News / Arts & Entertainment

Timberlake Tops Billboard 200 Chart; Clarkson Outsells Fellow 'Idols'

Justin Timberlake arrives at the BRIT Awards 2013 at the o2 Arena on Feb. 20, 2013, in London.
Justin Timberlake arrives at the BRIT Awards 2013 at the o2 Arena on Feb. 20, 2013, in London.
Mary Morningstar
Justin Timberlake’s first new album in six years, The 20/20 Experience, sold 968,000 copies its first week of release, making it the biggest debut of 2013.  The album also tops charts in Germany, Australia, Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and throughout Asia, and is the fastest-selling release worldwide in iTunes history.  Justin also debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart with his 2006 album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which moved 684,000 copies its first week.  Also arriving in this week’s Top 10 is Country newcomer Kacey Musgraves, who enters the list at Number 2 with her debut album, Same Trailer Different Park.

Clarkson Remains American Idol's Best Seller

Kelly Clarkson poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 2012.Kelly Clarkson poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 2012.
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Kelly Clarkson poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 2012.
Kelly Clarkson poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, Nov. 5, 2012.
For the past eight months, Kelly Clarkson has held the record for having the best-selling single by an American Idol winner.  She accomplished that by selling 4.245 million copies of “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”  American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips recently took the lead with his smash hit “Home,” which has sold 4.262 million copies.  Prior to Kelly Clarkson, American Idol Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood held the record for five years with “Before He Cheats.”  Its total sales currently stand at 3.53 million.  Carrie still holds the record for having the biggest-selling album by an American Idol alum.  Her 2005 debut release, “Some Hearts,” has sold more than 7.3 million copies.  This week (April 4), Carrie will appear on “American Idol” to premiere her new single, “See You Again.”

Warwick Files for Bankruptcy

Dionne Warwick after receiving the lifetime acheivement award at the 2012 MOBO Awards in Liverpool, England, Nov. 3, 2012.Dionne Warwick after receiving the lifetime acheivement award at the 2012 MOBO Awards in Liverpool, England, Nov. 3, 2012.
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Dionne Warwick after receiving the lifetime acheivement award at the 2012 MOBO Awards in Liverpool, England, Nov. 3, 2012.
Dionne Warwick after receiving the lifetime acheivement award at the 2012 MOBO Awards in Liverpool, England, Nov. 3, 2012.
Dionne Warwick has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  The 72-year-old singer reportedly owes the Internal Revenue Service $10 million in back taxes.  Warwick is the cousin of the late pop icon Whitney Houston.  According to the Associated Press, Warwick’s financial problems are due to “bad financial management in the 1990s.”  Although she paid the actual taxes, penalties and interest have continued to accumulate.

John Denver Tribute Album Planned

Western singer John Denver, 1997.Western singer John Denver, 1997.
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Western singer John Denver, 1997.
Western singer John Denver, 1997.
On April 2, ATO Records will release the John Denver tribute album, The Music Is You.  Among the artists who contributed their version of Denver’s hits include My Morning Jacket, Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dave Matthews and Train.  A portion of the proceeds from sales of the album will benefit the American conservation organization Wilderness Society.  John Denver was killed in October 1997 when the experimental plane he was piloting crashed off the coast of California.

New Documentary Centers on Stevie Nicks

Singer Stevie Nicks waves to photographers at the premiere of the documentary film Singer Stevie Nicks waves to photographers at the premiere of the documentary film "Sound City", Jan. 31, 2013 in Los Angeles.
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Singer Stevie Nicks waves to photographers at the premiere of the documentary film
Singer Stevie Nicks waves to photographers at the premiere of the documentary film "Sound City", Jan. 31, 2013 in Los Angeles.
Stevie Nicks’ documentary “In Your Dreams” will premiere in Los Angeles on March 31.  Stevie will attend the first screening to introduce the film and take part in a question-and-answer session with the audience.  “In Your Dreams” was filmed in Stevie’s home while she was working on her latest solo album with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart.  The documentary opens in 70 U.S. theaters on April 2.

