News / Arts & Entertainment

Chesney Tops Billboard Album Chart; Lopez Signs New Record Deal

Kenny Chesney at the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute in Los Angeles, Feb. 8, 2013.
Kenny Chesney at the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute in Los Angeles, Feb. 8, 2013.
Mary Morningstar
This week, Country star Kenny Chesney earns his seventh Number One album on the Billboard 200 chart.  According to Nielsen SoundScan, Kenny’s new release, Life On A Rock, sold 153,000 copies its first week, which is his lowest debut sales week since 1999.  The album’s lead single, “Pirate Flag,” climbs one spot to Number 4 on this week’s Country Airplay chart.  All four new entries on that list also belong to Chesney.  His duet with Country legend Willie Nelson, called “Coconut Tree,” is the Hot Shot Debut at Number 56.  One space down is “When I See This Bar,” and Kenny lands on the list at Number 59 and Number 60 with “Must Be Something I Missed” and "Life On A Rock,” respectively.

Lopez Signs New Record Deal

actress and singer Jennifer Lopez arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.actress and singer Jennifer Lopez arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.
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actress and singer Jennifer Lopez arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.
actress and singer Jennifer Lopez arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.
Latin pop star Jennifer Lopez has signed to RedOne’s label, 2101 Records, for the release up of upcoming 10th album.  2101 is a joint venture with Universal Music Group’s Capitol Records.  RedOne (real name Nadir Khayat) produced the collection, which is due out in late 2013.  Its first single, “Live It Up,” features rapper Pitbull.

Underwood Lands NFL Deal

Carrie Underwood performs on NBC's Carrie Underwood performs on NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Carrie Underwood performs on NBC's
Carrie Underwood performs on NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Country star Carrie Underwood will perform the opening theme of the National Football League’s (NFL) Sunday Night Football games.  She makes her debut on September 8 for the first Sunday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.  Carrie said, “I am thrilled to be a part of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and am so honored they asked me.  I have always loved football season, and it is so exciting to now become part of it every Sunday night.”  Country star Faith Hill has performed the opening theme for the past six seasons.

Artists Unite for Charity

Faith Hill performing at ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, April 8, 2013.Faith Hill performing at ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, April 8, 2013.
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Faith Hill performing at ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, April 8, 2013.
Faith Hill performing at ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, April 8, 2013.
Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Alison Krauss are among the artists who appear on the new benefit CD, Everybody Has A Story. The songs were written by patients and their music therapist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.  Music therapist Jenny Plume says, “Sometimes we wrote about a real life experience, other times I would ask questions and the answers would make the lyrics.  Sometimes we used their poems.  So, it was very collaborative, with me trying to draw those ideas and words out of them.  I hope they will go on to know that they can do anything, they can create things, and hopefully music will always be in their lives.  For those patients who have passed on, this will be a legacy to celebrate their lives.”  Proceeds from “Everybody Has A Story” benefit the Julian T. Fouce Music Therapy Fund, which was created in 2007 by Tom and Maria Fouce in memory of their son Julian.  Julian died of leukemia in 2005.  On May 14, “Everybody Has A Story” will be released worldwide at all digital retailers and at music retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Randy Jackson Confirms American Idol Exit Rumors

Randy Jackson attends the American Idol premiere event at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, Jan. 9, 2013.Randy Jackson attends the American Idol premiere event at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, Jan. 9, 2013.
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Randy Jackson attends the American Idol premiere event at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, Jan. 9, 2013.
Randy Jackson attends the American Idol premiere event at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, Jan. 9, 2013.
American Idol Season 12 viewers have chosen their Top Two finalists.  On May 9, 19-year-old Angie Miller received the lowest number of viewer votes and was eliminated.  The season wraps up with Candice Glover and Kree Harrison competing against each other for the last time on May 15.  Artists scheduled to perform on the season finale include Carly Rae Jepsen, Adam Lambert, The Band Perry and Frankie Valli.  The “American Idol” Season 12 winner will be announced on May 16.  In other news, the show’s lone original judge Randy Jackson announced that he won’t be returning next season. “To put all of the speculation to rest, after twelve years of judging on American Idol I have decided to leave after this season," he said in a statement. "I am very proud of how we forever changed television and the music industry.  It’s been a life changing opportunity but I am looking forward to focusing on my company Dream Merchant 21 and other business ventures.”  It’s rumored that the three other judges, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban, won’t be invited back next year due to the show’s declining ratings.

