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By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International   |   May 9, 2003 at 6:00 PM   |   Comments

SINGER DOBIE GRAY IN LIMELIGHT AGAIN

Dobie Gray, the singer who followed the advice of his 1973 hit "Drift Away," has drifted back again. The Nashville Tennessean reports Gray, now 62, says he was puzzled at first when modern-day act Uncle Kracker wanted to cover his mega-hit. What evolved was an interesting collaboration. The publication says the voice of the now-mature black soul singer and Kracker, the sidekick of Kid Rock, blended beautifully in a remake of the old ballad. The rise of the new recording -- at the No. 2 spot on one of the Billboard charts -- marks the first time Gray's name has been on a hot music list in more than 25 years. "Drift Away" was written for Gray by songwriter Mentor Williams. Since Gray rode it to the top it's been covered by a variety of groups, including Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, Roy Orbison, The Drifters, Ike & Tina Turner and Michael Bolton. Many fans were pleased to see Gray back on TV this week. He performed with Uncle Kracker on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Gray is a unique -- a "One Hit Wonder" who actually fought his way back to the top.


THOMAS CONDUCTS 'SMOOTH' AND 'CRUNCHY'

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas's efforts to get his San Francisco Symphony Orchestra to record "experimental" modern music have blossomed into a Web site. The popular "man with the baton" says Minnesota Public Radio is releasing a series of 13 shows that will feature never-before-broadcast recordings of music written by 20th century composers. It's all part of a series Thomas calls "American Mavericks." What makes the concept so interesting is the public radio series prepared by MPR has spawned a 24-7 streaming Web site where fans of the avant garde sound can go to get their "fix" of new classical music. There even are opportunities for would-be composers to make their own music and e-mail it to friends. Promoters of the Web site have come up with two channels of Thomas and the SSO, "smooth" and "crunchy." "Smooth" is lighter contemporary music. The "crunchy" is what many people call experimental music that might not be for traditionalists.


CHAYANNE TOPS BILLBOARD LATIN AWARDS

At the annual Billboard Latin Music Awards singer Chayanne took home three major Billboard Latin kudos. The magazine's annual celebration of Latin music also honored the rising young Mexican star Pilar Montenegro, who also copped three awards. Not only did the two walk away with coveted statuettes, they also performed. Others who performed during the awards show were A.B. Quintanilla and the Kumbia Kings, Alexandre Pires and Ricky Martin. The magazine's Web site says Chayanne, a long-standing draw in the world of Latin music, won Hot Latin Track of the Year with "Y Tu Te Vas." Chayanne describes the song as a "rock ballad." It was written by Franco de Vita. It also earned him an award for Latin Pop Airplay Track of the Year, Male. A CD highlighting the singer's long career, "Grandes Exitos," won Latin Greatest Hits Album of the Year honors. Others up for the award were Shakira, Vicente Fernandez and Selena. Telemundo taped the show and will broadcast it on Sunday.


JONG PUBLISHES 22ND BOOK

It all started 30 years ago when Erica Jong wrote "Fear of Flying" and now she's putting out tome No. 22. The pioneering book was considered one of the early primers of the so-called "sexual revolution." Gossip columnist Liz Smith writes Jong's latest effort is her eighth novel in the 22-book series. The new work is called "Sappho's Leap." It's a story about the famous poet of ancient Greece. Jong says although everyone has heard of Sappho, there are few "scraps of knowledge" out there to profile her life. Jong claims even though Sappho lived more than 2,600 years ago, she was one of the few women of her time who really understood what "passion" is. She quoted a little of the enigmatic Greek's words for Smith: "A fire runs over my flesh. I freeze. I burn. I am as green as grass. I have a daughter like a golden flower."


UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 585

Today's question is: "When was the last time someone in your family or close circle of friends suddenly arrived from out of town with no warning? Got any stories?" Put UPI-VISIT in the subject line and send to comments@upi.com via the Internet.


RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 580 (SHORT)

Last week we asked if you used any form of two-way radio. Here is what we found from our usual random dip into the e-mail in box: About 40 percent said they used some kind of equipment, several while on the job. Some mentioned the new small "family" radios sold at discount stores and places such as Radio Shack and noted they are great for big shopping malls and family trips. Ai9wAYNE is a ham operator from way back and even gives the test to others under government sanction. NEXT: What's on the menu? GBA

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