News / Arts & Entertainment

Spice Girls Take On Olympics; Troubled Travis Arrested

The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, August 12, 2012.
The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium, August 12, 2012.
Mary Morningstar
The closing ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London featured the Spice Girls, George Michael, the Pet Shop Boys and Queen’s Brian May.  Among other acts participating in the extravaganza -- Jessie J, Annie Lennox, The Who, Kate Bush, One Direction, Tinie Tempah and Paul McCartney. The show was widely praised by critics.

Troubled Travis Arrested

Country singer Randy Travis is in trouble with the law for the second time this year.  On August 7, he crashed his car in a construction zone near his hometown of Tioga, Texas.  A passerby found him lying naked in the middle of the road.  Travis was charged with driving while intoxicated and retaliation or obstruction for threatening to shoot and kill the police officers who responded.  Six months ago, Travis was charged with public intoxication after he was found sitting in his vehicle with a bottle of wine at a local church.

Amy Winehouse's Ex on Life Support
 
Blake Fielder-Civil, ex-husband of late British singer Amy Winehouse, is on life support in a London hospital.  “They said they put him in a coma to help him and due to infection," explained Sarah Aspin, Fielder-Civil’s girlfriend.  According to reports, Fielder-Civil arrived at the hospital after a drug and alcohol binge, which resulted in multiple organ failure.  On August 9, Winehouse’s father tweeted, “Terrible news about Blake this morning.  Remember Amy loved him.  Let’s pray for his recovery.”

Gospel Hall of Fame Honors Aretha

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)
On August 14, soul legend Aretha Franklin will be inducted into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Hall of Fame in Hendersonville, Tennessee.  This year’s other inductees include bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs, gospel family band The Hoppers, contemporary Christian singer Dallas Holm, Christian rock band Love Song and the late television evangelist Rex Humbard.

Olympics Boost Idol Phillips Sales

The debut single by 2012 American Idol winner Phillip Phillips has received a huge sales boost thanks to the Summer Olympics.  According the Nielsen SoundScan, “Home” was the Number One selling download with 288,000 copies purchased during the past week.  NBC used the song in pieces it produced on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.  “Home” has sold a total of 884,000 downloads since its release in late May.


98 Degrees Back Together

American boy band 98 Degrees has reunited to perform two concerts this week.  On August 17, original members Nick Lachey, his brother Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons will make their first television appearance in more than a decade with a performance on the NBC Today Show.  The following day, 98 Degrees will perform at the inaugural MixTape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Jepsen Tops Billboard Hot 100

Pop newcomer Carly Rae Jepsen remains at Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart again this week with “Call Me Maybe.”  The song has spent nine weeks in the top spot to become this year’s longest-running chart-topper on that list.  Digital sales of “Call Me Maybe” have reached more than five million downloads to date.

Ross Scores Billboard 200 Hit

Rapper Rick Ross scores his fourth Number One album on the Billboard 200 this week with “God Forgives, I Don’t.”  British singer Joss Stone has the only other new Top 10 entry with “The Soul Sessions: Volume 2.”  Re-entering the list at Number 5 is the Bee Gees’ 2004 compilation “Number Ones.”  The boost was due to Amazon’s 99 cent sale of the 20-song collection.


New Album Releases / August 14:

 “Based On a T.R.U. Story” by 2 Chainz
“Anastasis” by Dead Can Dance
“Story of Light” by Steve Vai
“Rock N Roll Revival” by Loverboy
“Mighty Death Pop” by Insane Clown Posse
“Just Tell Me What You Want - A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac” by various artists
“Songs of the Century - An All-Star Tribute to Supertramp” by various artists
“Whippoorwill” by Blackberry Smoke
“Live: Rock in Rio” by George Michael
“Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield” by Mike Oldfield

Musical Events/Festivals/Benefits:

 The “Teachers Rock” benefit concert takes place August 17 at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.  Performers include Fun, Josh Groban, Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks and Dierks Bentley.  Proceeds from the show honoring America’s educators will go to DonorsChoose.org, Feeding America and Teach for America.  “Teachers Rock” will be televised live on CBS.

The first MixTape Festival will take place August 17 and 18 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Artists appearing at the event include Kelly Clarkson, The Fray, NKOTBSB (New Kids On The Block and the Backstreet Boys), Carly Rae Jepsen and The Wanted, among others.

Star Birthdays

August 13 marks the birthdate of folk/rock singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg (born 1951).  The Illinois native began performing in local coffeehouses while studying art at the University of Illinois.  He left college after two years to pursue a career in music.  In 1971, he signed his first recording contract with Columbia Records.  Three years later, Fogelberg recorded his breakthrough album, “Souvenirs.”  His Top 10 singles include “Longer,” “Same Old Lang Syne,” “Hard To Say” and “Leader Of The Band.”  In 1997, Fogelberg celebrated his 25th anniversary in recording with the four-CD career retrospective, “Portrait: 1972-1997.”  The compilation contains many of his hits, several previously unreleased tracks and two new songs.  In 2000, he issued the live CD “Something Old New Borrowed and Some Blues” on his own Morning Sky record label.  He returned to the style of his 1970s and ‘80s recordings on his 2003 CD, “Full Circle.”  In 2004, Fogelberg was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.   He succumbed to the disease on December 16, 2007.

