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Patti LaBelle confronted by anti-fur protesters at book signing

Patti LaBelle's book signing Tuesday was crashed by anti-fur protesters, TMZ reports.LaBelle was signing copies of her "Desserts LaBelle" book at a Barnes & Noble when protesters posing as fans asked for a group photo. When LaBelle obliged, they pulled out signs and began chanting, "Patti LaBelle has blood on her hands."

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LaBelle is known for having an extensive fur collection.Store security removed the protesters. 

The Temptations bass player Kerry Turman dies after show

Kerry Turman, a longtime bassist for Motown group The Temptations, has died after a performance in Missouri. He was 59.

The coroner in Cape Girardeau County says Turman was found dead early Sunday at his hotel in Cape Girardeau, about 100 miles south of St. Louis.

Turman had performed with The Temptations since the 1980s. The band is currently touring with the Beach Boys and performed Saturday night in Cape Girardeau.

Coroner John Clifton says an initial autopsy indicates Turman died of natural causes. The full autopsy report won't be available for several weeks.

The group posted information about Turman's death on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, saying: "The Temptations lost a dear member of our family, as bass player Kerry Turman has passed away. ... Rest In Peace, much love, much respect."

Review: The Whistles and the Bells' 2nd album is a winner

This is the sound of freedom.

The Whistles and the Bells is Bryan Simpson, former mandolinist in the bluegrass band Cadillac Sky — a nice gig, but one with creative constraints.

"Modern Plagues" is Simpson's second solo album, and he's bursting with ideas beyond the confines of an acoustic combo. The elimination of genre limitations allows him to explore every color of the musical rainbow, with exhilarating results.

Simpson's enormous toolbox includes tuba and harp, big drums and a flute solo, hip-hop, klezmer, topical lyrics and wordless "la-la-la's." An EDM groove propels "Zombie Heartz," while a fat bass steers "Year of the Freak Out" toward classic R&B. A synthesizer echoes Simpson's vocal on "Good Drugs," and "Small Time Criminals" connects the French Quarter with Appalachia.

These aren't just random whistles and bells. Hooks abound, tying the cornucopia of noise together, and Simpson's social commentary provides further glue. "In Google we trust," he notes on "Zombie Heartz," adding: "We keep sawing off the limb we're sitting on."

Among those assisting are former Cadillac Sky bandmate Matt Menefee and the Raconteurs' Brendan Benson, who shares composing credit with Simpson on three of the 11 songs.

The whole thing runs a snappy 36 minutes. "You're not even listening," Simpson sings in the first verse, but that's doubtful. His la-la-la land makes for an album to turn up, not tune out.

Rock Hall induction ceremony returns to Cleveland next April

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says next year's induction ceremony is scheduled for April 14 at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland.

The Rock Hall is located in Cleveland, but the city hasn't hosted the induction ceremony since 2015. The event instead has been held in New York. The hall said last year that it would have the ceremony in Cleveland every two years starting in 2018.

The Rock Hall announced the date of that ceremony on Wednesday. It says a series of events leading up to the induction will include a community celebration with free admission to the facility.

This year's ceremony was held April 7 in Brooklyn. The inductees were Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes.

Ella Fitzgerald mural comes to singer's Virginia hometown

A Virginia town plans to unveil a mobile mural of its native daughter, singer Ella Fitzgerald.

News outlets report the 13-foot (3.96-meter)-tall, 12-foot (3.66-meter)-wide mural is scheduled to be installed Thursday in Newport News at Jefferson Brookville Apartments.

A small rendering of the mural was unveiled in a ceremony at city hall Tuesday. Officials say the mural is intended to travel to various outdoor and indoor locations every two to four weeks.

The mural is part of a city initiative to celebrate 100 years of the singer's life and educate people about her Newport News roots. Fitzgerald, who died in 1996 at the age of 79, would have celebrated her 100th birthday Tuesday.

Shelly Ezanno, superintendent of special events and promotions, says the Economic Development Authority provided about $15,000 to fund the project.

Madonna expresses her displeasure about planned biopic

Madonna isn't happy with a new biopic planned on her pre-fame life.

The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that Universal had acquired the rights to "Blond Ambition," a script about the singer. Brett Ratner is expected to produce the film, which centers on her struggles in New York while making her first album.

