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McGraw Touts New Album as 'Best Ever'; Adele Still Tops Billboard Album Chart

Tim McGraw's "Emotional Traffic" CD

McGraw Touts New Album as 'Best Ever'

On January 24, Tim McGraw’s final album for Curb Records will be released. Tim calls Emotional Traffic his “best ever.” A 2011 post on his website said, “It’s an album full of music of which I am very proud. It’s extremely unfortunate that it wasn’t released earlier this year in conjunction with the Emotional Traffic tour, but all I want to do now is focus on the positive and look to the future.” A Nashville judge ruled against Curb’s lawsuit, which claimed Tim breached their recording agreement. Tim filed a counter-suit, charging Curb of holding “Emotional Traffic” hostage in an attempt to add more time to his contract with the label.

Etta James Dies

Etta James performs during the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Saturday, April 29, 2006.
Etta James performs during the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Saturday, April 29, 2006.

Blues legend Etta James died of leukemia on January 20. The 73-year-old singer also suffered from kidney disease and dementia. Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, she was discovered by musician, producer and bandleader Johnny Otis, who also died this week (January 17) at age 90. Etta James was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, whose many R&B hits included “The Wallflower,” “All I Could Do Was Cry” and her signature tune “At Last.” Last month, Etta’s personal physician announced that she was terminally ill. She would have celebrated her 74th birthday on January 25.

Adele Holds On to Top Billboard 200

McGraw Touts New Album as 'Best Ever'; Adele Still Tops Billboard Album Chart
McGraw Touts New Album as 'Best Ever'; Adele Still Tops Billboard Album Chart

This week, British pop star Adele hangs onto the Number One position on the Billboard 200 chart for the 16th week with 21. She now ties a record held since 1998 by the Titanic soundtrack. According to Billboard, 21 becomes only the 20th album in the 56-year history of the Billboard 200 to spend at least 16 weeks in the top spot.

Springsteen Working on New Album

Bruce Springsteen (file photo)
Bruce Springsteen (file photo)

More details are emerging about the upcoming Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band album. Titled Wrecking Ball, the set will be released on Columbia Records on March 6. The group will support the collection with U.S. and European tours. Manager Jon Landau released a statement that says, “Bruce has dug down as deep as he can to come up with this vision of modern life. The lyrics tell a story you can’t hear anywhere else, and the music is his most innovative of recent years. The writing is some of the best of his career and both veteran fans and those who are new to Bruce will find much to love on ‘Wrecking Ball.’”

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Exhibit to Feature Grateful Dead

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio plans to open a Grateful Dead exhibit on April 12. “Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip” will feature over 100 items, including five Jerry Garcia guitars and other instruments that belonged to the group’s members, original lyric sheets and artwork. The display is scheduled to run through December 31.

New CD Honors Amnesty International

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

On January 24, Fontana Distribution will release the four-CD set “Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.” Artists who donated songs to the 73-track collection include Adele, Maroon 5, Sting, Ziggy Marley, the Dave Matthews Band, Sugarland, Miley Cyrus, and many others. Seventy of the songs were recorded especially for the release. Producer Jeff Ayeroff said, “This album is a powerful fusion of the music community’s respect for Amnesty’s life-affirming work and for Bob Dylan’s enduring brilliance.” All of the artists, session musicians, arrangers, engineers, producers and recording studios worked pro-bono to support the human rights cause.

New Album Releases / January 24:

“100 Proof” by Kellie Pickler
“2012 Grammy Nominees” by various artists
“Believe” by Celtic Woman
“Human Again” by Ingrid Michaelson
“Bangarang” (EP) by Skrillex
“WOW Gospel 2012” by various artists
“NOW That’s What I Call Country Ballads” by various artists
“Soul 2” by Seal
“Comeblack” by The Scorpions
“Hard Knocks” by Joe Cocker
“Gaither Homecoming Celebration” by Bill & Gloria Gaither

Star Birthdays:

Singer Steve Perry celebrated his 63rd birthday on January 22. From 1978 to 1987, he performed with the rock band Journey. Three years before leaving the group, Perry recorded his first solo album, “Street Talk.” Its four chart hits included the Top 5 single “Oh Sherrie.” After a long break from the music business, he returned in 1994 with his second solo collection, “For the Love of Strange Medicine.” In 1996, the members of Journey reunited to record “Trial By Fire.” The album produced the Number One Adult Contemporary hit, “When You Love A Woman.” In 1998, Perry announced that he was again leaving Journey to pursue solo projects. He recorded two tracks for the soundtrack to the motion picture “Quest For Camelot.” Also in 1998, Columbia Records issued Perry’s anthology, “Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased.” In 2009, Sony Legacy released another greatest hits compilation, “The Very Best of Steve Perry.” In a 2010 interview with Classic Rock Presents AOR, Perry said he had written about 50 new songs. He added, “I can definitely smell a solo project on the horizon. I will be recording some music.”

