Legendary record producer Sam Phillips, who founded Sun Records, died on July 30 at age 80. He formed the Sun Records label in 1952 and helped launch the career of Elvis Presley, who recorded his first songs at Sun Studios in 1954. Other artists on his label included Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison and Charlie Rich. By combining elements of rhythm and blues with Country, he created a style of music known as rockabilly. Phillips sold Sun Records in 1969. He later operated radio stations in Tennessee and Alabama. In 1986, Phillips was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

A release date has been set for Country legend June Carter Cash's final album, which she completed just prior to her death in May. Dualtone Records will issue Wildwood Flower on September 9. Eight of the 13 tracks on the album are new versions of standards by the Carter Family, including the group's theme song Keep On The Sunny Side. Several of June's family members make guest appearances. Johnny Cash sang with June on three tracks. June's son, John Carter Cash, who produced Wildwood Flower, says, "This record was very important to her. She had a great heritage that she wanted to carry on, and she wanted to make an artistic, historical and musical statement."

Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige will kick off the 2003 National Football League (NFL) season on September 4 with a free concert on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Following the performance, the Washington Redskins will meet the New York Jets at Washington's FedEx Field. Organizers of the concert say they hope to add more acts.

Earlier this year, Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys performed the role of Billy Flynn in the Broadway musical Chicago. This week, he'll reprise his role with the show's touring company. Dates are set for August 5-24 at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theater.

A Chicago judge has given R. Kelly permission to leave the state of Illinois to perform a brief concert tour with Ashanti. The singer is currently free on bond after being indicted on child pornography charges in June of 2002. R. Kelly's concert dates include August 9 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; August 15 in Oakland, California; August 16 in Inglewood, California; August 22 in Washington, D.C.; August 23 in New York City; and August 30 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kelly's next court date is scheduled for September 23.



August 8, Betty Wright and Grandmaster Flash will receive the Founder's Awards at the 2003 Billboard-AURN (American Urban Radio Networks) R&B/Hip Hop Awards. The honor is given in recognition of artist achievements and influence in the hip hop and rhythm and blues fields. The awards ceremony will close the 4th annual Billboard-AURN Conference in Miami, Florida.

Floetry leads the nominees for this year's Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. The U.K. duo received four nominations, including Best R&B/Soul Single for Say Yes, Best R&B/Soul Album for Floetic, Best R&B/Soul or Rap Song of the Year for the album's title track, and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist. Following closely behind are Erykah Badu, Heather Headley and Vivian with three nods each. The 2003 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards will be presented on August 23 in Pasadena, California.

Missy Elliott earned eight nominations for the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Justin Timberlake received seven mentions, including Video of the Year for his Cry Me A River clip. The video to Johnny Cash's new rendition of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt picked up six nominations. And, Jennifer Lopez, Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, White Stripes, Christina Aguilera and Beyonce received four nominations apiece. The awards show, set for August 28 at New York's Radio City Music Hall, will air live on MTV.


On August 9, the reunited Joe Jackson Band will begin a series of U.S. concerts in support of its new album, Volume 4. Shows begin in Hartford, Connecticut. Thirteen dates are scheduled through August 28. The Joe Jackson Band recently completed a European tour that included a stop at Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival.