December 7, the recipients of this year's Kennedy Center Honors will be saluted during an all-star show at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The 2003 honorees include soul artist James Brown, Country singer Loretta Lynn, classical violinist Itzhak Perlman, actress and comedian Carol Burnett, and theater and film director Mike Nichols. President and Mrs. Bush will attend the event, which will air on CBS-TV later this month.
December 9, J Records will release Ruben Studdard's debut album, Soulful. Studdard was the second season winner of the televised talent search program American Idol. The CD's first single, Flying Without Wings, entered Billboard's Hot 100 chart at Number 2 this past June. His new single is Sorry 2004. This year's first runner-up on American Idol, Clay Aiken, has sold more than two million copies of his first album, Measure Of A Man, which hit stores in October. December 20, 24-year-old Aiken will receive his diploma at the University of North Carolina's graduation ceremony in Charlotte. He earned a bachelor's degree in special education.
In other American Idol news, last year's first runner-up, Justin Guarini, has been dropped from RCA Records. His self-titled debut album sold only 134,000 copies in the United States.
A tribute concert to honor legendary Country duo The Louvin Brothers will take place on December 13 at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Among the performers scheduled to appear on the show are Ronnie Dunn, lead singer of Brooks & Dunn, Joe Nichols, Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Del McCoury, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Jon Randall. Charlie Louvin will attend the event. His brother Ira died in a car accident in 1965 at age 41. The Louvin Brothers were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
NEW ALBUM RELEASES/ DEC. 9:
December 11, Country star Tim McGraw will headline the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. Actor Michael Douglas and his actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones will host the event, which honors this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. Cable channel A&E will air the concert in the U.S. on December 21.
Beyonce, Jay-Z, Outkast and Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes each received six nominations for the 46th annual Grammy Awards, which will be presented on February 8 in Los Angeles. Following close behind are Justin Timberlake, Ricky Skaggs, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Eminem, Evanescence, 50 Cent, Chad Hugo of the Neptunes and the late Warren Zevon, with five mention apiece. Triple nominees include Erykah Badu, Willie Nelson and Jose Serebrier. A full list of this year's nominees is available at grammy.com. The ceremony will be televised live by CBS.
The 2003 Billboard Music Awards will be handed out on December 10 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Winners are determined by the performance of artists and songs on Billboard's weekly charts, which are based on sales and radio airplay. Rapper 50 Cent leads the contenders with six nominations, including Album of the Year and Artist of the Year for Get Rich or Die Tryin'. R. Kelly and Beyonce each earned five nods and the Dixie Chicks and newcomer Sean Paul received four. Performers on the show will include Clay Aiken, Pink, Beyonce, Shania Twain, Evanescence, No Doubt, Foo Fighters, R. Kelly and Sting, who will receive this year's Century Award, Billboard's highest honor for creative achievement. The ceremony will air live on FOX-TV.
LOOK WHO'S GOING ON TOUR!December 10, Bette Midler will kick off a U.S. concert tour in support of her new tribute album, Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook. The collection received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. The first leg of Midler's Kiss My Brass" tour is scheduled to wrap up in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 6, 2004.
Dave Matthews will begin a month-long outing on December 12 in University Park, Pennsylvania. He'll be promoting his solo debut album, Some Devil. Emmylou Harris and her band Spyboy will open shows for Matthews.