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Spike Lee Working on Jackson Documentary; Minaj Kicks Off Tour

Spike Lee at the premiere of the film ""Red Hook Summer" at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. (Jan 2012 file photo)
Spike Lee Working on Jackson Documentary

Film director Spike Lee is working on a Michael Jackson documentary to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the late pop icon’s Bad album. “We had complete access to the vaults of Michael Jackson," Lee told Billboard. "He wrote 60 demos for the Bad record. Only 11 made it. So we got to hear a lot of that stuff, too, so it was just a great experience.” Lee added that the documentary will include footage that Michael Jackson shot himself and other behind-the-scenes material that no one has ever seen. Lee promises that fans will see a more personal side of Jackson.

Minaj Begins N. American Tour

Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"
Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded"
Nicki Minaj kicked off the North American leg of her “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” tour on July 16 in Chicago, Illinois. Eighteen concerts are scheduled through August 12. On August 18, Minaj will begin European dates in Chelmsford, United Kingdom. Nicki’s “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” album has produced two big hits, the multi-million-selling “Starships” and her latest single, “Pound the Alarm.”

Shaggy Launches New Record Label

Jamaican artist Shaggy recently launched his own record label, Ranch Entertainment Inc. The company is based in Valley Stream, Long Island and Kingston, Jamaica. “I didn’t start the label for record sales but as a place where I can make music," Shagge explained at an event in New York where he made the announcement. Ranch Entertainment, like reggae, is more about live shows, touring and merchandising, areas where we can grow as an independent company.”

Usher's Stepson Critically Injured

On July 6, R&B star Usher's stepson, 11, was critically injured in a water sports accident on Atlanta, Georgia’s Lake Lanier. Kyle Glover, who is the biological son of Usher’s ex-wife Tamika Foster, was in an inner tube being pulled by a pontoon boat when he and a 15-year-old friend were hit by a jet ski. According to many reports, doctors have declared him brain dead, but no decision has been made to remove him from life support.

New 'Now That's What I Call Music' Album Hits Stores

EMI Music, Sony Music and Universal Music Group released the latest album in their Now That’s What I Call Music joint venture on July 17. Now That’s What I Call British features 18 chart hits by some of the biggest contemporary British music stars. They include Coldplay, the late Amy Winehouse, Natasha Bedingfield, Calvin Harris and Florence + The Machine, among others. Since the first Now album was released in 1998, the series has sold more than 200 million copies worldwide.

Chris Brown's New Album Debuts at No. 1

Chris Brown performs during the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 12, 2012. (AP Photo)
Chris Brown performs during the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 12, 2012. (AP Photo)
R&B singer Chris Brown scores a Number One debut on this week’s Billboard 200 with his new album Fortune. This is Brown’s second chart-topping entry on that list. He also debuted at Number One with his 2011 album F.A.M.E. Although there are no other Top 10 entries this week, three albums make double-digit jumps into the Top 10. The Black Keys’ “El Camino” rockets 45 positions to Number 10, Fun’s “Some Nights” advances 16 spaces to Number 7 and Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” vaults 25 positions to Number 6.

New Album Releases / July 17:

“Kidz Bop 22” by Kidz Bop Kids
“Spark Seeker” by Matisyahu
“One Lovely Day” by Citizen Cope
“Carry Me Back” by Old Crow Medicine Show
“Yellow & Green” by Baroness
“Bringing Down the Giant” by Saving Abel
“Band of Brothers” by Hellyeah
“Bromberg Plays Hendrix” by Brian Bromberg
“Beautiful Friction” by The Fixx
“Someday” by Susanna Hoffs

Musical Events/Festivals/Benefits:

Wisconsin’s 2012 “Country Thunder” festival takes place July 19-22 in Twin Lakes. This year’s lineup includes Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and many other Country stars. The four-day, sold out event marks the 20th anniversary of the “Country Thunder” festival.