Smokey Robinson Signs New Record Deal

Smokey Robinson talks to the media at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert in New York, Oct. 29, 2009.Smokey Robinson talks to the media at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert in New York, Oct. 29, 2009.
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Smokey Robinson talks to the media at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert in New York, Oct. 29, 2009.
Smokey Robinson talks to the media at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert in New York, Oct. 29, 2009.
Verve Music Group Chairman and acclaimed producer David Foster recently signed Smokey Robinson to the label.  The Motown legend’s first album for Verve will be a duets project, due out later this year.   “I’m really excited about signing with Verve Music Group to release this upcoming album," Smokey said. "Not only do I have a musical history with the guys involved, but a longstanding friendship as well.  I’m looking forward to bringing our talents to the table as we collaborate on this project.”  The still-to-be-titled album will feature new duet versions of Smokey’s classic hits, including “My Girl,” “Cruisin’” and “Tears of a Clown.”

New Album Releases / April 2:

“10” by New Kids On The Block
“Pioneer” by The Band Perry
“Victim of Love” by Charles Bradley
“Perfect Imperfection” by Sean Forbes
“Indigo Meadow” by The Black Angels
“The Living Room Sessions” by B.J. Thomas
“My Shame Is True” by Alkaline Trio.

Star Birthdays

On March 31, composer and trumpeter Herb Alpert celebrated his 78th birthday.  Alpert began playing the trumpet at age eight.  In 1962, he formed A&M Records with Jerry Moss.  In addition to many chart hits with his band The Tijuana Brass, Alpert recorded two solo Number One singles, “This Guy’s In Love with You” and “Rise.”  Throughout his career, Alpert has won eight Grammy Awards.  In 1990, Alpert and Moss sold A&M Records to PolyGram for more than $500 million.  The two partners formed Almo Sounds Records in 1994.  That label released Alpert’s 35th album, “Herb Alpert & Colors,” in June 1999.  In 2006, Alpert and Jerry Moss were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Alpert collaborated with his wife, Lani Hall, on his latest album, “I Feel You.”  Alpert was recently honored at a renaming ceremony for the Harlem School of the Arts.  The New York school is now named the Herb Alpert Center.  According to a press release, the Herb Alpert Foundation was instrumental in rebuilding the school after a temporary closure. 

April 2 marks the birth date of soul singer Marvin Gaye (b. 1939).  Gaye was born in Washington, D.C. and began singing in his local church.  His early R&B hits included “Hitch Hiker” and “Can I Get a Witness,” which were later recorded by the Rolling Stones.  In the mid-1960s, he teamed with Tammi Terrell to record several duets.  They included “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Your Precious Love” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”  Gaye’s biggest hit of the 1960s was “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which was a Number One single for seven weeks.  His 1971 album, “What’s Going On,” produced three smash hits - the title track, “Mercy Mercy Me” and “Inner City Blues.”  The title track from his next album, 1973’s “Let Get It On,” also reached Number One.  Gaye made his final chart appearance in 1982 with the Top 5 hit “Sexual Healing.”  On April 1, 1984, he physically attacked his father for verbally abusing his mother.  Marvin Gaye Sr. responded by shooting and killing Marvin Jr.

Leona Lewis appears on MTV's Leona Lewis appears on MTV's "Total Request Live", Jan. 28, 2008, in New York
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Leona Lewis appears on MTV's
Leona Lewis appears on MTV's "Total Request Live", Jan. 28, 2008, in New York
British pop singer Leona Lewis will celebrate her 28th birthday on April 3.  In 2006, Lewis won the British reality show “X Factor.”  She earned her American breakthrough with the smash hit “Bleeding Love,” which reached Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.  Leona became the first British female artist to top that chart in more than 20 years.  Her 2008 debut album, “Spirit,” entered the Billboard 200 at Number One.  Its other hits include “Better In Time,” “Run” and “I Will Be.”  Her second album, “Echo,” sold 2.6 million copies worldwide.  2012’s “Glassheart” was not released in the United States.  Leona recently teamed with The Body Shop to launch her own fragrance and cosmetic line. 

