News / Arts & Entertainment

Psy Scores 3 Billion YouTube Views; Thicke Dominates Billboard Hot 100

South Korean rapper PSY poses during a news conference for his concert
South Korean rapper PSY poses during a news conference for his concert "Happening" in Seoul, South Korea, April 13, 2013.
Mary Morningstar
South Korean pop star Psy has reached three billion views on his YouTube channel.  Rihanna and Justin Bieber are the only other artists to achieve that feat.  Psy’s 2012 debut single “Gangnam Style” has been viewed 1.7 billion times.  This year, he released his second international hit, “Gentleman.”



Thicke Dominates Billboard's Hot 100

Pop singer Robin Thicke's Pop singer Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams was a top seller on iTunes for the week ending June 17.
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Pop singer Robin Thicke's
Pop singer Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams was a top seller on iTunes for the week ending June 17.
Robin Thicke spends his fifth week at Number One on the Hot 100 chart with “Blurred Lines.”  To-date, the song has sold 2.4 million copies.  This week, “Blurred Lines” tops several other Billboard charts, including the Hot 100 Airplay, On-Demand Songs, Mainstream Top 40, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and R&B Songs lists.  The track is the lead single from Thicke’s upcoming sixth album, also titled Blurred Lines.

Randy Travis in Critical Condition

Randy Travis performs on day 2 of the 2013 CMA Music festival at the LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., June 7, 2013.Randy Travis performs on day 2 of the 2013 CMA Music festival at the LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., June 7, 2013.
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Randy Travis performs on day 2 of the 2013 CMA Music festival at the LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., June 7, 2013.
Randy Travis performs on day 2 of the 2013 CMA Music festival at the LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., June 7, 2013.
Country star Randy Travis is in critical condition at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Plano, Texas.  On July 7, Travis was admitted to Baylor Medical Center McKinney for treatment of a viral heart infection and congestive heart failure.  After a pump was implanted to assist blood flow, he was transferred to the facility in Plano.  On July 10, Travis suffered a stroke and underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.  Since 1985, Travis has topped the Country chart 16 times.  His biggest hits include “On The Other Hand,” “Diggin’ Up Bones,” “Three Wooden Crosses” and “Forever and Ever, Amen.”  Travis has won seven Grammy Awards, eight Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association and five Country Music Association Awards, among other industry honors.

J. Cole Tops Billboard 200 Chart

J. Cole performs onstage at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theater, June 30, 2013, in Los Angeles.J. Cole performs onstage at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theater, June 30, 2013, in Los Angeles.
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J. Cole performs onstage at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theater, June 30, 2013, in Los Angeles.
J. Cole performs onstage at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theater, June 30, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Rapper J. Cole climbs into the Number One position on this week’s Billboard 200 chart with his second studio album, Born Sinner. Billboard reports that for the first time in the history of the Billboard 200 chart, rap albums are placed in this week’s top three positions.  At Number 2 is Wale’s The Gifted and at Number 3 is Kanye West’s YeezusBillboard also notes that since 1991, when the magazine began ranking charts based on Nielsen SoundScan sales tracking, only 76 of the Billboard 200 chart’s 583 Number One albums have climbed into the top spot.  The remaining 507 have all debuted at Number One.


Wonder, Keys Among Headliners at Global Citizen Festival

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.
Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Mayer and Kings of Leon are set to headline the 2nd annual “Global Citizen Festival.”  The event, which is part of a campaign to end extreme poverty, will take place on September 28 in New York’s Central Park.  Organizer Hugh Evans, CEO of the non-profit Global Poverty Project, said in a press release that this year’s major themes are education, women’s equality, global health and global partnerships.


New Album Releases / July 16:

“X” by Chris Brown
“Amelita” by Court Yard Hounds
“The Big Dream” by David Lynch
“Close To The Floor” by Patrick Sweany
“Electric” by Pet Shop Boys
“My Name Is My Name” by Pusha T
“Lickety Split” by Robert Randolph and the Family Band
“The Blessed Unrest” by Sara Bareilles
“One” by Sarah Miles

Musical Events / Festivals / Benefits:

Country Thunder 2013 takes place July 18-22 in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  The event sold out six months ago.  This year’s lineup of Country stars includes Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Little Big Town, Jake Owen, and others.  For the first time, Country Thunder will feature The Roys’ Pickin Porch, a bluegrass tent showcasing traditional and contemporary bluegrass artists.  

