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Country Music Awards Rewrites History: Tracy Chapman's Classic 'Fast Car' Named Song of the Year

Tracy Chapman
Nashville's Bridgestone Arena set the stage for a historic win as Tracy Chapman's timeless hit "Fast Car" secured the Song of the Year award at the 57th annual Country Music Awards on Wednesday.

Despite Chapman's absence from the telecast, presenter Sarah Evans shared Chapman's gratitude in a heartfelt message, "I’m sorry I couldn’t join you all tonight. It’s truly an honor for my song to be newly recognized after 35 years of its debut. Wow. Thank you to the CMAs and a special thanks to Luke (Combs) and to all of the fans of ‘Fast Car.’"

This accolade is especially remarkable considering "Fast Car" made its debut 35 years ago and enjoyed a resurgence in July when Luke Combs, a prominent country star, released a cover that soared to No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart. In a historic moment, Chapman became the first Black woman to top the chart since its inception in 1990.

Chapman, the sole writer of "Fast Car," also claimed the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Country Songwriters chart, a testament to the enduring appeal of her masterpiece through Combs' rendition.

Reflecting on this unexpected journey to the country charts, Chapman shared, "I never expected to find myself on the country charts, but I’m honored to be there. I’m happy for Luke and his success and grateful that new fans have found and embraced ‘Fast Car.’”

Luke Combs, who also clinched a CMA Award for Single of the Year with "Fast Car," expressed his deep appreciation during his acceptance speech. "First and foremost, I want to thank Tracy Chapman for writing one of the best songs of all time," Combs remarked, highlighting the profound impact "Fast Car" has had on his life since childhood.

The historic win at the CMAs establishes Tracy Chapman as the first Black artist to secure Song of the Year. The Country Music Association not only honored "Fast Car" in this category but also recognized Combs, Chip Matthews, and Jonathan Singleton with Single of the Year.

C-Knight, Hip-Hop Pioneer and Dove Shack Co-Founder, Dies at 52

Photo Credit: Instagram
In a somber turn of events, Arnez Blount, best known by his stage name C-Knight, has tragically passed away at the age of 52 on Tuesday, succumbing to complications stemming from a severe stroke.

C-Knight, a prominent figure in the world of hip-hop and one of the founding members of the influential trio, The Dove Shack, had been in the hospital for several weeks. According to a report by TMZ, he was ultimately taken off life support.

The Long Beach rapper's recent hospitalization and untimely demise have cast a shadow over the music industry, leaving his fans and fellow artists in deep mourning. C-Knight's bandmate, Bo-Roc, who had previously reached out for prayers during C-Knight's hospitalization, took to social media to confirm the devastating news of his friend's passing.

Screengrab Instagram
Bo-Roc expressed his profound grief in a heartfelt message, saying, "This is like f—g nightmare I swear this s—t hurt different and I don’t want to talk about s—t to nobody so please just let me be and pray for us… On my soul I love you bro and I already don’t know what the f—k to do wit u being gone…"

C-Knight's health challenges began on October 18 when he was admitted to the hospital following a troubling blood sugar test result. His father, George Lee Washington Blount Jr., disclosed that C-Knight, who battled diabetes, underwent dialysis to address dangerously high blood sugar levels when he suffered a medical emergency, leading to cardiac arrest.

Despite the heroic efforts of responding medical professionals in resuscitating him, C-Knight's condition remained unresponsive after being placed on life support. Heartbreakingly, the rapper's family had to make the painful decision to discontinue life support after anxiously awaiting the results of an MRI scan assessing his brain activity.

While C-Knight and The Dove Shack may not have attained the same level of mainstream success as some of their 1990s counterparts, their impact on the hip-hop scene was undeniable. The group's debut album, "This Is The Shack," released in 1995, reached number 68 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and secured the 13th spot on the R&B chart.

C-Knight's legacy endures through his music, with one of The Dove Shack's standout hits, "Summertime in the LBC," leaving an enduring mark on the hip-hop scene. The song, featured in the 1995 hip-hop documentary "The Show," perfectly encapsulated the essence of Long Beach's summertime vibes.

Additionally, C-Knight explored his solo career with the release of "Knight Time" in 2001. In a 2020 interview with Canada's Outlaw Radio, he fondly recollected the creation of "Summertime in the LBC," stating, "We wrote that track in 15 minutes, man... it was like low effort. It's basically just us reflecting on our growing up in Long Beach... just that whole element of having summer barbecues and things like that, having fun."

Usher Names Himself Alongside Icons on 'R&B Mount Rushmore'

In an recent interview with E! News, Usher made a bold and definitive statement, placing himself among the pantheon of R&B greats on what he calls the "R&B Mount Rushmore." He didn't hesitate to share the names of those who, in his view, belong on this musical monument.

