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Aretha Franklin Diagnosed With Cancer; Lady Gaga Named 'Billboard' Artist of the Year

Aretha Franklin (July 26, 2010 file photo)


The "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin has been diagnosed with cancer. Reports say she's battling pancreatic cancer, but a family member who confirmed the news to a Detroit television station didn't specify the type. The 68-year-old singer announced in November that doctors ordered her to take six months off from performing. She was recently hospitalized and underwent an undisclosed surgical procedure.

The first posthumous Michael Jackson album under a $250-million, seven-year deal between his estate and Sony Music will be released on December 14. The lead single from "Michael" is Jackson's duet with Akon, "Hold My Hand." Other collaborators on the 10-song collection include 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz. Sony Music predicts CD and digital sales will total 400,000 copies its first week of release.

The Recording Academy has added 30 new titles to the Grammy Hall of Fame. Inductees include the Beatles' "Penny Lane," the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There," Al Jolson's "My Mammy," the Marvelettes' "Hey Mr. Postman" and Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again." The Grammy Hall of Fame was created to honor recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance that are at least 25 years old. The list, which now totals 881 titles, is displayed at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The complete list of new inductees can be found at

The Jacksons are planning two Michael Jackson tribute concerts. According to Billboard, the late singer's brothers Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Jermaine Jackson will perform the shows in Tokyo October 14-15, 2011. Japanese R&B singer A.I. will host the concerts and also perform with The Jacksons. Their mother Katherine reportedly said, "Japan was one of Michael's favorite places in the world. …By means of having Michael's brothers headlining the Tokyo Tribute it would provide Michael Jackson's followers with a true and complete perspective of Michael's artistic career and life as a brother."

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga

Billboard has released its yearend charts and feature recaps, which are all available at Lady Gaga is the 2010 Artist of the Year, Ke$ha is the Number One Top New Act and Lady Antebellum is the year's Top Group. Bon Jovi had the highest-grossing concert tour of 2010. The group's 69 shows were all sell-outs, bringing in more than $146.5 million.


New albums scheduled for release on December 14 include: "Tha Carter IV" by Lil Wayne, "Basic Instinct" by Ciara, "Love Letter" by R. Kelly, "III/IV" by Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, "Farmer's Daughter" by Crystal Bowersox, "Kandi Koated" by Kandi, "Indestructible" by Elvis Crespo, "Waiting Outside The Lines" (EP) by Greyson Chance, and "The Labyrinth Tour" (CD/DVD set) by Leona Lewis.


On December 16, Garth Brooks will perform the first of nine Nashville concerts to benefit victims of the May floods in Middle Tennessee. He sold 140,000 tickets for the Bridgestone Arena shows, which are expected to raise $3.5 million for flood relief efforts.

Cable network TNT will air the 29th annual "Christmas in Washington" special on December 17. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will host the gala. Performers include Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Annie Lennox, Maxwell, Miranda Cosgrove and Matthew Morrison. President Obama and Mrs. Obama will attend the taping. Mrs. Obama chose Children's National Medical Center as the beneficiary of this year's "Christmas in Washington" event.


Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood was named the overall Artist of the Year at the inaugural American Country Awards. She won five other trophies, including Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for "Play On" and Female Single of the Year for "Cowboy Casanova." Other top winners included Lady Antebellum, who took home four awards and Easton Corbin, who received three. Three special honors were presented. The Greatest Hits Award went to Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts was given the Decade Award and Toby Keith was presented with the Video Visionary Award.


On December 14, Prince will begin his "Welcome 2 America" tour in East Rutherford, New Jersey. He'll play two more shows there on December 15 and 17. Also on his itinerary are concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden on December 18, December 29 and January 18. Joining Prince at each show are Mint Condition, Cassandra Wilson, Janelle Monae and Esperanza Spalding.

Country star Taylor Swift is quickly selling out shows for her 2011 tour. Two shows in Los Angeles sold out in two minutes and her June 25 concert at the 68,000-seat Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts sold out in five minutes. Taylor's "Speak Now" tour will include 90 shows in 19 countries. The trek begins on February 9 in Singapore.