Ashanti to Face Off Against Keyshia Cole in Next Verzuz Battle

Ashanti is preparing for a big musical battle…

The 39-year-old part-Dominican American Grammy-winning singer and actress will face off against Keyshia Cole in the next Verzuz battle on December 12.

Ashanti

“Yeah, it’s official! The paperwork is IN,” the official Verzuz Instagram teased the “legendary Ladies Night,” with a split image of the singers’ faces.

The matchup is no surprise for fans, who’ve been buzzing about the potential pairing since May, when Cole commented under a side-by-side comparison of the duo’s hits. “My fans sent me this @timbaland @therealswizz @ashanti @verzuztv,” she wrote at the time. “is this accurate?”

The matchup marks the fourth female-charged battle, following Erykah Badu and Jill ScottMonica and Brandy, and Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.

Ashanti’s biggest hits include the chart-topping singles “Foolish” and “Always on Time,” with Ja Rule.

Don’t miss Cole and Ashanti’s Verzuz battle on Saturday, December 12 at 8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT on Verzuz’s Instagram page and on Apple Music.

Mendes to be Subject of Feature Documentary by John Scheinfeld

Sergio Mendes is ready to doc out…

The 76-year-old Brazilian Grammy-winning musician, will be the subject of a feature documentary to be released in 2018.

Sergio Mendes

John Scheinfeld, whose past work includes The U.S. vs. John Lennon and documentaries about Harry Nilsson and John Coltrane, is directing the film.

Meanwhile, Mendes is working on a companion album via the Concord label that will include new songs co-written with younger songwriters, and versions of the Brazilian maestro’s classics featuring intergenerational guests, with some tracks co-produced by will.i.am.

“I am attracted to stories of artists who go their own way,” Scheinfeld tells Billboard. “Who achieve success on their terms. Sergio has done that and more…For more than 50 years Sergio has been making inspired music that inspires people with its inherent joy, warmth and happiness.”

Mendes is renowned as the man who put go-go boots on Brazilian music and brought it to the world with his evergreen hit “Mas Que Nada.” With his band Brasil ’66, he recorded a string of soft samba and groovy bossa nova versions of English-language pop songs that made him a household name. Forty years later, Mendes brought “Mas Que Nada” (written and originally recorded by Jorge Ben Jor) to a new generation when he recorded it with The Black Eyed Peas for his will.i.am-produced album Timeless.

“Of course my personal musical journey is related to a very important period of Brazilian music,” Mendes said via an exuberant email from Brazil, where the film is in production.

Monday (April 3) he is rehearsing with musicians for one of the documentary’s performance sequences. “When I began my life as a musician, it was the early days of bossa nova, which was the sound that would seduce and enchant the world, making Brazilian music internationally known! And the beauty of it is that, as I work today with a young generation of brilliant musicians such as will.i.am, John Legend, India Arie, Jill Scott, Justin Timberlake, etc., they are still seduced by those beautiful melodies and rhythms, which remain as magical and relevant as ever!”

Mendes, a three-time Grammy winner, has recorded more than 35 albums. A longtime Los Angeles resident, he said that the film will reveal “hidden facets” of his life and career, taking him back to his hometown — Niterói — across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, allowing him to revisit his childhood and adolescence.

“I used to play soccer at the beach, swim in the ocean, play with marbles, etc.,” he recalls. “And later, when I grew up I would cross the bay to go to Rio by ferry to work with my first bands in the early ’60s…we will visit many places from my early years, which will bring some surprises for my newer (and even some of my older) fans.”

Like many current Mendes followers, Scheinfeld first moved to his music as a kid at home, listening to his mother’s Brasil ’66 records. He met the Brazilian legend after Concord Music Group’s Glen Barros and John Burk approached him about making the documentary, an idea prompted by the recent 50th anniversary of Brasil ’66.

“Personally, as he’s not the lead singer, nor the type of flamboyant front man we see in many a rock band, Sergio is something of a mystery,” says Scheinfeld, who reports that he and Mendes have become good friends. “Our film will dig deep to enable the audience to get to know him as a three-dimensional being. As the narrative unfolds, we will reveal that what makes him unique as a human being is what has shaped the art.”