With a self-assured tone, Usher declared, "I get to put myself up there." He continued, "Marvin Gaye is going up there, Michael [Jackson] is going to be up there, Prince is going to be up there, and I'd put a few incredible female vocalists like Whitney Houston up there. It doesn't necessarily have to just be men."

This revelation from Usher coincides with his preparation for the Super Bowl Halftime Show, slated to take place at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in February 2024. The announcement of his Super Bowl performance has generated considerable excitement, with fans and fellow artists eagerly anticipating what he has in store. Usher revealed that he's drawing inspiration from iconic acts like Michael Jackson, Prince, and Maroon 5, making his upcoming performance a hot topic in the music world.

Behind the Scenes: Usher's Super Bowl Journey

Usher's dedication to delivering an unforgettable Super Bowl performance is palpable. Juggling the responsibilities of his "My Way" residency in Las Vegas, he's fully committed to the extensive preparations for the 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

In a candid interview with CNN, Usher shared his thoughts on returning to the live stage after the challenges posed by the pandemic. For Usher, the stage represents his comfort zone, a place where he can seamlessly connect with his audience and let his creative energy flow.

"It's all about having everyone together in one room, celebrating this music, and returning to a sense of normalcy," Usher explained. He underscored the profound significance of the live experience, emphasizing that it's his driving force and a source of deep passion.

While physical fitness is vital for maintaining the rigorous demands of his residency, Usher shared that his Super Bowl preparation is primarily a mental exercise. He's carefully crafting a message of unity and celebration for the performance.

"My performance will be a celebration of various aspects. I'll celebrate the places I've been, the inspirations that have guided me, the music that has touched souls, the dance that has brought joy, and the legacy of all the entertainers who have played their part in uniting the world," Usher revealed.

A Unique Tradition: Usher's Decision to Perform for Free

In an industry where artists often perform for exposure rather than payment during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, Usher has chosen to follow this unique tradition. The NFL, notorious for not compensating its halftime show performers, continues this practice, providing artists with an unparalleled platform to reach millions of viewers.

Usher, having been named the 2024 halftime show performer, revealed that he wasn't the NFL's first choice, with stars like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Lizzo reportedly turning down the opportunity. While he won't receive a performance fee, Usher recognizes the potential for vast exposure and the chance to connect with his dedicated fan base, making this a strategic move in his thriving career.

Iconic R&B Sextet New Edition Announces Six-Show Residency at Wynn Las Vegas

New Edition, the iconic R&B sextet, is set to embark on a long-awaited residency in Las Vegas in early 2024. From February 28 through March 9, the group will grace the stage at Wynn Las Vegas' The Encore for six intimate performances.

The news, initially teased by the group during its recent tour, was confirmed on Monday. In a joint statement, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Michael Bivins and Ricky Bell expressed their enthusiasm for this career-defining moment. They stated, "Fulfilling a career-long dream to solidify ourselves with a residency performance in the entertainment capital of the world, we are beyond excited to embark on this fantastical journey at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas."

The group is committed to providing a unique experience for their fans. As Johnny Gill added, the residency will feature classic hits like "Candy Girl," "Can You Stand The Rain" and "If It Isn't Love." He teased, "It'll be the best show on Earth."

Bobby Reynolds, Senior VP of AEG Presents Las Vegas, noted the significance of New Edition's upcoming residency. "We are honored to have Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas serve as the home to New Edition's first-ever Las Vegas residency," he said. "Encore Theater's roster is comprised of legendary talents, and it only makes sense to have an iconic music group like New Edition join its ranks."

Tickets for these highly anticipated shows will go on sale this Friday, November 10, at 10 a.m. PT, with prices starting at $79.95.

The Las Vegas residency announcement follows New Edition's performance at the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday, where they paid tribute to The Spinners. They delivered a memorable performance at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, showcasing songs like "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and "The Rubberband Man."

This performance was not only a tribute to The Spinners but also celebrated the legacy of Soul Train host and creator Don Cornelius, who received the Ahmet Ertegun Award this year. The 2023 Hall of Fame inductees included Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, Rage Against the Machine, Sheryl Crow, George Michael and Willie Nelson.

With a string of top 10 hits, such as "Cool It Now," "Hit Me Off," "If It Isn't Love" and "I'm Still In Love With You," New Edition has left an indelible mark on the R&B genre and continues to captivate audiences.

For more details on the upcoming residency or to purchase tickets click here

SZA Named Variety's 'Hitmaker of the Year'

The Come Up ShowCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
SZA has been crowned "Hitmaker of the Year" at Variety's seventh annual Hitmakers celebration. The event, set to grace the Nov. 29 publication and accompanied by an exclusive invitation-only brunch on December 2, recognizes the individuals who have played a pivotal role in shaping and defining this year's 25 most-consumed songs, according to Billboard and Luminate Charts.

