News / Arts & Entertainment

Jay-Z Tops Billboard 200; France Honors Bono

Jay-Z attends
Jay-Z attends "The Great Gatsby" world premiere at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, May 1, 2013.
Mary Morningstar
This week, Jay-Z becomes the fourth rap artist to top the Billboard 200 chart in as many weeks.  According to Nielsen SoundScan, he sold 527,000 copies of his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail its first week of release.  Jay-Z is expected to keep his place at Number One for a second week.  If he does, he’ll become the first rap artist in two years to hold the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart for multiple weeks.  Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV spent two weeks at Number One in September 2011.  Magna Carta Holy Grail is Jay-Z’s 13th Number One album.  Also debuting in the Top 10 on this week’s Billboard 200 chart are Ciara’s self-titled album (Number 2) and Skylar Grey’s Don’t Look Down (Number 8).

Lambert, RCA Records Part Ways

Adam Lambert poses backstage at the Adam Lambert poses backstage at the "American Idol" finale at the Nokia Theatre at L.A., May 16, 2013, in Los Angeles.
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Adam Lambert poses backstage at the
Adam Lambert poses backstage at the "American Idol" finale at the Nokia Theatre at L.A., May 16, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Adam Lambert sent a letter to The Hollywood Reporter announcing his departure from RCA Records.  The label reportedly asked the 2009 American Idol runner-up to record an album of cover songs for his third release.  “My heart is simply not in doing a covers album,” Lambert explained.  He added that he’s “deep into writing new material with some very talented colleagues.  …This music is where my heart is.”  Lambert’s 2009 debut album, For Your Entertainment,”sold 847,000 copies in the United States.  His sophomore release, Trespassing, has moved only 148,000 copies.

Fantasia's Heads Back to Broadway

Eminem Tops Billboard 200 Chart Again; Blondie to Release New AlbumEminem Tops Billboard 200 Chart Again; Blondie to Release New Album
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Eminem Tops Billboard 200 Chart Again; Blondie to Release New Album
Eminem Tops Billboard 200 Chart Again; Blondie to Release New Album
2004 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino is heading back to Broadway.  The Grammy-winner will star in “After Midnight,” a musical about Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.  Barrino’s run begins October 18 and ends February 9, 2014.  She last appeared on Broadway in “The Color Purple.”

Bono Awarded France's Highest Cultural Honor

Irish singer Bono poses for media as he meets youth ambassadors of the ONE campaign together with with the President Joachim Gauck in Berlin, Oct. 8, 2012.Irish singer Bono poses for media as he meets youth ambassadors of the ONE campaign together with with the President Joachim Gauck in Berlin, Oct. 8, 2012.
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Irish singer Bono poses for media as he meets youth ambassadors of the ONE campaign together with with the President Joachim Gauck in Berlin, Oct. 8, 2012.
Irish singer Bono poses for media as he meets youth ambassadors of the ONE campaign together with with the President Joachim Gauck in Berlin, Oct. 8, 2012.
France’s Culture Minister, Aurelie Filippetti, recently awarded U2’s lead singer Bono with a Commander of Arts and Letters.  He received the country’s highest cultural honor for his artistic contributions and philanthropic work.   “This is a huge honor for me, but really it belongs to the band," Bono said.  "I’ve got the biggest mouth and the loudest voice, but the music we make comes from each other.”


New Album Releases / July 23

“My Favorite Picture of You” by Guy Clark
“Stars Dance” by Selena Gomez
“Brighter Than the Sun” by Kyle Andrews
“Blue” by Joe Silva
“The Argument” by Grant Hart
 “The Smurfs 2 (Music From and Inspired By)” the original motion picture soundtrack

Musical Events / Festivals / Benefits

On July 23, Oklahoma City will host the “Rock For Oklahoma” concert to aid victims of the May tornadoes that devastated the area.  Performers signed on to the event include Kings of Leon, Jackson Browne, the Flaming Lips, Built To Spill and Grace Potter, among others.  All proceeds will go to central Oklahoma community organizations and charities.

The 2013 Newport Folk Festival will be held July 26-28 in Newport, Rhode Island.  Beck, Feist, The Avett Brothers and The Lumineers are among the many artists scheduled to appear.  Producer George Wein founded the Newport Folk Festival in 1958.  The annual festival is held at Fort Adams, located at the mouth of Newport Harbor.  In addition to concerts on four stages, the festival features a variety of food vendors and arts and crafts.

