Jay Z Becomes First Rapper Chosen for Songwriters Hall of Fame

Other inductees include Max Martin, Berry Gordy, Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Chicago.

The 2017 inductees of the Songwriters Hall of Fame were announced Wednesday morning, with hip-hop icon Jay Z and one-man hit factory Max Martin leading a class that also includes Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and three members of Chicago.

With his induction, Jay Z becomes the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall. His standout tracks include the Alicia Keys duet “Empire State of Mind,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and “03 Bonnie & Clyde” with Beyoncé, among many others.

The 21-time Grammy winner “was in a space where, even though he’s had more pop albums than anyone else, because he did it through rap,” it took longer for traditional voters to consider him, said Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, who announced the inductees on CBS This Morning. “It’s massive. He has changed the way that we listen to music. He’s changed the way that we have fun.”

Take Jay Z out of the mix and it’s still an impressive class this year: Martin holds the distinction of having written or co-written 22 No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, third only to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Over the years, Gordy contributed many songs for his legendary stable of Motown artists, including hit tracks for Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye. Babyface’s prolific career has yielded 16 No. 1s, including Madonna’s “Take a Bow” and Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road.” The team of Jam & Lewis have penned hits for Michael Jackson, Gwen Stefani, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, among others. Finally, the Chicago trio of Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera have a list of classic rock gems including “25 or 6 to 4,” “Saturday in the Park” and “If You Leave Me Now.”

“With our 2017 roster of inductees, the Songwriters Hall of Fame moves definitively into recognizing music creators of the 21st century while continuing to honor the greats of earlier decades. The combination of contemporary sounds and timeless hits of the past is certain to make for an unforgettable evening,” said Hall co-chairs Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff and President Linda Moran. “The songwriters we honor cross genre, regional and even national boundaries – R & B, Rap, Pop and Rock & Roll from both coasts, the American heartland and Sweden. We are thrilled to once more have the opportunity to preside over an event that recognizes the convergence of song craft and musical performance at the very highest level.”

Last year’s inductees included Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and Marvin Gaye.

The Hall’s 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner will take place June 5 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. Additional special award honorees will be announced soon.

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man Takes You Behind the Scenes of ‘Human,’ Admits Aretha Franklin Made Him Cry

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s career couldn’t have got away to a brighter start. 

The British soul man has the decade’s fastest-selling male solo debut in the U.K. with his album Human (Best Laid Plans/Columbia/Sony Music), and he’s guaranteed to come home with a prize from this Wednesday’s Brit Awards in London, where he’ll receive his Critics Choice honor. On the night he’ll join the likes of Adele, Florence + the Machine, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith as a recipient of the U.K. industry’s top up-and-comer trophy. He’s also up for best British breakthrough act and he’s set to perform the album’s title track.

The singer and songwriter (born Rory Graham) has been clocking up the airmiles in support of Human, with a transatlantic promo sprint which has included a performance last week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, an interview for Apple’s Beats 1 and a feature for the Beats by Dr. Dre Beat x Beat online series. Alongside his producer Two Inch Punch, Rag’n’Bone Man took the Beat x Beat cameras into the studio for an exclusive glimpse at the making of “Human,” which currently sits at No. 2 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. 

“The inspiration for ‘Human’ came from a conversation,” he explains in the Beat x Beat video. “We stumbled upon this question, sometimes you think a problem is a problem, when sometimes it isn’t. And it takes you to have a little step back and realize you might be a bit dramatic. Take a look around and see what’s going on in the world. Nine times out of 10 there’s somebody else with a much bigger problem.”

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And in a separate, confessional chat with Beats 1 host Julie Adenuga, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man admits to the last time he bawled (“I don’t feel less masculine for crying at Aretha Franklin“), the last famous person he saw (Ed Sheeran, who visited him in France), the last time he was drunk (he soothed the nerves with a few drinks while shooting a TV show with Denzel Washington and Whoopi Goldberg), recalled a phone call from Elton John (“he didn’t have to do that, it made my day”) and recounted the moment he met Courtney Cox (“I did that sort of ‘hello,’ the really English sort of Hugh Grant ‘hello.’)