Variety's Executive Music Editor, Jem Aswad, succinctly captures the spirit of the event, stating, "The goal of Hitmakers has always been to honor the top artists and songs of the year, and especially the people behind them." He goes on to elaborate, "SZA, her 'SOS' album and tour, and her hits this year are not only a creative and commercial triumph but one with a reach that extends far beyond the music world. We are immensely proud to honor her as our Hitmaker of the Year."

SZA's distinction as Hitmaker of the Year follows a string of award nominations, solidifying her status as a dominant force in the music industry. Most recently, Femme It Forward announced its Give Her FlowHERS Awards Gala, featuring SZA alongside notable artists like Teyana Taylor, Brandy, Flo Milli, and others.

Furthermore, the BET Soul Train Awards recently revealed that SZA, Usher, and Summer Walker are leading the pack with nine nominations each. The awards ceremony, scheduled to air on Nov. 26, marks a remarkable month for the talented artist.

SZA's critically acclaimed album, "SOS," made a significant impact with its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in December. The album comprises 23 tracks, including hit singles like "Kill Bill," "Snooze" and "Nobody Gets Me," with collaborations featuring renowned artists such as Don Toliver, Phoebe Bridgers, Travis Scott and Ol' Dirty Bastard.

Following the album's remarkable success, SZA embarked on an extensive tour across Europe and the United States, captivating audiences with her artistry. The North American leg of her tour commenced on Sept. 20, spanning major cities and concluding in Phoenix, Arizona, on Oct. 29.

Variety's 2023 Hitmakers program, meticulously curated by the editorial team, includes a lineup of distinguished awards:

  • SZA – Hitmaker of the Year
  • Olivia Rodrigo – Storyteller of the Year
  • Boygenius – Group of the Year
  • Metro Boomin – Producer of the Year
  • Mark Ronson – Soundtrack of the Year
  • Billie Eilish and FINNEAS – Film Song of the Year: "What Was I Made For"
  • Maren Morris – Changemaker of the Year
  • Republic Records – Label of the Year
  • Grammy Museum President and CEO Michael Sticka – Music Education and Advocacy Leadership Award, presented by City National Bank

Hip-Hop Icon Missy Elliott Steals the Show at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony

Photo Credit: Courtesy Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 
Hip-hop pioneer Missy Elliott took center stage at the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, making history as the first woman rapper to be inducted into the prestigious hall. The event, which took place on Friday at Brooklyn's Barclays Center and lasted for over four hours, celebrated the remarkable contributions of women and Black artists to the world of rock and roll.

Elliott's electrifying performance closed the show and featured a medley of her greatest hits, including "Get Ur Freak On," "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)," "Work It," "Pass That Dutch" and "Lose Control." Queen Latifah, presenting the honor to Elliott, humorously acknowledged, "Missy will wear you out! This woman goes hard for the art."

In a heartfelt moment, the artist revealed that it was the first time her mother had seen her perform live, expressing her gratitude to share the experience with her. She also acknowledged the 50th anniversary of hip-hop and the significance of being inducted alongside her fellow honorees.

The 2023 induction ceremony featured a diverse and influential group of musicians, celebrating the significant presence of women and Black artists in the world of rock and roll. Notably, this ceremony came shortly after the removal of Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner from the Hall of Fame's board of directors. Wenner had previously made controversial remarks regarding Black and female musicians in his book of interviews. However, the talent displayed by this year's inductees suggested a different narrative.

"Trust me, nothing sounded the same after Missy Elliott came on the scene," Queen Latifah recalled. "Nothing. All the kick snares, everything changed. The bass lines changed, the pockets changed, the cadence, the writing. And that's because Missy has always been a futurist, someone who's always looking ahead."

Other memorable moments of the night included Sheryl Crow and Olivia Rodrigo's opening performance, Elton John's heartfelt tribute to Bernie Taupin, and H.E.R., Sia and Common's medley in celebration of Chaka Khan. Additionally, Dave Matthews, Chris Stapleton, and Sheryl Crow collaborated with Willie Nelson for a lively performance.

Rage Against the Machine and the late guitarist Link Wray were among the other inductees, with performances that underscored the rich diversity of musical genres represented at the ceremony.

Missy Elliott's induction marked a historic moment as she became the first woman rapper to join the esteemed ranks of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The ceremony, streamed live for the first time, offered audiences a chance to witness this musical celebration of inclusion and diversity. A two-hour prime-time special of the event will air on Jan. 1 on ABC, while it will be available for streaming on Jan. 2 on Hulu and Disney+.

