News / Arts & Entertainment

Usher, Hudson to Appear in Whitney Houston Tribute; 'Babel' Makes Big Billboard Debut

Musician Whitney Houston arrives at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball benefiting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Beverly Hills, California  Oct. 28, 2006.
Musician Whitney Houston arrives at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball benefiting the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes in Beverly Hills, California Oct. 28, 2006.
Mary Morningstar
Usher, Hudson, Dion to Appear in Whitney Houston Tribute

On October 11, Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Celine Dion will appear at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles to tape a tribute to Whitney Houston.  “We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston” will air as a one-hour CBS television special on November 16.  According to the Recording Academy, the special will also feature some of Whitney’s most memorable performances and interviews with her peers.

'Babel' Makes Huge Billboard Debut

This week, Mumford & Sons scores the biggest album debut of 2012 with Babel.  According to Nielsen SoundScan, the set sold 600,000 copies its first week of release.  That almost doubles the former record held by Justin Bieber, whose Believe album sold 374,000 copies its first week.  Other Top 10 entries on this week’s Billboard 200 chart include Green Day’s Uno! (Number 2), No Doubt’s Push and Shove (Number 3), Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 by Lupe Fiasco (Number 5) and Album Title Goes Here by Deadmau5 (Number 6).

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Announces 2013 Nominees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced 15 artists that will be considered for induction in 2013.  They include The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Albert King, Kraftwerk, The Marvelettes, The Meters, Randy Newman, N.W.A., Procol Harum, Public Enemy, Rush and Donna Summer.  To be eligible for induction, artists must have released their debut album or single at least 25 years ago.  Some 500 musicians, music critics and industry professionals will vote the nominee list down to five inductees.  The 28th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions take place in Los Angeles on April 13, 2013.

No Doubt's 'Don't Speak' Among Billboard's Top Pop Songs

Billboard recently issued its “Top 100 Pop Songs 1992-2012” list.  Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 each have four songs in the Top 100.  The Top 10, in ascending order, are “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson, “Slide” by the Goo Goo Girls, “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down, “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden, “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas, “Hanging By A Moment” by Lifehouse, “Apologize” by Timbaland featuring One Republic, “Another Night” by Real McCoy and “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls.  The complete list is available at

Garth Brooks Ends Wynn Vegas Gig

Garth Brooks announced that he’ll end his three-year engagement at Wynn Las Vegas on November 17.   “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wynn.  Mr. Wynn told me that the Wynn audiences were some of the best in the world and he was right,”  the 50-year-old said. Next year, Garth plans to film his solo acoustic show for a future network special.  In other news, Garth will be in Nashville on October 21 for his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Carpenter, Arata, Williams Among Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony takes place on October 7 in Nashville.  This year’s honorees include Mary Chapin Carpenter (Songwriter/Artist category), Tony Arata and Kim Williams (Songwriter category) and Larry Henley (Veteran Songwriter category).  John Van Mol, chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation’s Board of Directors, said, “Among all the great songwriters who have put the music in Music City, only a select few are elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  We are delighted to accord this honor to Tony, Kim and Mary Chapin, and pleased as well to recognize Larry as the first inductee in the Veteran Songwriter category.”  During the induction ceremony, Donna Hilley will be posthumously honored with the 2012 Frances Williams Preston Mentor Award.  The 71-year-old music publishing executive died from an extended illness this past June.

New TV Show Centers on Nashville Singers

"Nashville" publicity photo"Nashville" publicity photo
"Nashville" publicity photo
"Nashville" publicity photo
ABC-TV will launch the drama series “Nashville” on October 10.  The show stars Connie Britton, who plays the role of a legendary Country singer struggling with her fading popularity, and Hayden Panettiere, whose character finds overnight success as a pop-Country crossover artist.  During the first season, Big Machine Records will release at least one song from each episode of “Nashville” on iTunes.

New Album Releases / October 9:

“Monster” by Kiss
“#3” by The Script
“Release Me” by Barbra Streisand
“Halcyon” by Ellie Goulding
“Glad All Over” by The Wallflowers
“Road To Forever” (first solo album in nearly 30 years) by former Eagles guitarist Don Felder
“Back 2 Cool” by Kenny Lattimore
“Close-Up 4: Songs of Family” by Suzanne Vega
“Long Wave” by Jeff Lynne
“Songs for the End of the World” by Rick Springfield
“Unfinished Business” by Wanda Jackson
“Amazing Grace” by Kenny Rogers
”My Christmas” by Katherine Jenkins
“Home For Christmas” by Celtic Woman

Musical Events/Festivals/Benefits:

The 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival takes place October 12-14 in Austin, Texas.  Headliners include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Jack White, Florence + The Machine, the Avett Brothers, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.  Last year, the festival drew 75,000 music fans each day.  Plans are already underway for next year.  Organizers say the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival will be held over two weekends.  