The film will include archival footage and family photos, interviews with Mendes’ contemporaries and artists he influenced, and, of course, music from throughout his career.

“Professionally, his is a remarkable story of innovation, reinvention and impact,” Scheinfeld adds. “Not only did he create a fresh and unique sound, but he has continued to reinvent and re-imagine it from decade to decade and stayed relevant. Along the way, he has influenced subsequent generations of musicians, including some of today’s biggest stars.  Although it’s been 50 years, Sergio’s drive, curiosity and creativity has him still looking forward. How many artists can claim all this as part of their legacy?”

Angelique Kidjo to Perform Celia Cruz Tribute at the Hollywood Bowl

Prepare to be bowled over by Celia Cruz’s music…

Singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo is set to perform a special tribute to the late Cuban singer, who passed away in July 23 at the age of 77, at the Hollywood Bowl.

Celia Cruz

It’s all part of the 2017 Jazz at the Bowl summer series, kicking off July 19, featuring eight Wednesday evening concerts.

Cruz is hailed as the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century, earning 23 gold albums. She was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. She was renowned internationally as the “Queen of Salsa“, “La Guarachera de Cuba“, as well as The Queen of Latin Music.

Guided by Herbie Hancock, the L.A. Philharmonic’s creative chair for jazz, this year’s series features performances by a diverse lineup of established and emerging artists, including Kidjo’s Cruz tribute on August 9.

The lineup also includes performances by Jill Scott and the Robert Glasper Experiment, Andra Day, Leslie Odom Jr. and more in a salute to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, and Steve Winwood with Mavis Staples.

The complete 2017 Jazz at the Bowl schedule, as well as ticket information, is available at www.HollywoodBowl.com.

Miguel to Perform at “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America”

Miguel is ready to shine a light on race issues in America…

The 30-year-old part-Mexican American Grammy-winning singer-songwriter is set to perform at “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America.”

Miguel

The concert will be broadcast across more than 135 countries on Lifetime and A&E Network beginning November 21 and continuing through December 15.

A+E and IHeartRadio are partnering to bring together Miguel, the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Jamie Foxx, Rhiannon Giddens, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Pink, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Pharrell Williams for the concert sparked by tragic shootings in Charleston, Baltimore, Chicago and Ferguson.

Performances will include a once-in-a-lifetime series of duets, focused on reconciliation and positive change around the world.

Additional performers will be announced in coming weeks.

The concert will be recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 18th. The event will kick off A+E Networks’ worldwide campaign to confront issues of race, and to promote unity and progress on racial equity.

The concert and its ancillary programming will help raise money for the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by United Way Worldwide. The fund will provide grants to individuals and organizations as well as provide support to Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in South Carolina and the broader A.M.E. denomination. The fund will support efforts to address racism and bias through public policy change, individual innovation, and community mobilization.

In the U.S., the two-hour special event will air across A+E Networks’ brand portfolio, including A&E, History, Lifetime, H2, LMN and FYI, as well as on iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations and the iHeartRadio digital platform.

Immediately following the concert broadcast, A&E Network will air the one-hour special, Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America, (tentative title) featuring artists engaging a diverse group of residents in local communities at the center of the national conversation on racial inequality and violence.

Tickets for the November 18 concert are available through AEG Live at AXS.com and shrineauditorium.com.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by The United Way Worldwide.

Lovato Releasing “Made in the USA” as Her Next Single

Demi Lovato is officially Made in America

The 20-year-old part-Mexican singer/actress and The X Factor judge has officially set “Made In The USA” as the second single to her fourth studio album, Demi. It will follow “Heart Attack,” Lovato’s second Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (following 2011’s “Skyscraper” in 2011).

Demi Lovato

“Made In The USA” will hit Top 40 radio on June 27, on the same day that Lovato will appear and perform on Good Morning America as part of their Summer Concert series. One week later, the singer will play the annual Philly 4th of July Jam alongside John Mayer, the Roots, Jill Scott and more.