Inductee Neil Diamond accepts his trophy at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony
Inductee Neil Diamond accepts his trophy at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony

On January 24, singer Neil Diamond will celebrate his 71st birthday. Neil began recording in 1961 and scored his first Top 10 single five years later with “Cherry, Cherry.” In 1980, Neil starred in and composed the music for the motion picture “The Jazz Singer.” In 1993, he paid tribute to legendary songwriter’s on the album, “Up On the Roof - Songs From the Brill Building.” In 1996, Neil recorded “Tennessee Moon,” his first full album of new songs in four years. It featured guest performances by violinist Mark O’Connor, late Country legends Chet Atkins and Waylon Jennings, and others. In 2003, Columbia Records released Diamond’s five-CD box set, “Stages: Performances 1970-2002.” 2005’s “12 Songs” became his first Top 10 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2007, it was re-released as a double CD with a second disc of unreleased demo recordings and alternate takes, and two bonus tracks. In 2009, Neil was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year in recognition of his “exceptional artistic achievements as well as his philanthropic work, which has included many generous charitable donations over the years.” Last year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was also the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor.

Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys

On January 25, singer and pianist Alicia Keys celebrates her 31st birthday. Born in New York, she began playing piano at age seven and wrote her first song at 14. That track, called “Butterflyz,” appeared on her 2001 debut album “Songs In A Minor.” The album brought her five Grammy Awards and sold more than six million copies in the U.S. Alicia was only 18 when she signed her first major label deal with Columbia Records. She left the label due to creative differences and Clive Davis signed her to Arista Records. Alicia was then signed to J Records, which Davis formed in 2000. In 2004, Alicia debuted at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart with “The Diary of Alicia Keys.” The album sold eight million copies worldwide. Her 2007 collection, “As I Am,” was produced the Number One hit “No One” and earned her two Grammy nominations. Also in 2007, she appeared in two motion pictures, “Smokin’ Aces” (with Ben Affleck) and “The Nanny Diaries” (with Scarlett Johansson). In 2008, Alicia starred in the film “The Secret Life of Bees.” Her 2009 duet with Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind,” spent five weeks at Number One. In 2010, Alicia released her latest album, “The Element of Freedom,” which became her first to top the U.K. Albums chart. Alicia married record producer Swizz Beatz in July 2010 and gave birth to their son Egypt in October. After J Records closed its doors in 2011, it was announced that her future albums will be released by RCA Records.

Eddie Van Halen
Eddie Van Halen

Guitarist Eddie Van Halen will turn 57 on January 26. In 1974, he formed the California-based rock band Van Halen. The group rose to stardom in the 1980s with such hits as “Why Can’t This Be Love,” “When It’s Love” and the Number One single “Jump.” Van Halen’s 1998 album, “Van Halen 3,” featured a new lead singer, former Extreme vocalist Gary Cherone. Cherone was released from the band in 2000. In 2001, Eddie was diagnosed with mouth cancer from which he has recovered. Singer Sammy Hagar reunited with Van Halen in 2004 to perform a U.S. concert tour. Eddie and his wife of 25 years, actress Valerie Bertinelli, divorced in 2007. The couple has one son, 20-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen, who replaced Michael Anthony as Van Halen’s bass guitarist. Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Hall of Fame in 2007. That same year, the band brought back David Lee Roth as its lead singer. Van Halen’s 2007-2008 reunion tour with Roth grossed 93-million-dollars, which set a record for the group. In June 2009, Eddie Van Halen married his publicist Janie Liszewski. Van Halen’s new album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” will be released on February 7. It marks their first album with David Lee Roth since 1984. The album’s first single, “Tattoo,” debuts on Billboard’s rock chart this week at Number 16. Van Halen will kick off a North American tour on February 18.

