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Music News: Prince Releases New CD; Britney TV's Next Reality Star? - 2004-04-21

The 2004 VH1 Divas concert was held April 18 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year's lineup included Ashanti, Joss Stone, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Jessica Simpson, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie's Deborah Harry, Tom Jones and Usher. Proceeds from the 7th annual VH1 Divas show will go to the cable music channel's Save The Music Foundation, which works to increase awareness of music education.

April 20, Columbia Records released Prince's new CD, Musicology. The collection is his first on a major label since 1996. That year, he claimed himself a "slave" to Warner Brothers Records, and began releasing albums through his own online label, NPG Records. On March 29, Prince kicked off his first major tour in six years at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This week, his "Musicology Tour" stops in State College, Pennsylvania; Columbia, South Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour, starring pop singers Nick Lachey and his wife Jessica Simpson, drew 11.4 million viewers. Its rating success on April 11 has prompted ABC to offer the couple a Christmas special.

Britney Spears might be the next artist to star in a reality series. Her representatives are reportedly in talks with networks to broadcast six episodes of her life on tour. Tentatively titled "OnTourage," Britney would narrate the shows, set in Europe. The European leg of her "Onyx Hotel Tour" begins in London on April 27.

American Idol contestant William Hung sold more than 37,000 copies of his debut album Inspiration its first week in record stores. Koch Records released the collection on April 6. It includes the 21-year-old university student's versions of Elton John's Rocket Man and Ricky Martin's She Bangs, which he sang at his audition for American Idol. Koch Records executive Alan Grunblatt says, "He's taking [voice] lessons and I think a year from now he's going to be a really talented singer. I would sign 10 more people just like him." Inspiration debuted at Number 34 on the Billboard 200 chart.

April 22, Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd will welcome American troops home from Iraq with a concert at Fort Hood, Texas. Dubbed "Tribute To Heroes," the show will end a daylong event honoring the Army's 4th Infantry Division. The group's singer, Johnny Van Zant, said, "The members of the band and I feel it's an honor and a pleasure to be able to perform for such a prestigious group of individuals who played a key role in Saddam's capture."



April 21, Sting, Elton John and James Taylor headline the 13th annual Rainforest Foundation Benefit concert at New York's Carnegie Hall. Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, created the foundation in 1989.

The 2004 Country Thunder USA festival will take place April 22-25 in Florence, Arizona. The four-day event will feature performances by Reba McEntire, Travis Tritt, Montgomery Gentry, Sawyer Brown, and other top Country artists. In addition to more than 40 national and local music acts, the festival features craft vendors, camping and food booths. Over 150,000 people are expected to attend.

The 35th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will begin this week. The event will be held at New Orleans' Fair Ground Race Course April 23-25 and April 29-May 2. Among the hundreds of artists making appearances are Harry Connick, Jr., Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, local favorites the Neville Brothers, Smokey Robinson, Macy Gray, Dr. John and Robert Cray. In addition to concerts, the festival will feature craft fairs and booths serving traditional Louisiana cuisine.

April 24, the 5th annual "Country Music Marathon & ˝ Marathon" concert will take place at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center. Brad Paisley will headline the show to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Carolyn Dawn Johnson will open the concert, which wraps up the weekend's running event. More than 50 artists will perform at various points along the marathon route.


Country Music Television (CMT) presents its 2004 Flame Worthy Music Video Awards on April 21. The show is Country music's only fan-voted music video awards program. This year's leading contender is Toby Keith with four nominations. He shares two with Willie Nelson for their Number One duet, Beer For My Horses. Other multiple nominees include Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney and Rascal Flatts, who each earned three mentions. To be eligible, videos had to debut on cable music channel CMT between February 1, 2003 and February 14, 2004. During the show, Reba McEntire will receive the Johnny Cash Visionary Award in recognition of her "extraordinary musical vision, innovative and groundbreaking music videos and pioneering initiatives in entertainment." Dolly Parton will host the show, which airs live on CMT.


Three of the Grand Ole Opry's most popular members will headline the first "Grand Ole Opry American Road Show Tour," set to kick off on April 23 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Headlining the 11-city outing are Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and The Del McCoury Band. They'll be joined by newcomer Rebecca Lynn Howard. Steve Buchanan, senior vice president of Gaylord Entertainment Co., says, "We know that millions of music fans across the country hold the Grand Ole Opry in the highest regard, and that not everyone has had the opportunity to visit Nashville to see this remarkable icon. Our goal is to give fans across the country the chance to sample the best the Opry and Nashville have to offer, inspiring them to visit Music City to witness Country music at its finest." The tour's final date is October 16 in Phoenix, Arizona.