News / Arts & Entertainment

Bon Jovi Tops Billboard 200; Bobby Brown Jailed

From left Tico Torres, Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, and Richie Sambora from US rock band Bon Jovi share a laugh backstage in Munich, June 12, 2011
From left Tico Torres, Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan, and Richie Sambora from US rock band Bon Jovi share a laugh backstage in Munich, June 12, 2011
Mary Morningstar
Bon Jovi Tops Billboard 200

New Jersey rock band Bon Jovi earns its third consecutive Number One debut on the Billboard 200 chart this week with What About Now.  Since 1986, the group has reached the top spot five times.  Landing on the list at Number 2 is David Bowie’s The Next Day.  This marks the British rock legend’s highest-charting album ever.  The Next Day also gave Bowie his first Number One album in the United Kingdom in 20 years.  Also posting Top 10 debuts on this week’s Billboard 200 are Let The Future Begin by Passion (Number 4), All Around The World by Mindless Behavior (Number 6), Old Sock by Eric Clapton (Number 7) and the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s Sound City - Real To Reel (Number 8).

Bobby Brown Jailed, Released

Singer Bobby Brown, former husband of the late Whitney Houston performs at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., Feb. 18, 2012.Singer Bobby Brown, former husband of the late Whitney Houston performs at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., Feb. 18, 2012.
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Singer Bobby Brown, former husband of the late Whitney Houston performs at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., Feb. 18, 2012.
Singer Bobby Brown, former husband of the late Whitney Houston performs at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., Feb. 18, 2012.
R&B singer Bobby Brown reported to a Los Angeles jail on March 20 to begin serving a 55-day sentence for a DUI charge and driving on a suspended license.  Due to California’s jail overcrowding, the 44-year-old was released eight hours after his arrival.  Brown will instead be monitored through an electronic ankle bracelet, be on probation for four years and is required to attend an 18-month alcohol rehab program.


New Season of 'The Voice' Features Shakira, Usher

Colombian singer Shakira performs at the opening concert for the soccer World Cup at Orlando stadium in Soweto, South Africa, 10 jun 2010Colombian singer Shakira performs at the opening concert for the soccer World Cup at Orlando stadium in Soweto, South Africa, 10 jun 2010
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Colombian singer Shakira performs at the opening concert for the soccer World Cup at Orlando stadium in Soweto, South Africa, 10 jun 2010
Colombian singer Shakira performs at the opening concert for the soccer World Cup at Orlando stadium in Soweto, South Africa, 10 jun 2010
On March 25, NBC will premiere the fourth season of its popular reality singing competition The Voice.  Two new music stars join Blake Shelton and Adam Levine to judge the contestants this season.  Latin pop singer Shakira replaces Christina Aguilera and R&B star Usher takes over for Cee Lo Green.  Guest mentors include Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott (Team Adam), Sheryl Crow (Team Blake), Pharrell Williams (Team Usher) and Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden (Team Shakira).

Jolley Eliminated on American Idol

Paul Jolley, 23, said goodbye to his fellow American Idol contestants on March 21.  The week’s other bottom three vote-getters included Amber Holcomb and Devin Velez.  Following his elimination, Jolley said, “Now that I’ve been on Idol, I’m moving forward in my journey through life.  And having all these fans means I’m not alone anymore.  They’re going to be there for me 100 percent.”  The final eight “American Idol” contestants will perform classic Motown tunes on this week’s competition (March 27).

Record Company Holds Auction for Newtown Shooting Victims

Republic Records will hold its “Music For Newtown” online auction March 25-27 to benefit the “Sandy Hook School Support Fund.”  The fund is providing support to those affected by the shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last December.  Up for sale are two tickets to Tim McGraw’s June 30 concert in Holmdel, New Jersey and autographed items from The Eagles, Florence + The Machine, Elton John, John Mayer, Gotye, One Direction and others.

New Recordings Added to Library of Congress Registry

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. recently added 25 recordings to its audio registry.  The oldest is 1918’s “After You’ve Gone” by cabaret star Marion Harris.  Other additions includes Chubby Checker’s 1960 hit “The Twist,” Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 album “Sounds of Silence,” former Voice of America host Leo Sarkisian’s July 29, 1973 “Music Time in Africa” program, Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “Dark Side of the Moon,” and the 1977 soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever.” (Full list is available at www.loc.gov.)