New Album Releases / May 14:

 “How Mercy Looks From Here” by Amy Grant
“A” by ABBA’s Agnetha Faltskog
“Sports 30th Anniversary Edition” by Huey Lewis and The News
“Spirityouall” by Bobby McFerrin
“In My Lane” by Candace Bellamy
“Demi” by Demi Lovato
“Lip Lock” by Eve
“Love Is Everything” by George Strait
“Ver La Luz” by Scott Tournet (of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals)
”No One In Control” by Snowden
“If The River Was Whiskey” by Spin Doctors and “Love Will…” by Trace Adkins

Musical Events / Festivals / Benefits:

The inaugural Texas Thunder Music Festival takes place in Gardendale, Texas May 17-19.  The three-day event will feature nearly 20 acts, including The Randy Rogers Band, Josh Abbott Band, Charlie Robison, Aaron Watson and Wade Bowen.  All net proceeds from Texas Thunder 2013 are being donated to schools and first responders in West, Texas.  On April 17, a fertilizer plant exploded in West killing 15 people.  “The city of West has a long way to go to get past the grief and devastation and move on to rebuilding," Governor Rick Perry said. "In the true spirit of Texas, the people of our state are coming together to help ease the suffering of individuals who lost loved ones, and help this strong community get back on its feet.”

Star Birthdays

Musician Kix Brooks performs at NASH FM 94.7's Musician Kix Brooks performs at NASH FM 94.7's "NASH BASH" country music concert at Roseland Ballroom on Feb. 19, 2013 in New York.
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Musician Kix Brooks performs at NASH FM 94.7's
Musician Kix Brooks performs at NASH FM 94.7's "NASH BASH" country music concert at Roseland Ballroom on Feb. 19, 2013 in New York.
On May 12, Country performer Kix Brooks will celebrate his 58th birthday.  The Louisiana native made two solo appearances on the Country chart in the 1980s before teaming with Ronnie Dunn in 1991 to form the popular duo Brooks & Dunn.  The duo was named the Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year 14 times since 1992.  In 2006, Kix took over as host of the syndicated radio show “American Country Countdown.”  Brooks & Dunn split up in 2010 after performing together for 20 years.  In September 2012, Kix released the solo album “New To This Town.”  Its title track features Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

British rock singer Steve Winwood will celebrate his 65th birthday on May 12.  Winwood was the lead singer of the Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and Traffic.  In the 1980s, he launched his solo career and later recorded the Number One songs “Higher Love” and “Roll With It.”  In 2003, Winwood released “About Time” on his own record label, Wincraft Music.  In 2004, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Traffic.  Steve played keyboards on a track on Christina Aguilera’s 2006 “Back To Basics” album.  The song, “Makes Me Wanna Pray,” also features a sample of the Traffic classic, “Glad.”  In 2008, Winwood released his latest album, “Nine Lives.”  It debuted at Number 12 on the Billboard 200 to give him his highest entry ever on that chart.  In 2010, Winwood’s five-decade career was showcased on the four-CD set, “Revolutions - The Very Best of Steve Winwood.  Next month, he’ll kick off a 16-date European tour, which will be followed by six U.S. shows with the Allman Brothers in August.  In October, Winwood begins a North American tour with Rod Stewart.

