Harry Connick, Jr. pays tribute to his hometown of New Orleans on two new albums, in stores January 30. "Oh, My Nola" includes the single "All These People," which was inspired by victims of Hurricane Katrina. "Chanson du Vieux Carre" is an instrumental album that he recorded three years ago. Connick wrote its title track and a second song, called "Ash Wednesday." He'll donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of both albums to the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village, which he formed with Branford Marsalis.
After 10 years apart, the members of the pop-rock group Crowded House are planning to release a new album and perform a world tour. Group member Neil Finn had been working on a solo album with Crowded House bassist Mark Seymour, and, according to Billboard.com, it "morphed into a Crowded House release." The group's drummer, Paul Hester, committed suicide in 2005. The remaining two members are auditioning drummers in Melbourne, Auckland and Los Angeles to take his place in the group.
The NFL Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Concert Series will take place February 1 and 2 in Miami. Scheduled to perform on the first night are Kanye West, Fergie and John Legend. The February 2 show will feature Don Omar, Ivy Queen and Aventura. Cable music channel VH-1 will air the February 1 performances on February 3. That same night, Telemundo will broadcast the February 2 concert. Super Bowl XLI will be played in Miami's Dolphin Stadium on February 4. Billy Joel will sing the National Anthem before the game and Prince will supply the halftime entertainment.
Paris Hilton has been sentenced to three years probation and also received a $495 fine for driving under the influence last September. The judge also ordered her to attend an alcohol education program.
It hasn't yet been determined if R&B singer Brandy will be charged for a December 30 accident in Los Angeles that left one woman dead. Brandy's car hit 38-year-old Awatef Aboudihaj's vehicle at a high rate of speed, which caused Aboudihaj to strike another vehicle. The victim's car then slid into a dividing wall before being hit again by an oncoming vehicle. Brandy was uninjured in the accident. Her publicist released a statement saying her client wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. She added, Brandy "wishes to publicly express her condolences to the family of the deceased."
On January 30, Art Garfunkel will release his new album, Some Enchanted Evening. The collection features show tunes from the 1920s to 1950s, including "If I Loved You," "Someone To Watch Over Me" and "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face." Garfunkel says, "I've been loving this stuff all my life."
Michael Jackson's spokeswoman Raymone Bain has confirmed that the self-proclaimed "King of Pop" is back in the United States. He has spent the past year-and-a-half living in Bahrain, France and Ireland. Jackson is working on a new album with will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. He's also scheduled to appear at a VIP party in Japan on March 8. Up to 300 guests, who paid $3300 each, will have dinner, get an autographed photograph of Michael and enjoy a 30 second to one minute "meet and greet" with Jackson.
NEW ALBUM RELEASES
New albums scheduled for release on January 30 include: "Not Too Late" by Norah Jones, (American Idol season 6 runner-up) Katherine McPhee's self-titled debut album, "Collaborations" (contains 14 previously-released duets) by Jill Scott, "Madonna: The Confessions Tour Live From London" by Madonna, "At the Movies" by Dave Koz, "Best of Stevie Nicks" by Stevie Nicks, "Alright, Still" by Lily Allen, "Turn Me Up" by Katrina Elam, "The Very Best of Travis Tritt" by Travis Tritt, "For The Love" by Tracy Lawrence" and "Best Love Songs" by Clint Black.
This year's Country Cruise Getaway will leave Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on January 28. Country superstar Tim McGraw will headline the cruise, which will also feature performances by Chris Cagle, Heartland, Jamie O'Neal and comedian Bill Engvall. In addition to their concerts, the artists will hold question-and-answer sessions with fans.
This week, Country singers Julie Roberts and Jace Everett will be promoting Country music overseas. On January 30, they'll present a "New From Nashville" showcase in Dublin. Similar concerts will also be held in London on February 1 and Glasgow on February 3.
Dreamgirls earned a leading eight nominations for the 79th annual Academy Awards, which will be presented on February 25 in Los Angeles. Surprisingly, the film was not nominated for best picture. A complete list of nominees can be found at www.oscar.com. Here are the nominees in the two music categories. Original Score - Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel, Thomas Newman for The Good German, Philip Glass for Notes on a Scandal, Javier Navarrete for Pan's Labyrinth and Alexandre Desplat for The Queen. Original Song - Melissa Etheridge for "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth, Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven for "Listen" from Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett for "Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls, Randy Newman for "Our Town" from Cars and Henry Krieger and Willie Reale for "Patience" from Dreamgirls.
TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION
Singer-songwriter John Mayer kicked off a brief U.S. tour on January 25 in Jacksonville, Florida. He's promoting his new album, Continuum. Dates are scheduled to wrap up on February 28 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Pop singer Jessica Simpson, who's dating Mayer, spent time with him in Florida as he prepared for the outing.