On Tuesday, Madonna expressed her displeasure via an Instagram post. She said that only she was qualified to tell her story and "anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool."

She likened it to "instant gratification" without doing the work and called it a disease of our society.

Mick Jagger avoids limelight as Charlie Watts wins award

It's not often Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger tries to avoid the spotlight and shift attention to drummer Charlie Watts.

But that happened Tuesday night at Jazz FM's gala in London when Watts received the Gold Award for a lifetime of blues, jazz and rock excellence.

The Stones also won two awards. But Jagger focused attention on the shy Watts, insisting he say a few words to acknowledge his special honor.

The beautifully dressed drummer managed a brief "thank you" to the crowd at Shoreditch Town Hall.

The event included a tribute to jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald on what would have been her 100th birthday.

It also featured the often reticent singer-songwriter Van Morrison in a supporting role giving a lifetime award to sometimes bandmate Georgie Fame.

Ella Fitzgerald's 100th birthday marked with Grammy exhibit

The Grammy Museum is putting rare Ella Fitzgerald memorabilia on display for what would have been the singing legend's 100th birthday.

The museum's "Ella at 100: Celebrating the Artistry of Ella Fitzgerald" exhibition includes the first Grammy Award that Fitzgerald won — the first awarded to an African-American woman — as well as some of her gowns, sheet music and personal telegrams.

Fitzgerald died in 1996 at 79 from complications with diabetes and left few possessions beyond personal notes, but the exhibit puts a focus on what made Fitzgerald a star — her voice.

Grammy Museum curator Nwaka Onwusa says she wants visitors to be captivated by her singing, so the exhibit includes video and audio of her early performances with jazz greats Count Basie or Duke Ellington.

The exhibit is one of several celebrations of Fitzgerald's birthday on Tuesday. New York City declared it Ella Fitzgerald Day and the Smithsonian has also opened a special exhibit, while Starbucks stores in the United States played her music.

"Ella Fitzgerald's is probably the single most important voice in American history," said recording artist Miles Mosley. "If you're going to start with any song before 1970, her version is the one you start from. That's the ground floor. That is the most representative version of what the composer themselves wished their songs would sound like."

Over the course of her career, she sang swing, bebop, pop, jazz. Among her best-known works are a 1938 novelty smash, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," which she co-wrote, and a series of eight album sets, each dedicated to an American songwriter or songwriting team. In addition to being best sellers, those albums helped establish the long-play record as a platform for deeper, more serious musical exploration.

Twenty-plus years after Fitzgerald's death, the rave reviews keep pouring in.

Celebration of Fitzgerald's 100th actually began March 31, as Dianne Reeves held a Fitzgerald tribute concert at the Library of Congress, which serves as home to Fitzgerald's personal library. A day later, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which has long hosted a Fitzgerald exhibit, opened a new display, "First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at 100," kicking off Jazz Appreciation Month.

Onwusa said Fitzgerald's exhibit was not an easy display to put together, noting that the relatively new Grammy Museum, which opened in 2008, could not compete with the long-established Smithsonian and Library of Congress, which have long been collecting Fitzgerald memorabilia.

But the Los Angeles-based Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation and Fitzgerald estate came through with enough items to make for an attraction, including gowns Fitzgerald wore in performance, rare photographs, sheet music, newspaper articles, concert programs. Securing performance footage proved more challenging, but was critical for Onwusa.

"When you come to Ella at 100, immediately we want visitors to be captivated by her voice," she explained. "That's what draws you to Ella."

To that end, there are viewing and listening stations, where exhibit visitors can watch and hear Fitzgerald performing in various points in her career. She was an active professional performer for some 65 years, going in semi-retirement in 1994, after having both of her legs amputated below the knee due to the effects of the diabetes.

For those just being introduced to Fitzgerald, Verve/UMe has just released a career-spanning primer, the four-CD set "100 Songs for a Centennial." For hardcore fans, there's the lavish six-album vinyl limited-edition "Ella Fitzgerald Sings The George and Ira Gershwin Song Books," which is newly packaged with lithographs, a book and a bonus track. Numerous other releases and events are planned throughout the year.

But once the celebration ends, it's fairly clear that the Fitzgerald legacy will continue.

