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Music News: Usher Album Debuts at #1; Whitney Houston Postpones Start of Tour

R&B star Usher has the best-selling album this week. He debuts at Number One on the Billboard 200 with "Raymond v. Raymond," which sold 329,000 copies its first week of release. This marks Usher's third consecutive Number One debut. Two other albums enter the Billboard 200 in the Top 10. Alan Jackson's "Freight Train" debuts at Number 7 and Erykah Badu's "New Amerykah: Part Two: Return of the Ankh" lands on the list at Number 4.

On April 6, Whitney Houston was hospitalized for one night in Paris, France, causing her to postpone the start of a European tour. Concert organizers released a statement that said, "Whitney is suffering from an upper respiratory infection and after a consultation with her doctors has been advised to postpone her performance." Her shows in Manchester and Glasgow on April 8, 9 and 11 have also been postponed. Rumors began surfacing that Houston had a drug addiction relapse. She called the reports "ridiculous." Whitney told People magazine, "My health is terrific, but this is a time when I get a lot of allergies."

Country superstar Shania Twain has been given her own hour-long television series on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. A statement from OWN says, "The show will follow [Twain] as she begins her climb back to the top, a personal journey filled with risk, revelations and unexpected adventures." The 44-year-old singer's last album was 2002's "Up," which sold more than 11 million copies in the United States. Twain has been writing songs for her next album, but says its release is "nowhere in sight."

All nine "American Idol" finalists avoided being voted off the show on April 7. Although Michael Lynche received the lowest number of votes, the four judges used their one-time save to keep him on the show. In addition to Lynche, Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly were in the week's bottom three. Next week, last year's "American Idol" runner-up, Adam Lambert, will be the guest mentor. The week's theme hasn't yet been announced. Due to the judges save, two finalists will leave the competition on April 14.

On April 14, Country star Kenny Chesney will be in Knoxville, Tennessee to attend the premiere screening of his new concert film. "Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3-D" will be released nationwide on April 21 for a limited engagement run. The concert footage was shot during his 2009 "Sun City Carnival" tour. Kenny is one of the most popular touring acts in the U.S. Since 2002, he's sold more than one million tickets each year and filled many sports stadiums throughout the U.S. Kenny's taking 2010 off from touring, but will appear at several festivals and special events.


New albums scheduled for release on April 13 include: "Jason Castro" by Jason Castro, "Congratulations" by MGMT, "Emotion & Commotion" by Jeff Beck, "Leave Your Sleep" by Natalie Merchant, "Iron Man 2" by AC/DC, "With A Twist" by Straight No Chaser and "Achin & Shakin" by Laura Bell Bundy.


This week, Florence, Arizona will host one of two 2010 Country Thunder festivals. The event will take place April 14-17 and feature appearances by Gary Allan, Jo Dee Messina, Miranda Lambert, Kevin Costner & Modern West, Keith Urban, and many others. A second Country Thunder festival will be held in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin July 22-25.

The 11th annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival takes place April 16-18 in Indio, California. Jay-Z, Muse and Gorillaz will headline the festival. Other performers include Faith No More, David Guetta and MGMT. According to Billboard Boxscore, last year's Coachella was the top-grossing festival in the U.S. It drew 153,000 people and brought in more than $15 million.


Hall of Fame guitarist Jeff Beck will launch the U.S. leg of his world tour on April 16 in San Francisco. He's supporting his first album in seven years, "Emotion & Commotion," which will be out the week of April 13th. Beck wraps up shows with an appearance at the New Orleans Jazz Festival on May 1. After a one-month break, he'll begin the second U.S. leg on June 3 in Boston.

On April 17, former "American Idol" contestant Jason Castro will kick off his first U.S. headlining tour in Dallas, Texas. Jason's self-titled debut album will be released April 13. In a recent interview Jason said, "The album is a modern singer-songwriter type of record. It is acoustic-driven, with an organic sound [that comes from] recording real instruments. There were no [artificial-music] programs used, only real musicians [who have created] intimate sounds like those you heard in Hollywood [on 'American Idol']."