Singer David Crosby will turn 71 on August 14.  Crosby began his musical career in the early 1960s as a member of The Byrds.  In 1968, he left to form Crosby, Stills & Nash.  The following year, Neil Young joined the famous group, which later recorded the Top 20 hits “Woodstock,” “Teach Your Children” and “Ohio.”  In 1994, Crosby performed with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash at the Woodstock 25th anniversary concert.  In 1995, Atlantic Records released his live anthology album, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now...”  That same year, he underwent liver transplant surgery.  After making a full recovery, Crosby joined Stills and Nash on a 1996 U.S. concert tour.  In 1999, he reunited with Stills, Nash and Young to record “Looking Forward.”  The album marked their first new studio project in more than ten years.  In 2004, Crosby and Nash recorded their first album as a duo in nearly two decades.  Crosby, Stills & Nash were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.  The trio is currently performing a U.S. summer tour.

On August 15, Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers will celebrate his 23rd birthday.  They made their acting debut in the second season of the Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana.”  The Jonas Brothers’ debut album, “It’s About Time,” was released in late 2006.  Since then, the trio has released three more albums - a self-titled collection in 2007, 2008’s “A Little Bit Longer” and 2009’s “Lines, Vines and Trying Times.”  Joe’s debut solo album, “FastLife,” was released last year.  He collaborated with R&B star Chris Brown on its first single, “See No More.”  Joe supported “Fastlife” by opening shows on the European leg of Britney Spears’ “Femme Fatale” tour.  Earlier this year, the Jonas Brothers left Hollywood Records and bought back the rights to their master recordings.  Joe recently announced that the group is working on a new album, which might be out by the end of the year.

Pop star Madonna (file photo)Pop star Madonna (file photo)
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Pop star Madonna (file photo)
Pop star Madonna (file photo)
On August 16, Madonna will celebrate her 54th birthday.  After bursting onto the music scene in 1983, she dominated the pop charts with a string of Number One hits that included “Like A Virgin” “Vogue,” “This Used To Be My Playground” and “Take A Bow.”  Since 1992, Madonna has run a multi-media company under Time Warner, Inc.  In 1994, Madonna recorded the album “Bedtime Stories.”  That was followed by her first greatest hits collection, “Something To Remember” (1995), and the studio albums “Ray Of Light” (1998) and “Music” (2000).  In 2001, Maverick Records released her anthology, “GHV2 - Greatest Hits Volume 2.”  One year later, she recorded the theme song for the James Bond movie “Die Another Day.”  Her 2002 movie “Swept Away,” which was directed by her former husband Guy Ritchie, bombed at the box office.  Ticket sales reached only $600-thousand.  In 2006, Madonna announced plans to raise millions of dollars to fund programs to support orphans in Malawi.  Two years later, she adopted her son David from that country.  Madonna added her Malawian daughter Mercy to the family in 2009.  In 2008, Madonna was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  That same year, she fulfilled her obligations to Warner Brothers Records with the album “Hard Candy.”  Madonna signed a new recording and business deal with Live Nation.  Her 2008-2009 “Sticky and Sweet” tour earned $408-million to become the highest-grossing tour ever by a solo artist.  In 2010, Madonna and her teenage daughter Lourdes launched their Material Girl clothing line.  The junior designs are being sold exclusively at Macy’s stores throughout the U.S.  In May, Madonna kicked off a world tour in Tel Aviv to support her new album, “MDNA.”  This week, she has concerts scheduled in Finland, Norway and Switzerland.  The North American leg begins on August 28 in Philadelphia. 

Singer-pianist Vanessa Carlton will turn 32 on August 16.  The Pennsylvania native began playing the piano at age 2 and composed her first piano piece when she was only 8.  Six years later, she was accepted into New York’s School of American Ballet.  In 2002, Vanessa recorded her debut album “Be Not Nobody,” which included the smash hit “A Thousand Miles.”  Her second CD, “Harmonium,” was released in 2004.  In 2007, Vanessa recorded “Heroes and Thieves,” her first album for The Inc. Records.  Promotions for her latest album, “Rabbits on the Run,” included a stop at Voice of America last year to talk to “Border Crossings” host Larry London.

Pop singer Belinda Carlisle will celebrate her 54th birthday on August 17.  In the early 1980s, she began performing with the Go-Go’s.  The group disbanded in 1984, and two years later, Carlisle made her solo debut with the album “Belinda.”  The collection included the Top 5 single “Mad About You.”  In 1987, she scored her first solo Number One hit with “Heaven Is A Place On Earth.”  That song and 12 other tracks appear on Carlisle’s 1992 “Greatest Hits” collection.  The next year, she recorded the album “Real,” then took a four-year break before returning in 1997 with “A Woman & A Man.”  The Go-Go’s reunited to record the 2001 CD, “God Bless the Go-Go’s.”  It marked their first studio project in more than fifteen years.  Since 1993, Belinda has lived in France with her golfer husband Morgan Mason and their 17-year-old son James.  In 2007, Belinda released the album, “Voila,” a collection of French chansons and pop standards.  Her memoir, “Lips Unsealed,” was published in 2010.  Last year, the Go-Go’s received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Look Who's Going On Tour!

Lady Gaga arrives at the Sungshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan.Lady Gaga arrives at the Sungshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan.
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Lady Gaga arrives at the Sungshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan.
Lady Gaga arrives at the Sungshan airport in Taipei, Taiwan.
On August 14, Lady Gaga kicks off the European leg of her “Born This Way” tour in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Twenty-nine shows are on her itinerary through October 6.  Stops include Romania, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sween, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, France and Spain and Dublin, Ireland.  

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band will begin a 31-date North American tour on August 14 in Boston, Massachusetts.  They’ll perform twelve of the 31 shows in stadiums.  Springsteen is supporting his latest album “Wrecking Ball,” which debuted at Number One in 16 countries.

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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.”