America for his Broadway role in “Les Miserables.”  In 1999, his self-titled debut album was released.  It produced Ricky’s Number One hit “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”  Many other hits followed, including “She Bangs,” “Shake Your Bon Bon,” “The Cup of Life” (the official song of the World Cup France ’98, which topped charts in more than 30 countries) and “She’s All I Ever Had.”  His second English language CD, “Sound Loaded,” was released in 2000.  In 2003, Sony issued “Almas Del Silencio,” Ricky’s first Spanish language collection since 1998.  His latest studio album, 2005’s “Life,” spawned the dance hit “I Don’t Care,” featuring Fat Joe and Amerie.  Ricky was named the 2006 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year for his accomplishments as an entertainer and humanitarian.  He launched his People for Children Foundation in 2004.  The organization works toward the elimination of human trafficking, especially trafficking of children.  He has also served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.  In 2008, Ricky became the father of twin boys that were born to a surrogate mother.  He named them Valentino and Matteo.  Ricky’s memoir, “Me,” was published in 2010.  Last year, he released his latest album, “Music+Soul+Sex.”  Ricky currently stars on Broadway in a new production of Evita.  The show will close when his run ends on January 26.  Next year, Ricky will be a coach on Australia’s “The Voice.”  He’s replacing Keith Urban, who left the show to be a judge on the upcoming season of “American Idol.” 

On December 25, British pop singer Dido will celebrate her 41st birthday.  Dido’s debut album, “No Angel,” was released in 1999.  The following year, she and rapper Eminem recorded the duet “Stan,” which brought her national attention.  Dido’s “No Angel” CD featured the Number 3 hit, “Thank You.”  Her second album, “Life For Rent,” was released in 2003.  It included the hit, “White Flag.”  In 2005, she began work on her third album, “Safe Trip Home.”  After several delays, it was finally released in late 2008.  In 2010, Dido collaborated with A.R. Rahman on the award-winning song “If I Rise,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the film “127 Hours.”  Her new album, “Girl Who Got Away,” will be released on March 4, 2013. 

Singer Annie Lennox will turn 58 on December 25.  Lennox began performing with the Tourists in 1977.  Three years later, she left the group to form the pop duo The Eurythmics with guitarist Dave Stewart.  In 1983, the duo released its debut album, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”  The title track went to Number One.  In 1992, Lennox recorded her first solo collection, “Diva.”  Three years later, her second solo album, “Medusa,” was released.  Its singles included “No More I Love You’s,” “Whiter Shade Of Pale,” and “Waiting In Vain.”  In 1999, Annie reunited with Dave Stewart to record “Peace.”  They promoted the collection with a concert tour, which marked their first outing in more than 10 years.  Lennox received the 2002 Century Award, Billboard magazine’s highest honor for creative achievement.  Her third solo album, “Bare,” was released in 2003.  The collection earned a Grammy nomination for Pop Vocal Album of the Year.  That same year, she recorded “Into the West” for the film “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”  The song won a Golden Globe and Academy Award.  In 2005, Annie and Dave Stewart recorded two new songs for their greatest hits retrospective, “Ultimate Collection.”  Annie’s fourth solo album, “Songs of Mass Destruction,” includes “Sing,” a collaborative track with 23 well-known female artists.  In 2008, Lennox received an American Music Award of Merit for her musical contributions.  Her first holiday album, “A Christmas Cornucopia,” was released in 2010. 

On December 25, singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett will celebrate his 66th birthday.  Among his best-known songs is the 1977 Top 10 single, “Margaritaville.”  In addition to his career in music, Buffett owns several “Margaritaville” restaurants.  Since 1996, Buffett has recorded several albums, including “Banana Wind,” the party-flavored holiday collection “Christmas Island,” “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” “Beach House on the Moon” and “Far Side of the World.”  In 2003, he returned to his Country music roots on the Number One duet with Alan Jackson, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”  It won the Vocal Event of the Year honor at the 2003 Country Music Association Awards and also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.  Jimmy’s 2004 album, “License To Chill,” paired him with several Country stars, including Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Martina McBride, Clint Black, George Strait and Kenny Chesney.  His 2006 release, “Take the Weather with You,” produced the minor Country hit “Bama Breeze.”  In 2008, Buffett authored the book “Swine Not,” which deals with the adventures of a potbelly pig in New York City.  Jimmy’s latest album, “Buffet Hotel,” was inspired by an old colonial-era train station/hotel near Timbuktu where the music scene flourished in Mali in the 1960s.  Last month, Buffett sold his Cheeseburger In Paradise restaurant chain, which has 23 locations in 14 states.

On December 26, rock singer Chris Daughtry turns 33.  The fourth place 2006 “American Idol” finalist signed with RCA Records for the release of his band’s self-titled debut album.  The collection sold four million copies and brought Daughtry four 2007 Grammy nominations.  Its hits include “It’s Not Over,” “Home” and “What About Now.”  The Number One debut of Daughtry’s second album, “Leave This Town,” made him the first “American Idol” alum to have two consecutive Billboard 200 chart-toppers.  On a personal note, Chris and his wife welcomed twins Adalynn Rose and Noah James in 2010.  This year, Daughtry supported its third album, “Break the Spell,” on a co-headlining tour with 3 Doors Down.  They plan to launch a second leg of the tour on January 25, 2013. 

Hayley Williams of the band Paramore celebrates her 24th birthday on December 27.  Hayley was only 14 when she was signed to a production deal.  At that time, she was writing songs in Nashville.  In 2004, Hayley formed the pop-punk band Paramore with school friends Josh and Zac Farro and Jeremy Davis.  The following year, the group released its debut album, “For All We Know Is Falling.”  Paramore’s second album, “Riot,” came out in 2007 and was certified platinum in the U.S.  Paramore spent much of 2010 touring in support of its latest album, “Brand New Eyes.”  In December 2010, brothers Josh and Zac Farro announced they were leaving the band.  Paramore’s upcoming self-titled album will be released on April 9, 2013. 

On December 28, R&B singer John Legend will turn 34.  The nine-time Grammy winner has released three solo albums since 2004.  Legend’s hits include “Ordinary People,” “Green Light” and “Wake Up Everybody.”  He collaborated on his latest album, “Wake Up!,” with the hip-hop band The Roots.  Earlier this year, Legend served as a mentor on ABC-TV’s reality show, “Duets.”

Awards Presentations/Winners:

U.S. singer Katy Perry at the European Premiere of her film U.S. singer Katy Perry at the European Premiere of her film "Part of Me" in London, July 3, 2012.
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U.S. singer Katy Perry at the European Premiere of her film
U.S. singer Katy Perry at the European Premiere of her film "Part of Me" in London, July 3, 2012.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released a list of 75 songs that are eligible for Oscar nominations.  They include pop singer Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” from her documentary “Katy Perry: Part of Me,” Adele’s new James Bond theme song “Skyfall,” and the R. Kelly-penned “One Wing,” sung by Jordan Sparks in “Sparkle.”  Five finalists from the eligible titles will appear in the Best Song category.  All of the nominations are scheduled to be announced on January 15, 2013.  The 85th annual Academy Awards take place on February 24.

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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.”