Stevie Wonder and the Rickey Minor Band perform “Master Blaster”, “My Cherie Amour” and “Sir Duke” as a tribute to Dick Clark at at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards on Nov. 18, 2012, in Los Angeles.Stevie Wonder and the Rickey Minor Band perform “Master Blaster”, “My Cherie Amour” and “Sir Duke” as a tribute to Dick Clark at at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards on Nov. 18, 2012, in Los Angeles.
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Stevie Wonder and the Rickey Minor Band perform “Master Blaster”, “My Cherie Amour” and “Sir Duke” as a tribute to Dick Clark at at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards on Nov. 18, 2012, in Los Angeles.
Stevie Wonder and the Rickey Minor Band perform “Master Blaster”, “My Cherie Amour” and “Sir Duke” as a tribute to Dick Clark at at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards on Nov. 18, 2012, in Los Angeles.
On May 13, legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder will turn 63.  At age 12, he recorded his first hit single, “Fingertips, Part 2.”  Wonder’s popularity peaked in the 1970s with songs such as “Superstition,” “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “Sir Duke.”  His 1995 studio collection, “Conversation Peace,” marked his first non-soundtrack album in eight years.  That same year, Motown Records also released his live double-CD, “Natural Wonder,” which was recorded in Osaka and Tel Aviv.  In 1998, he recorded “True To Your Heart,” a duet with 98 Degrees that appeared on the soundtrack to the animated Disney film “Mulan.”  In 2003, Motown Records released the tribute album, “Conception: An Interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s Songs.”  Included are many of his classic songs performed by Brian McKnight, Eric Clapton, Marc Anthony, India.Arie, and others.  Stevie received the Johnny Mercer Award at the 2004 Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony.  The award honors a songwriter who “has previously been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and who has continued to establish a history of outstanding creative work.”   Wonder was first inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.  In 2005, Universal Motown Records released Wonder’s latest album, “A Time 2 Love.”  Stevie received his 25th Grammy Award in 2007.  He won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for his duet with Tony Bennett, “For Once In My Life.”  In 2008, Stevie performed his first European tour in more than a decade.  In 2009, he was named a Messenger of Peace by the United Nations (UN).  The title is given to “individuals widely recognized for their talents in the arts, academia, literature, sports and entertainment, (who) help to raise worldwide awareness of UN ideals and activities.”  In 2011, Stevie was inducted into the Apollo Theater’s Apollo Legends Hall of Fame. 

Singer Darius Rucker celebrates his 47th birthday on May 13. Darius formed the pop/rock band Hootie and the Blowfish with Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld.  Their debut album, “Cracked Rear View,” was released in 1994 and went on to sell 25 million copies worldwide.  Since then, the group has released five more albums.  Their latest was 2005’s “Looking For Lucky.”  Darius recorded his first solo album in 2002.  His second solo project was the 2008 Country album, “Learn To Live.”  Its first three singles, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Alright,” all reached Number One on the Country chart.  Darius also topped that chart with “Come Back Song” and “This,” the first two singles released from his second Country album, “Charleston, S.C. 1966.”  Last month, he reached Number One on the Hot Country Songs chart with his cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.”  It’s the second hit from Darius’ new album “True Believers,” which will be out on May 21.

Janet Jackson at the auction for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit during the 65th Cannes film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, May 24, 2012.Janet Jackson at the auction for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit during the 65th Cannes film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, May 24, 2012.
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Janet Jackson at the auction for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit during the 65th Cannes film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, May 24, 2012.
Janet Jackson at the auction for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit during the 65th Cannes film festival, in Cap d'Antibes, southern France, May 24, 2012.
Singer Janet Jackson will celebrate her 47th birthday on May 16.  One of three daughters in the famous musical Jackson family, Janet launched her solo career in the early 1980s.  Her albums “Control” and “Rhythm Nation 1814” both contained several Top 10 singles.  In 1991, Janet left A&M Records and signed a 32-million-dollar deal with Virgin Records.  Her debut album, “Janet,” sold more than six million copies and spawned six chart hits.  In 1995, A&M Records released her anthology, “Design of a Decade - 1986/1996.”  1997’s “The Velvet Rope” featured collaborations with Vanessa Mae, Joni Mitchell, Blackstreet and Q-Tip.  The album produced the hit “Together Again.”  In 2006, she fulfilled her obligations to Virgin Records with the album “20 Years Old.”  In 2008, Island Def Jam released her latest CD, “Discipline,” which made a Number One debut on the Billboard 200.  Only one of its four singles cracked the Top 20.  In 2010, Janet had a Number One dance hit with “Make Me.”  The track appears on her second greatest hits CD, “Number Ones/The Best.”  Janet’s 2011 self-help book, “True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself,” was a New York Times Number One best seller.  This past February, Janet announced that she secretly married Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana in 2012. 