Star Birthdays:

Singer Linda Ronstadt celebrated her 66th birthday on July 15. In the early 1960s, she began performing with her folk rock band The Stone Poneys. Ronstadt recorded her first solo album in 1968. By the mid-1970s, she had established herself as one of music’s most popular female vocalists. Her biggest hits include “You’re No Good,” “When Will I Be Loved” and “Blue Bayou.” During the past few decades, Ronstadt has also recorded projects with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Country albums with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, a collection of mariachi songs, and several duets with pop vocalists. In 1995, Ronstadt returned to the pop and Country sound of her early solo career for the album “Feels Like Home.” Her 1996 release, “Dedicated To The One I Love,” featured pop and rock classics recorded as children’s lullabies. In 1998, Elektra Records released her solo CD, “We Ran.” The following year, Asylum Records issued “Trio II,” the critically acclaimed follow-up to Ronstadt, Harris and Parton’s 1987 collaboration “Trio,” and “Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions,” a collection of adult rock duets with Emmylou Harris. Next came Ronstadt’s 2004 collection of jazz standards, “Hummin’ to Myself.” In 2006, Vanguard Records released “Adieu False Heart,” her Grammy-nominated album of duets with Ann Savoy. Simon & Schuster will publish Ronstadt’s autobiography, “Heart Like A Wheel,” in 2013.

Singer Martha Reeves will turn 71 on July 18. She was the leader of the popular 1960s vocal group, Martha & The Vandellas, which recorded such hits as “Heat Wave,” “Dancing In the Street” and “Jimmy Mack.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Since the early 1970s, Reeves has also recorded several solo albums. In 2004, she recorded “Home To You,” her first album since 1978. Reeves served on Detroit, Michigan’s City Council from 2005 to 2009. The following year, she lost re-election and returned to performing full time.

Country singer, actress and professional dancer Julianne Hough will celebrate her 24th birthday on July 20. Julianne is a two-time winner of the ABC television reality show “Dancing with the Stars.” In 2007, she was signed to Mercury Nashville Records, which released her self-titled debut album the following year. It entered the Country chart at Number One and produced the hits “That Song In My Head” and “My Hallelujah Song.” Julianne starred in the 2011 film remake of “Footloose.” She can currently be seen on the big screen in “Rock of Ages” with co-stars Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin. Julianne’s next film, “Safe Haven,” is scheduled to open in February 2013. She’s been dating “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest since 2010.

On July 20, singer Kim Carnes will celebrate her 67th birthday. Carnes began performing in the late 1960s with The New Christy Minstrels. She later launched a solo career, and, in the early 1980s, recorded two Top 5 singles - the Kenny Rogers duet “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” and “Bette Davis Eyes.” The latter spent nine weeks at Number One. After the release of her 1990 album, “Crazy In The Night,” Carnes left the music business to spend more time with her family. She returned in 2005 with the independent album, “Chasin’ Wild Trains.”

Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana turns 65 on July 20. Born in Autlan de Navarro, Mexico, he formed Santana in 1966. Among the group’s biggest hits were “Evil Ways” and “Black Magic Woman.” In 1999, Santana made a huge comeback with “Supernatural,” an album that featured guest vocalists Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, and others. The collection earned Santana eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Its hit single, “Smooth,” sung by Rob Thomas of matchbox 20, spent twelve weeks at Number One. In 2003, Santana released “Shaman,” which included duets with Michelle Branch, Placido Domingo, Dido, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, Macy Gray, and others. Santana performed a tour in support of the CD and donated proceeds from U.S. concerts to Artists for a New South Africa. Funds were earmarked for grants and material aid to South African non-profit organizations working to combat HIV/AIDS. Carlos was honored as the 2004 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year. The award recognized his professional, cultural and social accomplishments. In 2009, Carlos was presented with a Billboard Latin Music Lifetime Achievement Award. Carlos divorced his wife, Deborah Santana in 2007 after 34 years of marriage. In June 2010, he proposed onstage to his girlfriend and drummer, Cindy Blackman. They married in December 2010. Santana’s 2010 album, “Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time,” features vocal guests Rob Thomas, Scott Weiland, Chris Daughtry, Gavin Rossdale, Nas, Joe Cocker and Chris Cornell, among others. Earlier this year, Santana released the instrumental album, “Shape Shifter.” The group is currently performing a U.S. summer co-headlining tour with the Allman Brothers Band.

Look Who's Going on Tour!

On July 21, 1980s rocker Pat Benatar and her husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo, will begin a co-headlining tour with Journey. Also on the bill is Canadian classic rock band Loverboy. The 35-city outing begins in San Bernadino, California and wraps up in Moline, Illinois on November 13.

Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson will support her latest album, Stronger, on a co-headlining tour with The Fray. They’ll kick off the trek on July 21 in Ridgefield, Washington. The Fray is on the road to promote its new album, Scars & Stories. After the tour wraps up on September 15, Kelly will take 10 days off before heading overseas. Her itinerary includes 12 shows in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom through October 20.