Star Birthdays

Singer Toni Braxton celebrated her 44th birthday on October 7.  In 1992, she became the first female artist signed to LaFace Records.  Her self-titled debut album for the label sold ten million copies worldwide and earned two Grammy Awards.  Hits from her first four albums included “Breathe Again,” “He Wasn’t Man Enough” and “Un-Break My Heart.”  In 1998, she made her Broadway debut, playing Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”  In 2003, Toni played the lead role in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Broadway production of “Aida.”  Braxton left Arista Records following the release of her 2002 album, “More Than A Woman.”  In 2006, Toni began an extended engagement at the Flamingo Showroom in Las Vegas.  The run was canceled in 2008 after Toni was hospitalized with chest pains.  She later revealed that she suffers from microvascular angina.  In late 2008, Toni was contestant on the ABC-TV dance competition, “Dancing with the Stars.”  That same year, she signed a recording deal with Atlantic Records.  Her first album for the label, “Pulse,” was released in 2010.   Its lead single, “Yesterday,” featuring Trey Songz, peaked at Number 12 on Billboard’s R&B chart.  Last year, Toni and her sisters launched their reality show, “Braxton Family Values,” on the WE channel.  The network added 25 new episodes, which ran through September 2012.  Earlier this year, Toni reached Number One on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Club Songs chart with “I Heart You,” the first single from her upcoming seventh album. 

On October 7, John Mellencamp turned 61.  The singer-songwriter earned national attention in 1982 with the release of “American Fool.”  The album produced the chart singles “Hand To Hold On To,” “Hurts So Good,” and the Number One hit “Jack & Diane.”  Mellencamp uses his celebrity status to raise awareness and financial aid for various causes.  His 1993 “Concerts for the Heartland” benefit raised more than $450-thousand for flood victims in the Midwest.  He also performs at the annual Farm Aid events, which he co-founded with Willie Nelson in 1985.  Mellencamp’s 1995 album, “Dance Naked,” produced the Number One adult contemporary single, “Wild Night.”  His 2007 album, “Freedom’s Road,” debuted at Number Five on the Billboard 200 to become his highest entry ever on that chart.  In 2008, Mellencamp released “Life, Death, Love and Freedom,” which he described as a collection of “modern electric folk songs.”  The album ranked at Number Five on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 50 Best Albums of 2008.  He says his latest album, “No Better Than This,” is “as American folk as I’ve ever been.”  Last year, Mellencamp divorced his wife of 18 years.  He’s now dating actress Meg Ryan. 

October 9 marks the birth date of the late John Lennon (b. 1940).  As a member of The Beatles, Lennon composed most of the group’s hits with Paul McCartney.  During his career, he also recorded several solo projects including “Walls and Bridges,” “Imagine,” and his final album, “Double Fantasy.”  In 1980, an obsessed fan fatally shot Lennon outside his New York City apartment.  To celebrate what would have been John Lennon’s 50th birthday in 1990, more than one thousand radio stations throughout the U.S. simultaneously played “Imagine.”  In 1998, Capitol Records issued a four-CD box set containing 100 of Lennon’s previously unreleased solo recordings.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio opened the exhibit “Lennon: His Life and Work” in 2000.  School report cards, original song lyrics, guitars, drawings, paintings and other personal memorabilia were on display through the end of 2002.  John’s widow, Yoko Ono, attended the 2011 BMI Awards in London.  She was there to receive the MillionAir Award for John’s single “Woman,” which has been played four million times on U.S. radio.  Four Beatles tunes were also honored.  “Let It Be” and “Michelle” have reached six million spins apiece, and “Eleanor Ribgy” and “We Can Work It Out” have each been played four million times. 

Country singer Tanya Tucker will celebrate her 54th birthday on October 10.  At age 13, she scored her first chart hit with “Delta Dawn.”  Since then, she has recorded dozens of Country hits, including “What’s Your Mama’s Name,” “Strong Enough To Bend,” “Two Sparrows And A Hurricane” and “Soon.”  In 1991, she was named the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year.  Her 1997 album, “Complicated,” was her final album for Capitol Records.  The following year, Tucker sued the label citing poor promotion of “Complicated.”  The CD sold only 147-thousand copies.  In 2002, Tanya released her 31st album, “Tanya,” on her own label, Tuckertime Records.  In 2007, she moved to Malibu, California.  Her latest album, “My Turn,” features covers of Country standards made famous by legendary male Country singers.  Undisclosed health concerns forced Tanya to cancel the final date of her 2012 concert tour.  According to reports, she won’t perform any shows for the next six months. 

