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Music News: Michael Jackson's Home Searched Following Arrest; George Michael Signs New Deal with Sony - 2003-11-26

Authorities in Santa Barbara, California searched the home of pop superstar Michael Jackson on November 19. Following the search, they issued a warrant for his arrest on charges that he allegedly molested a 12-year-old boy at his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County. The arrest warrant cited "lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14." The crime is punishable by three to eight years of prison. Jackson, who was in Las Vegas, shooting a video at the time of the raid, turned himself in to authorities the following day. After posting the $3 million bail, he was processed and released from custody. Jackson's attorney, Mark Geragos, told reporters, "He is greatly outraged by the bringing of these charges. He considers this to be a big lie." Jackson was ordered to appear in court on January 9 to face arraignment. In 1993, he was involved in a similar investigation, but was never charged because the child refused to testify. Jackson maintained his innocence in that case, but paid a multi-million-dollar settlement to the alleged victim.

In related news, CBS-TV has pulled a Michael Jackson's special from its schedule. The program was set to air on November 26. The network issued a statement that said, ""Given the gravity of the charges against Mr. Jackson, we believe it would be inappropriate at this time to broadcast an entertainment special."

Singer George Michael, formerly of the British pop group Wham, has signed another solo worldwide record deal with Sony. He attempted to end his first business relationship with Sony in 1992. After a long court battle, Michael left the label in 1995. He's currently working on a new album, his first since 1996's Older. Michael's next CD, Patience, will be released in early-2004.

November 25, Fox-TV will air the one-hour holiday special, American Idol: Christmas Songs. The show includes performances by first season winner Kelly Clarkson and this year's winner Ruben Studdard. Also featured in the special are runners-up Justin Guarini [and Clay Aiken, and other former contestants.

November 25, Lost Highway Records will release the Johnny Cash box set Unearthed. The five-CD collection includes 79 tracks the late singer made while signed to producer Rick Ruben's label "American Recordings." Sixty-four of the cuts have never been released.

The second album by 24-year-old Canadian singer Nelly Furtado will be released on November 25. Folklore follows Furtado's 2000 multi-million-selling debut album, Whoa Nelly, which included the Grammy-winning hit "I'm Like A Bird." Furtado says the album was inspired by the childhood vacations she spent in Portugal. She wrote and recorded most of the songs for Folklore while she was pregnant with her first child. Her daughter, named Nevis, was born this past September. The first single from Folklore is Powerless (Say What You Want).



November 25, hip-hop star Jay-Z will celebrate the release of his latest and final studio album with a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. The Black Album debuts at Number One on this week's Billboard 200 chart (week ending November 29), and marks Jay-Z's sixth chart-topping release. A portion of the proceeds from the New York concert will go to Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Jay-Z's Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund.

Paul McCartney, U2's Bono, Beyonce, Peter Gabriel, the Corrs, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) and Anastacia are among the performers taking part in the 46664 AIDS benefit concert in Cape Town, South Africa on November 29. 46664 was the number assigned to Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned on Robben Island in Cape Town. 40-thousand people are expected to attend the concert, which will air live on the SABC, South Africa's national broadcasting organization. MTV will broadcast the show worldwide on December 1 - World AIDS Day.


Rhythm-and-blues singer Luther Vandross and hip-hop newcomer 50 Cent each won two trophies at the 31st annual American Music Awards. Vandross' mother, Mary Vandross, accepted her son's awards, while he continues to recover from a life-threatening stroke he suffered in April. Luther won for Favorite Male Artist in the Rhythm & Blues/Hip-Hop category and his album, Dance With My Father, won for Favorite Soul/Rhythm & Blues Album. 50 Cent received the Favorite Male Rap Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album honors for Get Rich or Die Tryin'. Other winners included the late Aaliyah, named Favorite Female Rhythm & Blues Artist; Kid Rock, Favorite Male Pop/Rock Artist; Jennifer Lopez, Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist; Fleetwood Mac, Favorite Pop/Rock Group; Justin Timberlake, Favorite Pop/Rock Album for Justified; Alabama, Favorite Country Group; Tim McGraw, Favorite Male Country Artist; Faith Hill, Favorite Female Country Artist; Linkin Park, Favorite Alternative Group; Ricky Martin, Favorite Latin Music Artist; and Celine Dion, named Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist.


November 28, Country singer Martina McBride will begin her second annual Joy Of Christmas tour in Erie, Pennsylvania. Along with many special effects and lavish sets, the outing will feature 'story time' with children, which Martina says is the part of the show she enjoys the most. The tour is scheduled to end on December 22 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Kenny Rogers will kick off his annual holiday tour on November 28 in Fargo, North Dakota. This year marks Rogers' seventh "Christmas From The Heart featuring the Toy Shoppe" outing. More than one million people have seen the show since it debuted in 1997. This year's 22-city tour features life-size toys, elaborate sets, a full cast of children, and a local choir from each city. Dates will wrap up on December 20.