Star Birthdays

U.S band member of The Eagles, Don Henley, arrives before a screening of History of The Eagles Part One, April 25, 2013.U.S band member of The Eagles, Don Henley, arrives before a screening of History of The Eagles Part One, April 25, 2013.
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U.S band member of The Eagles, Don Henley, arrives before a screening of History of The Eagles Part One, April 25, 2013.
U.S band member of The Eagles, Don Henley, arrives before a screening of History of The Eagles Part One, April 25, 2013.
Don Henley will celebrate his 66th birthday on July 22.  In the 1960s, he began his music career as the drummer in Linda Ronstadt’s band.  In 1971, Henley helped form the Eagles.  The group’s Number One songs include “Best of My Love,” “Hotel California” and “Heartache Tonight.”  The Eagles’ 1976 album, “Hotel California,” sold 16 million copies in the U.S.  Henley pursued a solo career in 1982.  He won seven Grammy Awards as a solo artist and recorded such hits as “Dirty Laundry,” “The Boys of Summer” and “The End of the Innocence.”  In 1995, Henley performed a reunion tour with the Eagles, which was one of the highest-grossing concert tours of that year.  The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.  In 2000, Warner Brothers Records released Henley’s latest solo album, “Inside Job.”  It marked his first collection of new songs since 1989 and includes collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, Glenn Frey, and others.  In 2007, the Eagles recorded “Long Road Out Of Eden,” their first album of all new songs since 1979.  The album debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart and also topped charts in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway.  The Eagles kicked off their “History of the Eagles” tour on July 6.  The concerts will feature the band’s many hits, plus songs from the members’ solo catalogs.

In this photo provided by NBC, recording artist Alison Krauss performs on the In this photo provided by NBC, recording artist Alison Krauss performs on the "Today" show Thursday, April 14, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, NBC)
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In this photo provided by NBC, recording artist Alison Krauss performs on the
In this photo provided by NBC, recording artist Alison Krauss performs on the "Today" show Thursday, April 14, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, NBC)
On July 23, Country and bluegrass singer and fiddler Alison Krauss turns 42.  The multi-Grammy-winning performer began playing the fiddle at age 5.  At 14, she was signed to Rounder Records, which released her debut album in 1987.  By incorporating contemporary melodies into her music, Alison expanded the boundaries of bluegrass and also achieved crossover success in the Country field.  In 1993, she became the first bluegrass artist to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in nearly three decades.  Four years later, she and her band Union Station recorded their fifth album, “So Long So Wrong.”  Alison’s 1999 album, “Forget About It,” was followed by her 2001 Rounder Records release, “New Favorite.”  “New Favorite” won the Best Bluegrass Album award at the 2002 Grammy ceremony.  Its hit single, “The Lucky One,” earned two additional Grammys.  In 2004, Alison’s duet with Country star Brad Paisley, “Whiskey Lullaby,” reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s Country Singles chart and brought them several industry awards.  That same year, Alison Krauss & Union Station recorded the Grammy-winning album, “Lonely Runs Both Ways.”  She produced Country star Alan Jackson’s 2006 album, “Like Red On A Rose.”  Alison’s 2007 release, “A Hundred Miles or More,” is a collection of her solo material, including several songs that were featured on film soundtracks and tribute albums.  She also added five previously-unreleased tracks.  Also in 2007, Alison teamed with Led Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant to record the critically-acclaimed album, “Raising Sand.”  Its single “Gone Gone Gone” won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.  Alison Krauss & Union Station’s latest CD, “Paper Airplane,” earned a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.  Earlier this month, Alison celebrated her 20th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member with a special performance at the iconic venue. 