On October 11, pop singer Daryl Hall will turn 63. Since 1972, he has performed with John Oates in the pop duo Hall & Oates.  Their many hits include “Maneater,” “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes” and “Rich Girl.”  In the late 1980s, Hall & Oates surpassed The Everly Brothers as the Number One charting duo of the rock era.  Hall has also recorded several solo albums.  His most recent solo collection, “Can’t Stop Dreaming,” was released in 1996.  In 1997, independent label Push Records issued “Marigold Sky,” Hall & Oates’ first album in seven years.  The duo’s next album, “Do It For Love,” came out in 2003.  One year later, Hall & Oates released “Our Kind of Soul,” a collection of 15 soul classics, plus three original tracks.  In 2005, Daryl Hall was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  After a four-month antibiotic treatment, he made a full recovery from the tick-borne illness.  Hall & Oates released the holiday album “Home For Christmas” in 2006.  A portion of proceeds from its sales went to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program, which delivers toys to underprivileged children during the holiday season.  In 2008, Daryl Hall and John Oates were named BMI Icons in recognition of their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.”  Following the 2011 release of Daryl’s album “Laughing Down Crying,” he told ABC News Radio that Hall & Oates were taking a break from recording as a duo, but would still perform concerts together.  Daryl hosts the free monthly webcast “Live From Daryl’s House,” which teams him with veteran artists and newcomers. 

Dixie Chicks member Martie Maguire will celebrate her 43rd birthday on October 12. The Dixie Chicks arrived on the Country music scene in 1998 with their debut album, “Wide Open Spaces.”  With sales exceeding 12 million copies in the U.S., the collection became the biggest-selling album by a Country duo or group.  The Dixie Chicks’ next CD, “Fly,” released in 1999, sold 10 million copies and produced eight chart hits.  In 2002, the Dixie Chicks released the album “Home” on their own Sony Records imprint, Open Wide Records.  In 2004, Martie gave birth to twin daughters Eva and Kathleen.  A third daughter, Harper Rosie, was born in July 2008.  The Dixie Chicks recorded “Taking the Long Way” in 2006.  The collection brought them five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Country Album of the Year.  Its hit single, “Not Ready To Make Nice,” won for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.  In 2010, Martie and her sister Emily recorded a new album as the Court Yard Hounds.

On October 13, rock singer and guitarist Sammy Hagar will turn 63.  From 1973 to 1975, Hagar performed as the lead singer in Montrose.  He later pursued a solo career that included such hits as “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy,” “I Can’t Drive 55” and “Give To Love.”  In 1985, Hagar replaced David Lee Roth as Van Halen’s lead vocalist.  With the band, he recorded the Top 5 singles “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “When It’s Love,” along with several Top 30 songs.  In 1996, he left Van Halen after learning that the group called back Roth to sing on two new songs that were included on its anthology collection, “Best Of Volume 1.”  Between 1997 and 2002, Hagar recorded four solo albums.  Van Halen brought him back to front the band for its 2004 tour, which marked the group’s first outing in eight years.  In 2006, Rhino Records released Hagar’s album, “Livin’ It Up!”  Also a successful businessman, he runs Cabo Wabo Enterprises, which includes two restaurant/nightclubs, a premium brand of tequila, an entertainment festival and a line of merchandise.  Hagar’s band Chickenfoot recorded its self-titled debut album in 2009.  Its second album, “Chickenfoot III,” was released last year.  The group also consists of Van Halen’s former bassist Michael Anthony, guitarist Joe Satriani and drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  Sammy’s annual Birthday Bash in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico will take place October 7, 9, 11 and 13. 

Look Who's Going On Tour!

Barbra Streisand's "Release Me" albumBarbra Streisand's "Release Me" album
Barbra Streisand's "Release Me" album
Barbra Streisand's "Release Me" album
On October 8, legendary singer Barbra Streisand will kick off a 10-city North American tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  On October 11 and 12, she’ll perform for the first time in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York.  Italian teen trio Il Volo will open the shows.  Also on October 8, Columbia Records will release Streisand’s new album, Release Me. The album features 11 previously unreleased songs that she recorded from 1963 to the present.

R. Kelly will kick off his “Single Ladies Tour” on October 13 in Columbia, South Carolina.  The R&B star is supporting his latest album Write Me Back.  This is R. Kelly’s first tour since undergoing throat surgery in 2011.  He’ll wrap up the outing on December 7 in Merrillville, Indiana.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category: Keiko Matsuii
|| 0:00:00
November 25, 2015 1:45 PM
Keiko Matsui’s music has been labeled many things – Jazz, Smooth Jazz, New Age, World Music. But whatever the label, the pianist-composer’s sound is always her own. Keiko Matsui takes the VOA Stage to perform some of her best-loved songs, and to talk with Beyond Category host Eric Felten about her life in music.

Keiko Matsui’s music has been labeled many things – Jazz, Smooth Jazz, New Age, World Music. But whatever the label, the pianist-composer’s sound is always her own. Keiko Matsui takes the VOA Stage to perform some of her best-loved songs, and to talk with Beyond Category host Eric Felten about her life in music.