"Invincible," Michael Jackson's newest album, has topped the charts in countries around the world -- including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
In a statement, Sony Music Entertainment said the CD's chart debut "marks the reemergence of one of the most talented and influential artists in the history of Pop music and provides Michael Jackson fans around the world with a true cause for celebration."
ARTISTS AGAINST AIDS WORLDWIDE
Thirty-five pop stars are calling on President Bush and Congress to provide $1.2 billion in emergency funds to combat the global scourges of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
Bono, Destiny's Child, 'N Sync, Nelly Furtado, Christina Aguilera, Ja Rule, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Alicia Keyes, Wyclef Jean and Mary J Blige are among those who wrote to senators and representatives this week to urge them to sign the letters to the president. These artists, in partnership with Artists Against AIDS Worldwide (AAAW), have re-recorded several new mixes of Marvin Gaye's hit "What's Going On" in order to raise funds for AIDS programs in Africa as well as the September 11th Fund.
"'What's Going On' is a wake up call to President Bush and our Congress," said actress and singer Nona Gaye, the daughter of Marvin Gaye. "As a first step, we want $1.2 billion in emergency funds to stop AIDS in Africa this year."
SHORTLIST CONCERT AND AWARD CEREMONY
Sigur Ros, Nikka Costa, Talib Kweli, Bilal and the Dandy Warhols will perform at the first annual Shortlist Concert and Award Ceremony. The event will take place Nov. 19 at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles.
The five artists are among the 10 finalists for the Virgin Megastore Shortlist Prize for Artistic Achievement in Music, which carries a $10,000 cash prize. The other five finalists are Air, Jay Dee, PJ Harvey, Gorillaz, and Ryan Adams.
These ten artists were chosen by 15 "Listmakers" -- including Beck, Macy Gray, Trent Reznor, Aimee Mann, Mos Def, Dave Grohl, Lucinda Williams, and Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Roots. The winner will be announced following the concert.
(Web sites: knittingfactory.com, shortlistofmusic.com)
CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & BLACK?
Country's Clint Black will join Crosby, Stills & Nash on the debut of a new monthly series, "CMT Crossroads," Dec. 16 (at 9 p.m. ET). Stan Lynch, drummer for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, will host the show. The series will pair country artists with other genres to show the influence of country music. Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock are scheduled for a future episode.
NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME
During their long career the Everly Brothers have been given nearly every award that country and pop music has to offer -- including being inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and country's similar venue.
But, until this week, one accolade escaped the pair. Now Don and Phil have been honored for their country songwriting prowess by being officially brought into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Ironically, the two canceled much of their road tour this year. The Web site everly.net explains that touring was "no longer what the Everly Brothers wanted to do."
(Thanks to UPI Feature Reporter Dennis Daily)
The event is being held at the Tower Record store on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles (7-9 p.m. PST). It marks the release on the same day of "KISS: The Box Set," featuring 94 career-spanning tracks -- including 30 previously unreleased band and solo demos, outtakes and live recordings.
LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III
Loudon Wainwright III is known for his humorous songs -- his biggest hit was 1972's "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road" -- but earlier this year he prepared an album of songs dealing with the sense of pain and loss he felt after the death of his mother and the breakup of a longtime relationship.
The CD, "Last Man On Earth," was released Sept. 25.
"We made a conscious decision that we wanted to make a serious record," Wainwright told UPI. "Because I had a bunch of novelty songs, and usually I do them. I suppose you could say 'Last Man On Earth' was a novelty song. But we wanted to make a serious record."
Wainwright, 55, had a close relationship with his mother, so when she died in 1997 he was prepared for the worst, but for the better part of two years he thought he would never be able to write again.
"I knew that it was gonna be bad," he said. "I was kind of surprised that it was as bad as I thought it was. My father died 12 years ago and at the time it was kind of a liberating thing aside from the tragedy that he died. But when my mother died I just kind of shut down. I was just kind of incapacitated for several months. I knew it was gonna be bad but I wasn't sure how bad until it happened."
But Wainwright hasn't lost his sense of humor.
"I think the next record will be an all-comedy record, like an Alan Sherman record," he deadpanned. "Nothing but jokes. And then there's the archives, the material for the box set my 15,000 fans will buy. You have to put out the box before they put you in the box."
(Thanks to UPI's John Swenson in New York)
Legendary folksinger and environmentalist Pete Seeger will be in New York Thursday to help welcome the Earth Charter to the city.
The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society. It was written by a commission of international representatives.
The Charter is being brought to New York City in the Ark of Hope, a hand-crafted chest created for the Earth Charter. Sally Linder, an artist who helped create the Ark, began a 59-ay effort following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to carry the 200-pound chest from Burlington, Vt., to New York City.
The Ark of Hope will make the final leg of its journey from Garrison, N.Y., aboard the 106-foot wooden sailing sloop Clearwater.
After its arrival in New York City, the Ark of Hope will be housed at the Interfaith Center of New York before being exhibited at the United Nations.
(Web sites: earthcharter.org, ark-of-hope.org, clearwater.org, interfaithcenter.org)