Human bowed at No. 1 in the U.K. on debut last week after outselling the rest of the top ten combined. It’s currently sitting at No. 1 on the midweek chart, with double the sales of the next best title

Watch Emma Watson Sing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Opening Number ‘Belle’

Emma Watson is stepping to her own tune in “Belle,” the opening number from Beauty and the Beast.

Disney released a clip from the upcoming live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated film, which sees Watson singing while strolling through her little town, full of little people, waking up to say, “Bonjour.”

The clip shows that the dialogue of the ambitious opener — written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman — has been slightly tweaked, but still showcases Belle’s penchant for books.

The Bill Condon film also stars Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald and Stanley Tucci.

Beauty and the Beast hits theaters March 17.

Judge Orders Chris Brown to Stay Away From Ex Karrueche

A judge has ordered R&B singer Chris Brown to stay away from his ex-girlfriend after she accused him of physically abusing and threatening her.

The Grammy winner was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Karrueche Tran and not attempt to contact her after she wrote in court filings that Brown had repeatedly threatened her since December.

Tran also accused the singer of punching her in the stomach and pushing her down stairs a few years ago. Her filing does not offer any additional specifics or note if she reported the events to police. It states that no one was present at the time.

The order, which was issued Friday, also calls for Brown to surrender any firearms he has until a March 9 hearing on the restraining order.

An email message sent to Brown’s attorney Mark Geragos was not immediately returned.

Brown and Tran dated after the singer pleaded guilty to felony assault for an attack on Rihanna in 2009 just hours before the Grammy Awards.

A judge ended Brown’s probation in 2015, after several missteps that included punching a man outside a Washington hotel and stints in rehab.

The singer also underwent domestic violence and anger management counseling.

A facility that treated Brown wrote in a 2014 letter to the judge overseeing his probation in the Rihanna case that the singer was being treated for bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and past substance abuse.

Brown’s career faltered after the Rihanna attack and eventually rebounded and his album F.A.M.E won a Grammy Award in 2012.

David Bowie Fans Working to Crowd-Fund a U.K. Statue

David Bowie fans in London hope to honor the late star by building a three-story lightning-bolt statue, similar to the one featured on the late singer’s 1973 Aladdin Sane album cover.

Supporters hope to pay for the project by crowdfunding online and estimate the costs to be north of $1.23 million. So far, 165 people have raised more than $28,330 for the red-and-blue-sprayed stainless steel monument.

Organizers said they have consulted Bowie’s teams in New York and London in regards to planning the statue, which organizers plan to locate in Brixton, South London, where Bowie was born.

“Standing across the road from the equally famous Electric Avenue, the memorial will be a defining part of this most iconic neighbourhood,” reads the Crowdfunder page.

David Cassidy Says He’s Battling Dementia

Former Partridge Family star David Cassidy says he’s struggling with memory loss.

The 66-year-old actor-singer tells People magazine his family has a history of dementia and he had sensed “this was coming.” He says for now he wants to stay focused and “enjoy life.”

He told People, “I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how I’ve been without any distractions. I want to love. I want to enjoy life.”

Of his mother’s struggles, Cassidy recalled: “In the end, the only way I knew she recognized me is with one single tear that would drop from her eye every time I walked into the room. … I feared I would end up that way.”

Cassidy has had numerous personal problems in the decades following his initial success, ranging from substance abuse to bankruptcy. He’s the stepson of actress and fellow Partridge Family star Shirley Jones.

The interview was published just hours after alarming footage emerged of Cassidy slurring his speech and struggling to stay on his feet during a concert in California.  

Legendary Jazz Guitarist Larry Coryell, ‘Godfather of Fusion,’ Dies at 73

Legendary guitarist Larry Coryell died Sunday (Feb. 19) at the age of 73 in his New York City hotel room, according to a statement sent to Billboard from jazz publicist Jim Eigo.

Coryell, who passed away in his sleep from natural causes, had performed his last two shows this past weekend at the city’s Iridium Jazz Club.