New Album Releases / March 26:

 “Girl Who Got Away” by Dido
“Precious Memories II” by Alan Jackson
“Based On A True Story” by Blake Shelton
“No Matter How Far” by David Archuleta
“Lines” by Julian Lynch
“All That For This” by Crystal Bowersox
“Native” by OneRepublic
“Black Out of the Sun” by Sevendust
“Comedown Machine” by The Strokes
“Change Becomes Us” by Wire
“Carry On” (4-CD box set) by Stephen Stills

Star Birthdays

Sir Elton John speaks at the International Aids Conference in Washington, July 23, 2012.Sir Elton John speaks at the International Aids Conference in Washington, July 23, 2012.
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Sir Elton John speaks at the International Aids Conference in Washington, July 23, 2012.
Sir Elton John speaks at the International Aids Conference in Washington, July 23, 2012.
On March 25, Elton John will celebrate his 66th birthday.  During the 1970s, Elton recorded a string of Number One songs, including “Crocodile Rock,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Island Girl,” and his duet with Kiki Dee, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”  His success continued throughout the ‘80s with such hits as “Little Jeannie,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” “Nikita” and “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That.”  In 1994, Elton contributed songs to the Grammy-winning soundtrack, “The Lion King.”  “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” one of three Oscar-nominated songs from that soundtrack, won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Original Song.  In celebration of his 50th birthday in 1997, Elton’s international fan club issued two commemorative stamps.  Only five thousand stamps were postmarked.  Proceeds went to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised more than $200-million for HIV/AIDS education and support programs in 55 countries.  Also in 1997, Elton paid tribute to the late Princess Diana with the Number One single “Candle in the Wind 1997,” which he performed at her funeral.  In 1999, he collaborated with lyricist Tim Rice on songs for the Disney stage musical “Aida.”  Elton received the 2000 Grammy Legend Award for his ongoing contributions and influence in the recording field.  Elton married his partner David Furnish in 2005.  On December 25, 2010, their son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born via a surrogate.  They welcomed their second son Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John in January 2013.  In 2011, Elton launched his three-year “Million Dollar Piano” show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  He collaborated with 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell on his latest album, “The Union.”  Elton’s next album, called “The Diving Board,” will be out in September.

Aretha Franklin (July 26, 2010 file photo)Aretha Franklin (July 26, 2010 file photo)
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Aretha Franklin (July 26, 2010 file photo)
Aretha Franklin (July 26, 2010 file photo)
The “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin will turn 71 on March 25.  Her 1967 version of Otis Redding’s “Respect” went to Number One on the pop charts.  In 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Franklin has won numerous Grammys, including the 1990 Living Legends honor.  Her 1998 CD, “A Rose Is Still A Rose,” marked her first album of new material in seven years.  In 2003, Arista Records released “So Damn Happy,” which includes the Grammy-winning track “Wonderful.”  Aretha’s 2007 album, “Jewels in the Crown,” features duets with Mariah Carey, George Michael, Annie Lennox, John Legend, Elton John, Whitney Houston, Gloria Estefan, and many others.  In 2008, Aretha recorded her first-ever holiday album, “This Christmas, Aretha.”  In December 2010, she was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.  Although rumors claimed she was suffering from pancreatic cancer, Aretha never disclosed the nature of her surgery.  Her long-awaited studio album, “A Woman Falling Out of Love,” was released exclusively at Wal-Mart stores in 2011. 

Kenny Chesney performs on NBC's Kenny Chesney performs on NBC's "Today" show in New York, June 22, 2012.
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Kenny Chesney performs on NBC's
Kenny Chesney performs on NBC's "Today" show in New York, June 22, 2012.
On March 26, Country singer Kenny Chesney will turn 45.  The Tennessee native attended East Tennessee State University, where he received a marketing degree.  Kenny moved to Nashville following graduation and was hired as a songwriter at Acuff-Rose Publishing.  He signed his first recording deal in 1993.  Since then, Chesney has recorded 21 Number One Country songs.  They include “The Boys of Fall,” “Somewhere With You,” “Live A Little” and “Reality,” which all appear on his 2010 album, “Hemingway’s Whiskey.”  Last year, Kenny received the Academy of Country Music’s Crystal Milestone Award.  The honor recognized him for selling more than 10-million tickets on his 11 national concert tours.  Kenny is currently promoting his upcoming album, “Life on a Rock,” on his “No Shoes Nation” stadium tour.  The album will be out on April 30.  Its lead single, “Pirate Flag,” climbs to Number 10 on this week’s Country Airplay chart.