Although a date hasn’t been set for the release of the official “Made In The USA” music video, which Lovato co-directed, the clip apparently includes “some special surprise actors,” according to a press release.

“Made In The USA” is an uptempo, red-white-and-blue-tinged celebration of everlasting love.

Maxwell to Perform at This Year’s Essence Festival

Maxwell will be sharing his musical essence in New Orleans…

The 39-year-old half-Puerto Rican singer-songwriter is set to perform at the 2013 Essence Festival, which returns to New Orleans for four days this summer.

Maxwell II

The 19th annual celebration of black music and culture will be held July 4-7 at the Superdome and the nearby convention center, where speakers like Rev. Al Sharpton and Representative John Lewis, a congressman and civil rights leader, will give lectures, according to the New York Times.

Maxwell’s performance will come a year after the neo-soul singer had to cancel a comeback tour due to vocal hemorrhaging. He’s currently working on his fifth studio album, SUMMERS, which he hopes to release later this year.

Maxwell will join Beyonce, Brandy, Jill Scott, Keyshia Cole as entertainers set to take the stage. Other performers include New Edition and LL Cool J, while smaller stages will feature Bridget Kelly, Les Nubians, Mint Condition and the new jack swing stalwarts, Blackstreet.

The festival began as a one-time event celebrating the 25th anniversary of Essence magazine.

Last year’s event featured performances by Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and Mary J. Blige as well as D’Angelo and Melanie Fiona.

Vergara Dons Black Lingerie on the Set of “Fading Gigolo”

Sofia Vergara isn’t afraid to bust out on the set of her next project…

The 40-year-old Colombian actress has been caught in the act of wearing oh-so-revealing black lingerie on the set of her new film with Sharon Stone, Fading Gigolo.

Sofia Vergara in Fading Gigolo

Vergara, who recently stripped down for artist Domingo Zapata, demonstrates that her ample assets are certainly age-defying as she portrays a wealthy woman, bored in her marriage.

According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, she engages in a three-way relationship with Stone’s character, a dermatologist, and a male escort played by John Turturro. Playing cash-strapped bookstore owner-turned pimp to Turturro in the film is Woody Allen.

The comedy, which also stars Liev Schreiber, Vanessa Paradis and Jill Scott, is slated for release in 2013.

Miguel: This Year’s Best New Artist at the Soul Train Awards

Miguel only released his debut single, “All I Want Is You,” last November… But that’s all the time the critically acclaimed crooner has needed to take the music world by storm and start reaping the rewards.

During the 40th anniversary taping of the Soul Train Awards at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater this Thursday, the 25-year-old half-Mexican R&B singer/songwriter was named the 2011 Best New Artist. He beat out some of the industry’s biggest rising stars, including part-Latino doo wop singer Bruno Mars and soulstress Marsha Ambrosius, to take home the coveted award.

miguel

Miguel, who received three nominations for this year’s Soul Train Awards, lost the Best Male R&B/Soul Artist award to Cee Lo Green. But he’s still in the running for the Song of the Year award for his insta-classic “Sure Thing.” The song is facing off against Kelly Rowland & Lil’ Wayne’s “Motivation,” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Chris Brown’s  “She Ain’t You,” Kayne West’s “All of the Lights” and Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton’s “So In Love.”

Along with picking up the Best New Artist award, Miguel performed his latest single “Girls Like U.”

Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theatre, the show included special tribute performances to Gladys Knight, Earth, Wind & Fire and the late Heavy D.

Here’s a look at the only four awards (from 11 categories) that were doled out during taping:

Best New Artist
Miguel

Best Male R&B/Soul Artist
Cee Lo Green

Best Female R&B/Soul Artist
Jill Scott

Record of the Year (The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award)
“Far Away” – Marsha Ambrosius

The 2011 Soul Train Awards will be broadcast on BET and CENTRIC on Sunday, November 27 at 9:00 pm Eastern.