Beyonce Tops Billboard Album Chart

This week (week ending December 6), Beyonce debuts at Number One on the Billboard 200 with her new album, I Am?Sasha Fierce.  First-week U.S. sales surpassed 482,000 copies.  Its two singles, "Single Ladies (Put A Ring In It)" and "If I Were A Boy," hold the Number 2 and 3 positions, respectively, on this week's Hot 100 chart.  In other Beyonce news, her version of the pop standard "At Last" is the first single from the Cadillac Records soundtrack.  The album will be released on December 2, three days before the film opens in theaters nationwide.  Beyonce stars as Etta James in the movie, which tells the story of the rise of Chess Records and its roster of artists.  Cadillac Records also features Mos Def as Chuck Berry, Valence Thomas as James Cotton, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Columbus Short as Little Walter and Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf. 

Spears Sets Record Straight in New Documentary

On November 30, MTV aired the 90-minute Britney Spears documentary Britney: For the Record.  During the program, Britney talks about the recent troubles in her personal life and her comeback to the music scene.  In an interview with MTV News, she said, "So much has gone on over the last couple of years and there's a lot that people don't know about me that I want them to know.  I wanted to make this film because I started to feel like I wasn't being seen in the light that I wanted to be seen in.  This is an opportunity to set the record straight and talk about what I've been through and where I'm headed."  On December 2, Jive Records will release Britney's new album, Circus.  Spears has announced that she'll support her new album with a 2009 concert tour.  Also on December 2, the pop star will celebrate her 27th birthday. 

Minelli Returns to Broadway

Beginning December 3, Liza Minelli will star in her own Broadway musical extravaganza, "Liza at the Palace."  She'll sing many of her favorite songs and hits, and also perform a musical tribute to her godmother, Kay Thompson.  The show runs through December 28.

Rice Hosts Kennedy Center Honors Dinner

On December 6, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will host a dinner at the State Department for the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors.  This year's honorees include Barbra Streisand, the Who's Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, George Jones, actor Morgan Freeman and choreographer Twyla Tharp.  On December 7, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush will present them with their medals.  That evening, a tribute concert will take place at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  CBS-TV will broadcast the gala in late December.

New Album Releases December 2

"Freedom" -  Akon
"Emeritus" - Scarface
"X - 2008 Tour Edition" - Kylie Minogue
"Live In Chicago" - Panic At The Disco

Awards Nominees/Winners

For the first time, the annual Grammy Award nominations will be announced during a live primetime television special.  On December 3, CBS-TV will air "The Grammy Nominations Concert Live! - Countdown to Music's Biggest Night" from Los Angeles.  LL Cool J and teen Country star Taylor Swift will co-host the one-hour show.  Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, John Mayer, Taylor Swift, Christina Aguilera, the Foo Fighters and B.B. King are all scheduled to perform.  The 51st annual Grammy Awards will be presented on February 8, 2009.

Look Who's Going on Tour!

On December 4, Country star Vince Gill and his wife Amy Grant will begin a 15-date holiday tour in Manchester, New Hampshire.  Gill jokingly says, "The job of spreading Christmas cheer has simply gotten too big for Santa and Rudolph to do alone.  So Amy and I are pitching in.  Besides, these holiday tours have become our favorites."  A 12-piece band that includes a horn section and two background singers will accompany them.  One of the harmony singers is Jenny Gill, Vince's daughter with first wife Janis Gill.  The holiday tour wraps up with two shows at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on December 22 and 23.

Al Jarreau will begin his five-city "Holiday and Hits" tour on December 6.  He'll be supporting his first holiday album, Al Jarreau Christmas.  Dates begin in New Haven, Connecticut.  He'll also perform in Brunswick, New Jersey (December 7); Milwaukee, Wisconsin (December 11); Kansas City, Missouri (December 12); and Hammond, Indiana (December 13).