March 26 marks the birth date of rhythm-and-blues singer Teddy Pendergrass (born 1950).  Pendergrass got his start in the music business in 1970 as lead singer for Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes.  Six years later, he left the group to pursue a solo career.  His hits include “Close the Door” and “Two Hearts.”  A 1982 auto accident left him partially paralyzed.  Following extensive therapy, Pendergrass resumed touring in 1986.  A decade later, he co-starred in the production of “Your Arms Too Short To Box With God.”  In 1998, he co-authored his autobiography, “Truly Blessed.”  A “Greatest Hits” anthology was also released in 1998.  Teddy died on January 13, 2010 of complications from colon cancer. 

Motown legend Diana Ross celebrates her 69th birthday on March 26.  She launched her professional singing career at age 15 with The Primettes, a trio that was later renamed The Supremes.  Ross left The Supremes in 1969, and one year later, recorded the Number One song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”  Other solo hits include “Touch Me in the Morning,” “Upside Down,” and “Endless Love,” her 1981 Number One duet with Lionel Richie.  In 2005, Diana teamed with Mac cosmetics to launch her own line of makeup products.  Her latest album, “I Love You,” includes Diana’s versions of classic pop, rock and soul songs.  In 2007, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards and also earned a 2007 Kennedy Center Honor.  Last year, Diana received a Lifetime Grammy Award.

Mariah CareyMariah Carey
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Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
On March 27, pop diva Mariah Carey will celebrate her 43rd birthday.  Mariah has sold more than 200 million records worldwide.  As the best-selling female artist of the 1990s, she took 14 singles to Number One on the American charts during that decade.  In January of 2002, Virgin Records dropped Mariah from its roster.  She signed with Def Jam Records for the release of her 2002 album, “Charmbracelet.”  In 2004, she performed for the first time in the Middle East.  The shows took place in Beirut and Dubai.  Her 2005 album, “The Emancipation of Mimi,“ sold more than six million copies in the U.S. and brought her numerous industry honors, including three Grammy Awards.  Her 2008 release, “E=MC2,” debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart.  Mariah has a line of jewelry and accessories sold at Claire’s stores nationwide.  She launched her own “M” fragrance in 2007.  In 2009, Mariah appeared in the film, “Tennessee.”  Her next role was playing a social worker in the Oscar-nominated film, “Precious.”  Mariah’s 2010 holiday album, “Merry Christmas II You,” debuted at Number One on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart.  Only one other Christmas album has entered that list in the top spot.  Mariah married entertainer Nick Cannon in 2008.  She gave birth to their twins, Monroe and Moroccan, in April 2011.  Mariah is currently a judge on “American Idol” Season 12.  Her new single, “Almost Home,” appears on the soundtrack to the new Disney film, “Oz The Great and Powerful.” 

Reba McEntire's Reba McEntire's "#1s" CD
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Reba McEntire's
Reba McEntire's "#1s" CD
Country singer Reba McEntire will celebrate her 58th birthday on March 28.  Reba entered the music business at age 20 after Country singer Red Steagall heard her perform the National Anthem at a rodeo.  He later arranged for Reba to record her first demo tape, which led to a contract with Mercury Records.  Since then, she’s recorded 23 Number One Country hits.  In 2001, Reba starred on Broadway as Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun.”  In 2005, Reba launched a line of women’s clothing for Dillard’s department stores.  From October 2001 through February 2007, she starred in her own WB Network sitcom, “Reba.”  Her 2007 album, “Reba Duets” is a collection of songs she recorded with Carole King, Don Henley, Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, and others.  Its first single, “Because Of You,” a duet with “American Idol” season one winner Kelly Clarkson, reached Number 2 on the Country chart.  In late 2008, Reba left MCA Records and signed with the Nashville independent label, Valory Music Group.  In 2010, she spent four weeks at Number One with “Consider Me Gone.”  The track, which is from her album “Keep On Loving You,” became the longest running chart-topper of her career.  In 2011, Reba was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  She returned to television in 2012 to star in the situation comedy series, “Malibu Country.”  Her latest album, “All the Women I Am,” produced the Number One hit, “Turn On The Radio.”  It marked her 25th chart-topping Country song and tied Dolly Parton’s record.

Norah Jones poses for a portrait in New York, April 9, 2012.Norah Jones poses for a portrait in New York, April 9, 2012.
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Norah Jones poses for a portrait in New York, April 9, 2012.
Norah Jones poses for a portrait in New York, April 9, 2012.
On March 30, Norah Jones will turn 34.  The daughter of sitar player Ravi Shankar was born in Brooklyn, New York.  Norah’s 2002 debut album, “Come Away With Me,” sold 20-million copies worldwide and brought her five Grammy Awards.  Its title track and “Don’t Know Why” were international hits.  Her 2004 album, “Feels Like Home,” sold one million copies in the U.S. its first week of release.  Norah wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on her third album “Not Too Late,” which reached Number One in 20 countries.  In addition to her own recordings, she has collaborated with such artists as Dolly Parton, Ray Charles, Outkast, the Foo Fighters, Herbie Hancock and Q-Tip.  Norah’s 2009 album, “The Fall,” produced only one hit, “Chasing Pirates.”  She recently wrapped up a world tour that supported her latest album, “Little Broken Hearts.”

Celine Dion, Feb. 2011Celine Dion, Feb. 2011
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Celine Dion, Feb. 2011
Celine Dion, Feb. 2011
Canadian pop singer Celine Dion will celebrate her 45th birthday on March 30.  The international superstar grew up in Quebec, where she began singing at age 5.  Seven years later, Celine recorded her first song.  Manager Rene Angelil heard the tape and began guiding her career.  The two married in 1994.  Throughout the 1980s, Celine’s popularity grew in Europe, Japan, Australia, the Middle East and Russia.  In 1990, she made her breakthrough in the United States with her first English-language album, “Unison.”  At the 2004 World Music Awards, Celine was presented with the Diamond Award for being the biggest-selling female artist of all time.  At the start of 2000, she took a sabbatical from her career to spend more time with husband Rene, who was recovering from cancer.  In January of 2001, Celine gave birth to the couple’s first child, Rene Charles.  She returned to recording in 2002 with “A New Day Has Come” and followed that with the 2003 album, “One Heart.”  Also in 2003, she kicked off a four-year engagement of her theatrical production “A New Day” at the 41-hundred-seat Caesars Palace Colliseum in Las Vegas, Nevada.  In 2004, Epic Records released performances from the show on “A New Day…Live In Las Vegas.”  Celine performed a world tour in support of her 2007 album, “Taking Chances.”  In 2010, Celine gave birth to twin sons Eddy and Nelson.  She returned to Las Vegas in 2011 to begin a three-year engagement of her new show, “Celine.”  Dion is finishing work on “Water and a Flame,” her first English-language album since 2007.  Due out in October, the set will feature duets with Stevie Wonder and Ne-Yo, as well as covers of Journey’s “Open Arms” and Billy Joel’s “Lullaby.”

Singer-guitarist Eric Clapton will turn 68 on March 30.  During the 1960s, he performed with the British groups The Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith.  In 1970, he formed Derek & The Dominos.  Four years later, Clapton recorded “461 Ocean Boulevard,” his first Number One solo album.  The collection contained the chart-topping single, “I Shot the Sheriff.”  His other hits include “After Midnight,” “Lay Down Sally,” “Cocaine,” and “Tears In Heaven,” a tribute to his son Conor, who died in 1991 after falling from the 53rd story window of his mother’s New York apartment.  In 1992, Clapton performed on MTV’s “Unplugged” series, a concert that became a multi-million-selling album, and earned him seven Grammy awards.  In 2000, Eric Clapton became the first artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for a third time.  He had previously been inducted as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream.  His 2000 induction was for his solo work.  Clapton’s 2005 release, “Back Home,” marked his first collection of all new original songs in nearly five years.  In 2006, he collaborated with J.J. Cale on the album “The Road To Escondido.”  Cale is best known for writing two of Clapton’s biggest hits, “After Midnight” and “Cocaine.”  In 2007, Broadway Books published “Clapton: The Autobiography.”  Currently celebrating his 50th anniversary in music, Clapton is performing U.S. concerts to support his new album, “Old Sock.”  Guests on the album include Chaka Khan, J.J. Cale, Taj Mahal, Steve Winwood and Paul McCartney.  Clapton will take his “50 Years Further On Up The Road Tour” to Europe in May. 

Look Who's Going On Tour!

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs at the SXSW Music Festival, March 15, 2013.Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs at the SXSW Music Festival, March 15, 2013.
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Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs at the SXSW Music Festival, March 15, 2013.
Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day performs at the SXSW Music Festival, March 15, 2013.
On March 28, Green Day will kick off its 2013 tour that was postponed in January while frontman Billie Joe Armstrong underwent treatment for substance abuse.  “I just want to thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown for the past few months," Armstrong posted on Instagram. "I’m getting better every day.  So now, without further ado, the show must go on.  We can’t wait to get on the road and live out loud!  Our passion has only grown stronger.”  North American dates begin in Rosemont, Illinois and wrap up in Los Angeles on April 18.  On May 24, Green Day is scheduled to perform the first of its 26 European shows in Milan, Italy.

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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.”