On May 18, Country singer George Strait will turn 61.  Since the early 1980s, he has sold more than 68 million albums in the U.S.  In 1992, Strait made his major film debut in “Pure Country” playing Rusty Wyatt, a singer who gave up his superstar life to return home to his roots.  Strait set a career record with the lead single from his 2008 Grammy-winning album, “Troubadour.”  “I Saw God Today” debuted at Number 19 and made it to Number One in only 11 weeks.  In 2007, Strait was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Two years later, he received the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade Award.  Strait’s 2011 album, “Here For A Good Time,” produced two Top 5 hits, the title track and “Love’s Gonna Make It Alright.”  His current Top 10 Country Airplay hit, “Give It All We Got Tonight,” is the lead single from Strait’s new album, “Love Is Everything.”  (“Give It All We Got Tonight”  HD-201245C/See Music Library staff)

Awards Presentations / Winners:

Miranda Lambert poses with her awards for female vocalist of the year, song of the year, and single record of the year backstage at the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas, April 7, 2013.Miranda Lambert poses with her awards for female vocalist of the year, song of the year, and single record of the year backstage at the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas, April 7, 2013.
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Miranda Lambert poses with her awards for female vocalist of the year, song of the year, and single record of the year backstage at the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas, April 7, 2013.
Miranda Lambert poses with her awards for female vocalist of the year, song of the year, and single record of the year backstage at the 48th ACM Awards in Las Vegas, April 7, 2013.
Luke Bryan, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert lead the nominees for the 2013 CMT Music Awards.  Each received four nominations, including Video of the Year.  Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Florida Georgia Line and Rascal Flatts follow with three nods apiece.  Aldean is co-hosting the June 5 CMT Music Awards with actress Kristin Bell.  The show will air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Look Who's Going On Tour!

From left to right, singer Patrick Stump, drummer Andy Hurley, musician Joe Trohman, and musician Pete Wentz of the rock band Fall Out Boy arrive at Wango Tango 2013 at The Home Depot Center on May 11, 2013 in Carson, Calif.From left to right, singer Patrick Stump, drummer Andy Hurley, musician Joe Trohman, and musician Pete Wentz of the rock band Fall Out Boy arrive at Wango Tango 2013 at The Home Depot Center on May 11, 2013 in Carson, Calif.
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From left to right, singer Patrick Stump, drummer Andy Hurley, musician Joe Trohman, and musician Pete Wentz of the rock band Fall Out Boy arrive at Wango Tango 2013 at The Home Depot Center on May 11, 2013 in Carson, Calif.
From left to right, singer Patrick Stump, drummer Andy Hurley, musician Joe Trohman, and musician Pete Wentz of the rock band Fall Out Boy arrive at Wango Tango 2013 at The Home Depot Center on May 11, 2013 in Carson, Calif.
Fall Out Boy is supporting its new album Save Rock and Roll with a North American tour that begins on May 14 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The pop-rock band will stop in 34 cities through June 30.  Fall Out Boy kicks off the European leg on July 25 in Munich, Germany.  Save Rock and Roll is the group’s first new album since 2008’s Folie a Deux.
 
On May 17, Country singer Luke Bryan will launch the second U.S. leg of his “Dirt Road Diaries Tour.”  The 34-city run begins in Virginia Beach, Virginia and wraps up October 26 in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Special guests on the outing include new Country duo Florida Georgia Line and husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square.  Luke’s upcoming fourth studio album is expected to be out later this year.  Its debut single, “Crash My Party,” peaked at Number 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

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Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.