Spector Found Guilty in Murder Case
Legendary producer Phil Spector was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson. The Superior Court judge ordered him to jail, where he'll remain until his sentencing on May 29. Defense lawyers argued that Clarkson committed suicide. One of the prosecutors' key witnesses was Spector's chauffeur, who claimed he heard a gunshot, then saw Spector with the gun as he said, "I think I killed somebody." Defense attorney Doron Weinberg said he will appeal the verdict.
Jackson Stops Auction
Michael Jackson's production company, MJJ Productions, has stopped Julien's Auction House from selling 2,000 items taken from his Neverland ranch. A joint statement from Jackson's spokesperson Tohme R. Tohme and the auction organizer Darren Julien says, "There was so much interest from so many of Jackson's fans that instead of putting the items in the hands of private collectors, Dr. Tohme and Julien's Auction House have made arrangements that will allow the collection to be shared with and enjoyed by Jackson's fans for many years to come."
Idol Judges Rescue Giraud
American Idol judges spared Matt Giraud from elimination on April 15. His rendition of Bryan Adam's "Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman" brought the 23-year-old Michigan native the lowest number of votes. This year, for the first time in American Idol history, judges were allowed to save one contestant from elimination. They used that opportunity to keep Giraud in the contest. Next week, the seven remaining singers will perform songs from the disco era.
Rascal Flatts 'Unstoppable' Tops Billboard Album Chart
Country trio Rascal Flatts sold 351,000 copies of its new CD Unstoppable its first week of release. The set entered the Billboard 200 and Country Albums charts at Number One. This marks the fourth consecutive time Rascal Flatts has debuted in the top spot on the Billboard 200. Two of the trio's previous albums sold more copies in their opening week. Rascal Flatts' 2006 release, "Me and My Gang," scanned 722,000 copies its first week and "Still Feels Good" moved 547,000 copies during its opening week in 2007. The first single from Unstoppable is "Here Comes Goodbye." This week, the track jumps five spaces to Number One on the Country Singles chart.
New Album Releases April 21
"Sounds Of The Universe" - Depeche Mode
"Yes" - the Pet Shop Boys
"The Long Fall Back To Earth" - Jars Of Clay
"Dependence" - Jamie Slocum
"Rising" - Great White
"Cabinet Of Curiosities" (box set) - Jane's Addiction
"How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway" - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
"Love Filling Station" - Jesse Winchester
"Let's Stay Here" - Oleta Adams
"Potato Hole" - Booker T. Jones
"17 Again" - original motion picture soundtrack
On April 22, the Nashville4Africa Concert will be held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Performers include Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride, Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Door and Ashley Cleveland, among others. The African Children's Choir will also sing. Big Kenny of Big & Rich will host the show with R&B newcomer Damien Horne. Money raised will go to charitable causes in Africa, specifically in Uganda and the Sudan.
MerleFest 2009 will take place April 23-26 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. This year's lineup includes Doc Watson, Linda Ronstadt, Beausoleil, Dailey & Vincent, The Grascals, and many others. The four-day event is held each year to honor the memory of legendary instrumentalist Merle Watson. The son of Doc Watson died in a farming accident in 1985 at age 36.
The 40th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will be held at the city's Fairgrounds Race Course April 24-26. A second weekend of shows will take place April 30-May 3. Hundreds of artists will appear at the event. Among them are Bon Jovi, the Dave Matthews Band, Bonnie Raitt, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Sugarland, the Neville Brothers, Etta James and Neil Young. (Go to www.NOJazzFEST.com for the full lineup and schedule.)
The 3rd annual Stagecoach Country Music Festival takes place April 25 and 26th in Indio, California. Appearing at the two-day event are Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Reba McEntire, Kid Rock, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert, Charlie Daniels Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and more. In addition to the many concerts, the festival will feature a barbecue cook-off with $40,000 in prizes.
The 2009 Billboard Latin Music Awards will take place in Miami, Florida on April 23. Panamanian singer Flex leads the contenders with 13 nominations, including Hot Latin Song of the Year for "Te Quiero" and Top Latin Album of the Year for his album of the same name. Other leading nominees include Enrique Iglesias with 10 mentions and Mana, Vicente Fernandez and Jenni Rivera with seven nods each. A complete list of nominees can be found at www.billboard.com.
The Gospel Music Association's 2009 Dove Awards will be presented on April 23 at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House. Christian singer-songwriter Chris Tomlin leads this year's list of nominees. His seven nods include Artist of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year for "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)." Natalie Grant, newcomer Francesca Battistelli, Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith and Mary Mary are among the other artists who received multiple nominations. This year, fan votes decide the Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year winners. Awards will be handed out in 43 categories.
Look Who's Going on Tour!
On April 23, teen Country star Taylor Swift will kick off her first headlining tour in Evansville, Indiana. Her "Fearless Tour 2009" will stop in 52 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition to performing her own tour, Taylor will open nine of Keith Urban's upcoming concerts.
Legendary singer-songwriter James Taylor will kick off a U.S. tour on April 23 in support of his Grammy-nominated album "Covers." Shows begin in Austin, Texas. Two days later, Taylor will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. After wrapping up U.S. concerts on June 24, he'll head to Europe to play concerts in the U.K., Ireland, Denmark and Germany. Also on his tour itinerary is an appearance at Portugal's "Cool Jazz Festival" on July 29.