Members of Britney Spears' tour production team will visit China this month to talk to Chinese promoters about possible concerts there later this year. Britney is currently performing North American shows in support of her latest CD, In The Zone. The appearance has not yet been approved by China's Culture Ministry, which did allow Mariah Carey to perform in Shanghai in November 2003.
Michael Jackson was on Capitol Hill on March 31 to meet with Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and several African ambassadors. While in Washington, D.C., he received a humanitarian award for his work in fighting the spread of AIDS. The self-proclaimed "King of Pop" is said to be considering an African concert tour to raise money for AIDS treatment, prevention and education programs.
R&B star Usher debuts at Number One on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart the week ending April 10 after selling nearly 1.1 million copies of his new album Confessions. In February, singer Norah Jones topped the million mark with her second CD, Feels Like Home. That was the first time an artist sold a million copies of an album in its first week since 2001, when 'N Sync moved 1.9 million copies with Celebrity. Usher has held the Number One spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for the past seven weeks with Yeah!, the first single from Confessions.
On April 6, Koch Records will release the debut album by American Idol contestant William Hung. Although he wasn't chosen as a finalist, the engineering student at the University of California at Berkeley became an instant celebrity after performing Ricky Martin's She Bangs at his audition. Hung's first album, Inspiration, will include a DVD titled A Day in the Life of William Hung." It features footage from the recording studio and the 21-year-old's campus life. Inspiration includes his versions of the Ricky Martin hits She Bangs and Shake Your Bon Bon and Elton John's Rocket Man.
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The first of three concerts to benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund will take place on April 5 in Los Angeles. Shows are also scheduled for April 12 and April 19. Among the artists taking part in the L.A. concert series are Paula Cole, Michelle Shocked, American Music Club, members of Puddle of Mudd and singer-songwriter Glen Phillips. Sweet Relief was formed in 1994 by singer-songwriter Victoria Williams, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1993. The Fund provides musicians with financial assistance to meet their medical expenses and other needs.
Country star Tim McGraw and Billy Bob Thornton will headline the Gridiron Heroes Concert in Austin, Texas on April 10. The event will raise money for the Gridiron Heroes, an organization that assists high school football players with spinal cord injuries. McGraw's wife, singer Faith Hill, will make a special guest appearance at the show.
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April 10, singer-songwriter Freddy Fender will begin his 2004 concert tour in Austin, Texas. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2002 and a liver transplant early this year and now says he's eager to get back to performing. Freddy has enjoyed success in Country, rockabilly and Tex-Mex music during the past six decades.