Known as the “Godfather of Fusion,” Coryell was a pioneer of jazz-rock. He made his mark in the music world with his highly acclaimed solo work, releasing more than 60 solo albums in his lifetime. 

Coryell performed with mid-’70s powerhouse fusion band The Eleventh House and collaborated with jazz greats including Miles Davis, Gary Burton, Alphonse Mouzon, Ron Carter and Chet Baker.

Though his commercial fame didn’t match some of his ’60s-’70s guitar contemporaries, Coryell continued to tour the world and had planned an extensive 2017 summer tour with a reformed The Eleventh House.

Coryell was born April 2, 1943, in Galveston, Texas. He grew up near Seattle, where he began to play piano at the age of 4. In his teens, he picked up guitar, gravitating to rock music. Thinking he wasn’t good enough to pursue a music career, Coryell studied journalism at The University of Washington while taking private guitar lessons.

By 1965, he relocated to New York, where he studied classical guitar. He was influenced by Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry, jazzmen such as John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery, and the popular music of the day, including The Beatles, The Byrds and Bob Dylan.

His debut recording on drummer Chico Hamilton‘s album The Dealer displays Coryell’s melding of rock and jazz stylings.

In 1966, he formed the psychedelic band The Free Spirits, on which he composed, sang and played the sitar.

Three years later, he released two solo albums — Lady Coryell and Coryell — which mixed jazz, classical and rock ingredients.

His most notable album, Spaces, came in late 1969. The guitar blow-out, also featuring John McLaughlin, is considered the beginning of the 1970s’ fusion jazz movement.

Coryell’s most recent album, Barefoot Man: Sanpaku, was released Oct. 14. The Eleventh House’s new Seven Secrets LP is due to arrive June 2.

His final original works included operas based on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Coryell is survived by his wife, Tracey, four children and six grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for Friday (Feb. 24) at the SGI-USA Buddhist temple in New York.

Rhode Island Marks Anniversary of Station Nightclub Fire That Killed 100

Survivors of a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people, and relatives of those who died, are marking the 14th anniversary of the blaze.

Small gatherings were held Sunday afternoon and Monday morning (Feb. 20) at the site of the former Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island.

The site is being turned into a permanent memorial to those who died, as well as to rescuers and others who helped respond to the fire on Feb. 20, 2003.

A foundation set up to build the memorial park raised $2 million for the project.

The park is expected to open in the spring.

Pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White started the blaze, setting fire to flammable foam that lined the inside of the club. More than 200 people were injured.

Bono Meets Mike Pence, Thanks Him for Assisance on AIDS Relief

Mike Pence held an impromptu meeting with U2 front man Bono, who calls the U.S. vice president “the second busiest man on Earth.”

Pence met with the Irish rock star along the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on the weekend. 

Bono offered his appreciation to the vice president for meeting and noted that Pence had twice supported bills in Congress to provide AIDS medication to African nations.

Pence called it an “extraordinary historic accomplishment” and credited Bono with playing a “leading role.” Reporters were then ushered away.

Pence later tweeted, “Enjoyed chatting with Bono at Munich Security Conference. Discussed prior effort to twice pass Africa AIDS assistance & future security in developing nations.”

Watch a clip from their meeting below.

David Cassidy Slurs His Speech, Falls During Concert: Watch

Just days after announcing his retirement plans, David Cassidy appeared to be heavily intoxicated at a concert on the weekend where he slurred his words and struggled to stay on his feet. 

Footage captured by fans shows the former Partridge Family star rambling and toppling off the stage during his gig in southern California on Saturday night. TMZ shared the video, which was shot at The Canyon Club in Agoura and can be seen below. 

The former Celebrity Apprentice contestant, 66, has battled with alcoholism in recent years, leading to arrest for DUI on several occasions.

The veteran singer recently announced he is winding down his showbiz career. Cassidy has live dates booked in for March and June, according to his website, though TMZ claims he said on stage that Sunday night was his final concert due to health reasons.

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