Singer Tony Orlando will turn 69 on April 3.  Orlando performed as lead singer of the 1970s pop group Dawn, which recorded such Number One hits as “Knock Three Times,” “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Ole Oak Tree” and “He Don't Love You (Like I Love You).”  In 2005, Tony reunited with Dawn to record their first Christmas album.  It marked the first time they had recorded together in 28 years. 

April 4 marks the birth date of the late blues guitarist Muddy Waters (born 1915).  Born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, he earned his nickname as a young child because of his fondness for playing in the mud.  In 1943, Waters moved to Chicago, where he led bands that included Buddy Guy, Otis Spann, Junior Wells, James Cotton and Willie Dixon.  In 1976, guitarist Johnny Winter helped Waters secure a recording deal with Blue Sky Records.  Waters’ four albums for the label became his biggest-selling releases ever.  In 1983, Waters died in his sleep at age 68.  In 1997, Buddy Guy, Keb’ ‘Mo, John Hiatt, Phoebe Snow and others paid tribute to Waters in a performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C.  “A Tribute To Muddy Waters, King of the Blues” was released in 1999.

On April 5, rapper and producer Pharrell Williams turns 40.  Pharrell and Chad Hugo make up The Neptunes, a Grammy-winning production team responsible for hits by Mase, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Diddy, Britney Spears, Nelly, No Doubt, Justin Timberlake, and many others.  In 2006, Pharrell released his first solo album.  “In My Mind” includes his Top 5 U.K. hit “Can I Have It Like That,” which features singer Gwen Stefani.  The album also produced the Number One U.K. single “Angel,” featuring Kanye West.  Pharrell has also recorded four albums with his hip-hop band N*E*R*D.  In addition to his career in music, he runs his own clothing company, Billionaire Boys Club, and has a line of shoes called Ice Cream Footware.  Pharrell is currently working on new albums by Miley Cyrus and Solange Knowles, and he’s featured on Robin Thicke’s brand new single, “Blurred Lines.”

Country singer-songwriter Merle Haggard celebrates his 76th birthday on April 6.  In his late teens, Haggard was arrested for burglary and served three years in San Quentin prison.  Following his release in 1960, he performed in nightclubs.  Two years later, Haggard signed his first recording contract.  In 1965, he switched to Capitol Records and formed his band The Strangers.  Throughout his long career, Haggard recorded more than three dozen Number One hits, including “Mama Tried,” “Okie From Muskogee” and “If We Make It Through December.”  In 1994, Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  That same year, he was the subject of two tribute collections, “Tulare Dust: A Songwriter’s Tribute to Merle Haggard” and “Mama’s Hungry Eyes: A Tribute to Merle Haggard.”  In 2003, Merle released “Haggard Like Never Before” on his own Hag Records.  That was followed by two pop standards collections, “Unforgettable” and “Chicago Wind.”  In 2006, Merle received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  He collaborated with Willie Nelson and Ray Price on his 2007 album, “Last of the Breed.”  Merle underwent cancer surgery in 2009.  After making a full recovery, he performed a North American tour in support of his “I Am What I Am” album.  In 2010, Haggard received a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor for his contributions to the arts.  Last year, Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened the new exhibit, The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and California Country.”  The exhibit, narrated by Dwight Yoakam, runs through December 31, 2013.  Merle is currently performing a U.S. concert tour to support his latest album, “Working In Tennessee.” 

Look Who's Going On Tour!

On April 4, legendary rock band Fleetwood Mac will begin a 48-date North American tour in Columbus, Ohio.  During an interview with Billboard at the recent South By Southwest Festival in Texas, group member Stevie Nicks discussed the set list for the shows.  She said, “We go from ‘Go Your Own Way’ to ‘Sara’ to ‘Never Going Back’ to ‘Landslide.’  This time we’re actually doing ‘Sisters of the Moon,’ which we haven’t done since 1979 or 1980.”  European concerts run from September 20 to October 25.

Rock singer Meat Loaf kicks off his “Last At Bat” tour on April 5 in Glasgow, Scotland.  He’ll play 17 European shows through May 17.  Later this year, Meat Loaf will launch the U.S. leg of his final tour.  He’s performing his 1977 breakthrough album “Bat Out Of Hell” in its entirety.

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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.”