Grammy Museum executive director Scott Goldman singled out a relative newcomer such as Andra Day as a perfect example. "(Here's) a young African-American artist who is blurring the lines between jazz and soul and R&B." he noted. "If you listen to Andra Day, you'll hear a little Ella Fitzgerald. And I think many artists carry that. I think that's what makes Ella Fitzgerald so special. She lives."

The exhibit runs through Sept. 10.

Aretha blasts Dionne Warwick but she declines to fire back

The Queen of Soul is coming out swinging against fellow legend Dionne Warwick, accusing her of making up a story that she was Whitney Houston's godmother, even though the alleged offense happened five years ago at Houston's funeral.

"She blatantly lied on me ... fully well knowing what she was doing," Aretha Franklin said in a phone interview.

Franklin called The Associated Press on Tuesday, after sending a lengthy fax the day before, to address what she claimed was a "libelous" statement against her made five years ago at Houston's funeral. At the time, Warwick told funeral-goers that Franklin was there and introduced her, but then realized she wasn't in attendance.

"'Ree's not here, but she is here," Warwick said, referring to Franklin by a nickname. "She loves Whitney as if she were born to her. She is her godmother."

At the time, Franklin said she was suffering from swollen feet and had to skip the funeral so she could perform later that night at Radio City Music Hall in New York, which she said she was contractually obligated to do.

Though Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston's mother, said in the days afterward that Franklin wasn't Houston's godmother (it was Darlene Love), Franklin felt the comment was damaging to her and planned to address it at a later date.

"There's been so much going on around her (Houston), around the service, around the drugs, around her and Bobby (Brown) supposed to be fighting, I didn't want to add anything to that and I didn't want to be a part of that," she said.

Five years later, Franklin feels that time is now.

While the story that Houston was Franklin's goddaughter has been part of her story for decades, Franklin said she first met Houston when Houston was a child — and she was far too busy to be anyone's godmother.

Franklin saw Warwick last week at the Tribeca Film Festival's premiere of mentor Clive Davis' documentary, "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives," and she also performed. Franklin said Warwick tried to talk to her backstage.

"She said, 'Give me a hug.' I said, 'Oh hell no. You couldn't be serious,'" Franklin said.

When asked if she wanted an apology from Warwick, she said: "I don't care about her apology, at this point it isn't about an apology, it's about libel."

She added: "We've never been friends and I don't think that Dionne has ever liked me."

Franklin once covered Warwick's hit "Walk on By," and, more famously, "I Say A Little Prayer."

When asked for comment, Warwick's representative Angelo Ellerbee said: "She will not dignify a response to the statement made by Aretha Franklin."

KIDZ BOP ready bigger tour with help from Live Nation

KIDZ BOP, the musical brand for children that's sold millions of CDs over the years, is launching its new tour in a big way with the help of juggernaut promoter Live Nation.

The Best Time Ever Tour, which kicks off Friday at the Legoland Florida Resort in Winter Haven, Florida, will visit over 50 U.S. cities with an updated set design, new choreography and a fresh batch of young performers.

"We're playing bigger venues, we've got bigger production, screens, graphics, lights; really upped our production value this year, so I think kids are going to have a better time," Victor Zaraya, president of KIDZ BOP, said in an interview.

The tour, designed for children ages 5 to 9, will also visit New Orleans, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Brooklyn, New York, and Nashville, Tennessee. Additional tour stops will be announced at a later date (the last announced date is Aug. 13 in Holmdel, New Jersey).

The six KIDZ BOP Kids are currently in rehearsals.

"They're going really good," 12-year-old Sierra of California said enthusiastically in an interview. "Our stage is really awesome. We're so excited to see it come to life."

The other performers are Californians Isaiah, 10, and Freddy, 13; Ahnya, 12, of Pennsylvania; Cooper, 13, of Kentucky; and Julianna, 11, of Texas.

"Performing in front of amazing kids is just so amazing because I love to make everyone dance and happy and smile," Isaiah said.

Both Isaiah and Sierra said they've been singing and dancing since they were 2. They both said Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" — which they'll cover during the tour — is their favorite song at the moment.

They also named singers like Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Stevie Wonder as big influences.

"To sing some of their songs is so amazing because I feel like I'm in their shoes," Isaiah said. "When I perform onstage I feel like I'm on their tour."

____

Online:

http://kidzbop.com

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