On January 27, Country singer Tracy Lawrence will celebrate his 44th birthday. In 1991, Tracy arrived in Nashville from his home state of Texas. Less than one year later, he was signed to Atlantic Records. The title track from his debut album, “Sticks and Stones,” went to Number One and was followed by several other chart hits. Tracy’s second album, “Alibis,” produced four chart-topping singles. In 1996, Atlantic Records issued Tracy’s first live set and the studio album, “Time Marches On.” In 2004, he was signed to DreamWorks Records, which released “Strong.” The album’s hits included “It’s All How You Look At It,” “Sawdust On Her Halo” and “Paint Me A Birmingham.” 2008’s “For the Love” was the first release on Tracy’s own label, Rocky Comfort Records. “For The Love’s” first hit was “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” A second version of that song, featuring Country stars Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney, became Tracy’s first Number One single in 10 years. In 2009, he released his first Christian music album, “The Rock.”

Pop singer Nick Carter turns 32 on January 28. Nick began acting in commercials when he was 10. Two years later, he landed a spot with the Backstreet Boys. The pop group’s first album was released in 1997. “Millennium” and “Black & Blue” followed in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Carter’s 2002 debut solo album, “Now Or Never,” included five songs that he co-wrote. The Backstreet Boys returned in 2005 with the album, “Never Gone.” Their 2007 collection, “Unbreakable,” produced only two minor hits, “Inconsolable” and “Helpless When She Smiles.” In 2010, the Backstreet Boys toured to support their latest album, “This Is Us.” The group performed shows last year throughout Latin America and Vietnam, and also co-headlined a North American tour with New Kids On The Block. Nick’s second solo album, “I’m Taking Off,” was released in 2011. The Backstreet Boys are currently working on a new album, which is due out later this year.

Singer and pianist Sarah McLachlan will celebrate her 44th birthday on January 28. Since arriving on the pop music scene in 1989, Sarah has sold more than 15 million albums in the United States. Her hits include “Angel,” “Adia,” “I Will Remember You,” and “Building A Mystery.” In 1997, she launched the first Lilith Fair festival tour, a successful showcase for female musicians. McLachlan was expected to record a new album in 2002, but those plans were delayed due to her mother’s death and the birth of Sarah’s first child. Her 2003 album, “Afterglow,” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. In 2006, she recorded the holiday CD, “Wintersong,” which sold more than two million copies worldwide and brought her Grammy and Juno Award nominations. Sarah gave birth to her second daughter in 2007. In 2010, she organized the first Lilith Fair Tour since 1999. Colbie Caillat, Sheryl Crow, The Courtyard Hounds, Miranda Lambert and Mary J. Blige were among the many artists who joined Sarah on the tour. In 2002, she created the Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach program for at-risk youths in Vancouver. It operated out of a church basement until last year, when she opened the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. Also in 2011, she released her latest album, “Laws of Illusion.”

Awards Presentations/Winners:

On January 24, actress Jennifer Lawrence and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak will announce nominations for the 84th Academy Awards. Nominees in 10 of the Academy’s 24 categories will be revealed during an early morning broadcast from the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The 2012 Oscars will be presented on February 26 in Los Angeles.

Look Who's Going On Tour!

Rock singer Emilie Autumn will begin a North American tour on January 25 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her “Fight Like A Girl” trek will stop in 27 cities through February 26. Dates in the United Kingdom and Europe are scheduled to take place in March and April.

Lady Antebellum's "Own The Night" CD
Lady Antebellum's "Own The Night" CD

On January 27, Lady Antebellum will kick off the first half of its “Own the Night 2012 World Tour” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Guests on the outing include Darius Rucker and husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square. Sixty-five North American concerts are scheduled through June 30. Lady A’s Charles Kelley said, “This is the tour we’ve always dreamed of putting together. We got to help design the stage and really collaborate on new production ideas. I can’t wait for the next nine months!”

Country star George Strait begins an 11-city U.S. tour on January 27 in Lafayette, Louisiana. Joining him on the tour is Martina McBride. George will be supporting his 39th studio album, “Here For A Good Time.” Martina’s latest collection, “Eleven,” features the hits “Teenage Daughters” and her current Top 10 ballad, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.” George said, “I love Martina. She’s been on our tours before and she’s great. I’m really looking forward to the tour. Martina will definitely make it a special night.”