2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees:

Performer Category:
Kate Bush
Sheryl Crow
Missy Elliott
George Michael
Willie Nelson
Rage Against the Machine
The Spinners

Musical Influence Award:
DJ Kool Herc
Link Wray

Musical Excellence Award:
Chaka Khan
Al Kooper
Bernie Taupin

Ahmet Ertegun Award:
Don Cornelius

'Tupac Shakur Way' Unveiled in Oakland, California: A Tribute to a Hip-Hop Legend

In a heartfelt tribute to the late iconic rapper Tupac Shakur, a section of MacArthur Boulevard was officially renamed "Tupac Shakur Way" in Oakland on Friday. The city celebrated this renaming at an event by Lake Merritt, where family members, fans, and fellow artists paid their respects.

Mo Shakur, Tupac's brother, underscored the significance of the rapper's message, stating, "Tupac was more than a rapper; he was a cultural icon. He strived to convey the importance of community care, and that's why his legacy endures."

While Tupac was born in Harlem and raised in Baltimore, the Bay Area held a special place in his heart. His parents were active members of the Black Panther Party, and he spent part of his early life in Marin City, California. He later moved to East Oakland in the late 1980s.

Tupac's sister, Sekyiwa Shakur, expressed her joy, mentioning that her brother would be thrilled to see the love and recognition from a place he held dear.

Money B, a fellow musician, emphasized the lasting impact of Tupac's legacy, saying, "He influenced not just one generation but two more. There are generations who weren't even born when he made music, yet they are still influenced by his legacy."

The initiative to rename this portion of MacArthur Boulevard was spearheaded by Oakland City Councilwoman Carroll Fife, with the goal of ensuring that Tupac's legacy endures and inspires positive change.

The City Council voted unanimously to designate the section of MacArthur Boulevard between Grand Avenue and Van Buren Avenue as "Tupac Shakur Way." This decision aligns with Oakland's tradition of honoring beloved artists, activists, and community leaders with street names, such as Peter Van Kleef, Huey P. Newton, Dorothy King and Too Short.

Tupac Shakur, originally known as Lesane Parish Crooks, transitioned from a young boy in Harlem to an influential figure in the West Coast hip-hop scene, with Oakland playing a pivotal role in his career. He often credited the city for shaping his artistry and providing him with his "Game."

Despite his untimely death, Tupac's popularity continues to soar, with over 75 million albums sold worldwide. The Oakland City Council resolution celebrating his legacy acknowledges his significant contributions to art and social outreach.

This renaming follows previous efforts to commemorate Tupac in Oakland, including the proclamation of "Tupac Shakur Day" in 2016 and various community events honoring his legacy.

Michael Jackson Reigns as Highest-Paid Deceased Celebrity of 2023

Constru-centroCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
In a remarkable resurgence, the late 'King of Pop,' Michael Jackson, has reestablished his reign as the world's highest-paid deceased celebrity for the year 2023, according to Forbes magazine's annual list released on Tuesday. With a staggering estimated income of $115 million, Jackson's return to the top spot marks the first time in four years that he has dominated the rankings.

Elvis Presley, Jackson's late father-in-law, closely follows, securing the second position with estimated earnings of $100 million. The list also features an illustrious lineup of other departed legends, including Bob Marley, Prince, John Lennon and Whitney Houston, collectively amassing an approximate $470 million in earnings over the past year. Notably, this figure represents a significant 70% increase from 2022.

These rankings were meticulously determined based on pre-tax earnings derived from sales, licensing deals, streams, and other sources of income spanning from October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023.

Full List of Highest-Paid Deceased Celebrities in 2023:

US singer, Michael Jackson – $115 million
US singer and actor, Elvis Presley – $100 million
US keyboardist, Ray Manzarek – $45 million
US cartoonist, Dr. Seuss – $40 million
US cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz – $30 million
US singer, Prince – $30 million
US singer, Whitney Houston – $30 million
British singer, John Lennon – $22 million
Jamaican singer, Bob Marley – $16 million
US singer, Bing Crosby – $14 million
British singer, George Harrison – $14 million
US golfer, Arnold Palmer – $10 million
US singer, Marilyn Monroe – $10 million

'Thriller' Resurfaces as a Halloween Hit

Halloween witnessed the haunting revival of one of Michael Jackson's most iconic tracks, "Thriller." The spine-chilling masterpiece reclaimed its throne at the No. 1 spot on Billboard's R&B Digital Song Sales chart, demonstrating that even after decades, its allure continues to captivate music enthusiasts.

The R&B Digital Song Sales chart tracks the bestselling R&B songs in the United States. "Thriller" sold over 2,400 copies during the recent tracking period, marking the sixth time it has ascended to the chart's zenith, with the Halloween season consistently propelling its resurgence.

"Thriller" isn't content with merely topping the R&B Digital Song Sales chart; it has also ascended to No. 11 on the Digital Song Sales ranking, spanning various musical genres. As Halloween festivities continue, "Thriller" is poised to ascend even further on the charts, keeping alive the enchanting spirit of this timeless masterpiece.