Star Birthdays

From left, Apl.de.Ap, Fergie, Taboo, and will.i.am, of the band the Black Eyed Peas arrive at the iHeartRadio music festival, Sept. 23, 2011, in Las Vegas.From left, Apl.de.Ap, Fergie, Taboo, and will.i.am, of the band the Black Eyed Peas arrive at the iHeartRadio music festival, Sept. 23, 2011, in Las Vegas.
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From left, Apl.de.Ap, Fergie, Taboo, and will.i.am, of the band the Black Eyed Peas arrive at the iHeartRadio music festival, Sept. 23, 2011, in Las Vegas.
From left, Apl.de.Ap, Fergie, Taboo, and will.i.am, of the band the Black Eyed Peas arrive at the iHeartRadio music festival, Sept. 23, 2011, in Las Vegas.
Rapper Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas turned 37 on July 14.  Taboo joined the Black Eyed Peas in 1995.  The group, which also includes Fergie, will.i.am and apl.de.ap, earned international fame with its third album, “Elephunk.”  The Black Eyed Peas 2009 album, “The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies),” produced the Number One single “Boom Boom Pow,” which spent 12 weeks at the top of the Hot 100 chart.  Other hits from the album included “I Gotta Feeling,” “Meet Me Halfway,” “Imma Be” and “Rock That Body.”  In 2010, the Black Eyed Peas performed many of their hits at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremonies in South Africa.  The following year, the group performed a brief world tour to support their latest album, “The Beginning.” 

July 14 marked the birth date of the late folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie (b. 1912).  Among his famous compositions are “This Land Is Your Land,” “This Train Is Bound For Glory” and “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You.”  The influential performer died of Huntington’s Chorea in 1967 at age 55.  Guthrie’s life story was chronicled in an autobiography and movie, both titled “Bound For Glory.”

Musican Linda Ronstadt smiles during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., May 5, 2009.Musican Linda Ronstadt smiles during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., May 5, 2009.
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Musican Linda Ronstadt smiles during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., May 5, 2009.
Musican Linda Ronstadt smiles during a news conference in San Jose, Calif., May 5, 2009.
Singer Linda Ronstadt celebrates her 66th birthday on July 15.  In the early 1960s, she began performing with her folk rock band The Stone Poneys.  Ronstadt recorded her first solo album in 1968.  By the mid-1970s, she had established herself as one of music’s most popular female vocalists.  Her biggest hits include “You’re No Good,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “Blue Bayou.”  During the past few decades, Ronstadt has also recorded projects with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Country albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, a collection of mariachi songs, and several duets with pop vocalists.  In 1995, Ronstadt returned to the pop and Country sound of her early solo career for the album “Feels Like Home.”  Her 1996 release, “Dedicated To The One I Love,” featured pop and rock classics recorded as children’s lullabies.  In 1999, Asylum Records issued “Trio II,” the critically acclaimed follow-up to Ronstadt, Harris and Parton’s 1987 collaboration “Trio,” and “Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions,” a collection of adult rock duets with Emmylou Harris.  Next came Ronstadt’s 2004 collection of jazz standards, “Hummin’ to Myself.”  In 2006, Vanguard Records released “Adieu False Heart,” her Grammy-nominated album of duets with Ann Savoy.  Simon & Schuster will publish Ronstadt’s autobiography, “Simple Dreams,” on September 17. 

Singer Martha Reeves will turn 71 on July 18.  She was the leader of the popular 1960s vocal group, Martha & The Vandellas, which recorded such hits as “Heat Wave,” “Dancing In the Street” and “Jimmy Mack.”  The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.  Since the early 1970s, Reeves has also recorded several solo albums.  In 2004, she recorded “Home To You,” her first album since 1978.  Reeves served on Detroit, Michigan’s City Council from 2005 to 2009.  The following year, she lost re-election and returned to performing full time.  In September, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas will be inducted into Detroit’s brand new Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

Julianne Hough in a scene from Julianne Hough in a scene from "Footloose"
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Julianne Hough in a scene from
Julianne Hough in a scene from "Footloose"
Country singer, actress and professional dancer Julianne Hough will celebrate her 24th birthday on July 20.  Julianne is a two-time winner of the ABC television reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”  In 2007, she was signed to Mercury Nashville Records, which released her self-titled debut album the following year.  It entered the Country chart at Number One and produced the hits “That Song In My Head” and “My Hallelujah Song.”  Julianne appeared in the 2011 film remake of “Footloose” and 2012’s “Rock of Ages” with co-stars Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin.  This year, Julianne starred with Josh Duhamel in the romantic film “Safe Haven.” 