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.
Pop singer and actress Jennifer Lopez will celebrate her 43rd birthday on July 24.  The New York native began dancing and singing in musical theater during her childhood years.  She made her professional breakthrough on the television show “In Living Color” and as a dancer in a Janet Jackson video.  Lopez attracted worldwide attention when she starred in the 1997 biographical film about slain Latin singer Selena.  In 1999, she recorded her debut album “On The 6,” which produced the Number One single, “If You Had My Love.”  Other hits included “Waiting For Tonight,” “Feelin’ So Good” and “Let’s Get Loud.”  Jennifer’s second album, “J. Lo,” featured the hits “Love Don’t Cost A Thing,” “Play,” and her controversial duet with rapper Ja Rule, “I’m Real.”  She has also starred in many films, including “The Cell,” “Angel Eyes,” “The Wedding Planner,” “Maid In Manhattan,” “Jersey Girl,” the box office bomb “Gigli,” “Shall We Dance” and the 2005 romantic comedy “Monster-In-Law.”  In 2004, Jennifer married Latin pop star Mark Anthony.  The following year, she recorded the album “Rebirth.”  Jennifer’s first full Spanish-language album, “Como Ama una Mujer,” was released in 2007.  That same year, Marc and Jennifer appeared together in “El Canante.”  The film told the life story of salsa star Hector Lavoe.  Her 2007 English-language album, “Brave,” failed to generate much commercial success.  In 2008, Jennifer gave birth to twins, daughter Emme and son Max.  She left Sony Music Group in 2010 and signed with Def Jam Records for the release on her latest album, “Love?”  In 2011, Jennifer and her husband separated after seven years of marriage.  She’s now dating her former backup dancer, Casper Smart.

Rolling Stones band members (L-R) Charles Watts, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards (file photo)Rolling Stones band members (L-R) Charles Watts, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards (file photo)
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Rolling Stones band members (L-R) Charles Watts, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards (file photo)
Rolling Stones band members (L-R) Charles Watts, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards (file photo)
On July 26, the Rolling Stones’ lead vocalist Mick Jagger will celebrate his 70th birthday.  Jagger helped form the Rolling Stones in 1963.  The group’s many hits include “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Women” and “Miss You.”  Jagger has also recorded several solo albums.  In 1985, he and David Bowie reached the Top 10 with “Dancing In The Street,” a song they performed at London’s “Live Aid” benefit concert.  The Rolling Stones’ 1994-95 “Voodoo Lounge” tour, in support of their album of the same name, grossed over 250-million-dollars and was seen by more than six-and-a-half million people worldwide.  Performances from the tour appear on the group’s 1995 release, “Stripped.”  In 1997, the band recorded the album “Bridges To Babylon,” which was followed by 1998’s “No Security.”  From 2005 to 2007, the Rolling Stones performed worldwide in support of their latest album, “A Bigger Bang.”  Seven hours of performances from the outing were released on the 2008 four-DVD set, “The Biggest Bang.”  Performances from their 2006 tour were documented in director Martin Scorcese’s 2008 film, “Shine A Light.”  In 2011, Jagger collaborated with Joss Stone, The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, Damian Marley and A.R. Rahman in the group “SuperHeavy.”  Last year, the Rolling Stones celebrated their 50th anniversary in music with the launch of a world tour and new compilation album, “GRRR!” 

Singer Maureen McGovern will turn 64 on July 27.  In 1973, McGovern recorded the million-selling single, “The Morning After.”  Her recording of “We May Never Love Like This Again,” from the 1974 motion picture “Towering Inferno,” earned McGovern an Academy Award.  In addition to her recording career, McGovern has appeared in motion pictures and on Broadway.  In 2003, McGovern recorded the album “Works of Heart.”  She donated all artist royalties from the collection to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).  Founded in 1998, AMTA works to advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy.  McGovern’s latest album, “A Long and Winding Road,” features songs by legendary singer-songwriters, including Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Webb, Paul Simon, Carole King, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Laura Nyro.  In 2011, McGovern opened the traveling show “Dangling Conversations” in New York City.  The show featured her versions of classic songs by legendary singer-songwriters, including Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, J.D. Souther, Joni Mitchell, Jonatha Brooke, Burt Bacharach, Don McLean and Pete Seeger. 

Awards Presentations / Winners

Justin Timberlake performs at the MasterCard Priceless Premieres concert on May 5, 2013 in New York.Justin Timberlake performs at the MasterCard Priceless Premieres concert on May 5, 2013 in New York.
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Justin Timberlake performs at the MasterCard Priceless Premieres concert on May 5, 2013 in New York.
Justin Timberlake performs at the MasterCard Priceless Premieres concert on May 5, 2013 in New York.
Justin Timberlake and Macklemore & Lewis lead the nominees for the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.  Each received six nods, including Video of the Year.  Bruno Mars follows with four nominations, and Pink, Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus and 30 Seconds To Mars earned three apiece.  The 2013 MTV Video Music Awards will be presented on August 25 in Brooklyn, New York.  For the full list of this year’s nominees, go to www.mtv.com.

In a previous version of this story VOA incorrectly reported that George Wein was deceased.

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Border Crossings: Nnekai
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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.