On July 20, singer Kim Carnes will celebrate her 67th birthday.  Carnes began performing in the late 1960s with The New Christy Minstrels.  She later launched a solo career, and, in the early 1980s, recorded two Top 5 singles - the Kenny Rogers duet “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” and “Bette Davis Eyes.”  The latter spent nine weeks at Number One.  After the release of her 1990 album, “Crazy In The Night,” Carnes left the music business to spend more time with her family.  She returned in 2004 with the independent album “Chasin’ Wild Trains.”

Musician Carlos Santana performs during his concert in Bangalore, India, Oct. 26, 2012.Musician Carlos Santana performs during his concert in Bangalore, India, Oct. 26, 2012.
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Musician Carlos Santana performs during his concert in Bangalore, India, Oct. 26, 2012.
Musician Carlos Santana performs during his concert in Bangalore, India, Oct. 26, 2012.
Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana turns 65 on July 20.  Born in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico, he formed Santana in 1966.  Among the group’s biggest hits were “Evil Ways” and “Black Magic Woman.”  In 1999, Santana made a huge comeback with “Supernatural,” an album that featured guest vocalists Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, and others.  The collection earned Santana eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.  Its hit single, “Smooth,” sung by Rob Thomas of matchbox 20, spent twelve weeks at Number One.  In 2003, Santana released “Shaman,” which included duets with Michelle Branch, Placido Domingo, Dido, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, Macy Gray, and others.  Santana performed a tour in support of the CD and donated proceeds from U.S. concerts to Artists for a New South Africa.  Funds were earmarked for grants and material aid to South African non-profit organizations working to combat HIV/AIDS.  Carlos was honored as the 2004 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.  The award recognized his professional, cultural and social accomplishments.  In 2009, Carlos was presented with a Billboard Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award.  Carlos divorced his wife, Deborah Santana in 2007 after 34 years of marriage.  In June 2010, he proposed onstage to his girlfriend and drummer, Cindy Blackman.  They married in December 2010.  Santana’s 2010 album, “Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time,” features vocal guests Rob Thomas, Scott Weiland, Chris Daughtry, Gavin Rossdale, Nas, Joe Cocker and Chris Cornell, among others.  Last year, Santana released the instrumental album “Shape Shifter,” which returned to band to its Latin rock roots.  Santana is currently performing a European concert tour.  In September, the group will begin a 16-date engagement at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Look Who's Going On Tour!

Recording artists Just Timberlake, left, and Jay-Z performing at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Feb. 10, 2013.Recording artists Just Timberlake, left, and Jay-Z performing at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Feb. 10, 2013.
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Recording artists Just Timberlake, left, and Jay-Z performing at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Feb. 10, 2013.
Recording artists Just Timberlake, left, and Jay-Z performing at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Feb. 10, 2013.
On July 16, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake will launch a 14-date co-headlining North American stadium tour.  The “Legends of Summer” tour begins in Toronto and wraps up in Miami Gardens, Florida on August 16.  Jay-Z’s brand new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, is expected to sell 475,000 to 500,000 copies when first week sales numbers are tallied.  Justin Timberlake’s new album, The 20/20 Experience, has sold more than two million copies since its release this past March.

Country star Keith Urban begins his 46-date “Light the Fuse” tour on July 18 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He’ll be supporting his upcoming album Fuse, which is due out on September 10.  The set’s lead single, “Little Bit of Everything,” climbs to Number 13 in its eighth week on the Country Airplay chart.  Urban is scheduled to wrap up the tour on December 8 in Louisville, Kentucky.

On July 19, Blake Shelton’s “Ten Times Crazier” tour gets underway in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Thirty shows are planned in the United States through October 5.  Easton Corbin and Jana Kramer will open the concerts.  Blake’s new album, Based On A True Story, was the top-selling Country album in the U.S. the first half of 2013.

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Border Crossings: Nnekai
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August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
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.