Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood Headline “Today Show” Summer Concert Series

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood Headline “Today Show” Summer Concert Series. NBC’s “Today Show” is getting ready to kick-off their annual summer concert series and they’ve announced a line-up worthy of a Grammy Awards night. Among the artists participating this year are Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, and Keith Urban.  
Leading the pack of music stars set to rock the stage is none other than Sting, who kicks off the “Today” Summer Concert Series on Friday, May 14th. He’ll perform a half-hour concert of some of his greatest hits. Also in May, the “American Idol” winner and runner-up are both set to perform during a special Thursday performance following the show’s season finale on May 27th.  Justin Bieber fronts the June line-up, performing a concert on Friday, June 4th, while Christina Aguilera takes the stage for a special Tuesday performance on June 8th, the release date for her new album “Bionic.” In July, Lady Gaga takes a break from her Monster Ball tour to hit the Plaza with her concert. John Mayer, Carrie Underwood, and Maroon 5 all take the stage during the month of July as well.  In August, Ke$ha, Train, and Keith Urban are all performing, while Katy Perry takes the stage on the 27th, performing new material from her sophomore album. NBC’s “Today Show” Summer Concert Series Line-Up:
•May 14 — Sting
•May 21 — The Script
•May 27 — American Idol Winner and Runner Up (Special Thursday performance)
•June 4 — Justin Bieber
•June 8 — Christina Aguilera
•June 11 — Rascal Flatts
•June18 — James Taylor and Carol King
•June 25 — Maxwell
•July 2 — Maroon 5
•July 9 — Lady Gaga
•July 16 — Enrique Iglesias
•July 23 — John Mayer
•July 30 — Carrie Underwood
•August 6 — Train
•August 13 — Ke$ha
•August 20 — Keith Urban
•August 27 — Katy Perry

2010 Grammy nominees:The Fame (Lady Gaga) up for Album of the Year!

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

For the second year in a row, the Grammy Awards announced their nominations during a special primetime concert, held at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre L.A. Live and broadcast live on CBS. In between performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Maxwell, Sugarland, host LL Cool J and Nick Jonas’ new band, the Administration, presenters read off the nominees in all major categories, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist. Beyoncé led all nominees with 10 nods, followed by Taylor Swift with eight nominations. The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West and Maxwell each received six. (View photos from the Grammy nominations concert.)  Below are the nominees in some of the top categories. For a complete list of nominees, visit And keep checking for predictions, poll and previews of the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, taking place Sunday, Jan. 31 in Los Angeles and broadcasting live on CBS.

Album Of The Year:
I Am…Sasha Fierce (Beyoncé)
The E.N.D. (the Black Eyed Peas)
The Fame (Lady Gaga)
Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King (Dave Matthews Band)
Fearless (Taylor Swift)

Record Of The Year:
“Halo” (Beyoncé)
“I Gotta Feeling” (the Black Eyed Peas)
“Use Somebody” (Kings Of Leon)
“Poker Face” (Lady Gaga)
“You Belong With Me” (Taylor Swift)

Song Of The Year:
“Poker Face,” Lady Gaga & RedOne, songwriters (Lady Gaga)
“Pretty Wings,” Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Use Somebody, “Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings Of Leon)
“You Belong With Me,” Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)

Best New Artist:
Zac Brown Band
Keri Hilson
Silversun Pickups
The Ting Tings

Best Rock Album:
Black Ice (AC/DC)
Live From Madison Square Garden (Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood)
21st Century Breakdown (Green Day)
Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King (Dave Matthews Band)
No Line On The Horizon (U2)

Best Rap Album:
Universal Mind Control (Common)
Relapse (Eminem)
R.O.O.T.S. (Flo Rida)
The Ecstatic (Mos Def)
The Renaissance (Q-Tip)

Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group with Vocals:
“I Gotta Feeling” (the Black Eyed Peas)
“We Weren’t Born To Follow” (Bon Jovi)
“Never Say Never” (the Fray)
“Sara Smile” (Daryl Hall and John Oates)
“Kids” (MGMT)

The Album of the Year category hasn’t been totally respectable in a long time–favoring sales and mainstream recognition over quality–but usually a solid act like Radiohead,Dixie Chicks,White Stripes,OutKast,Bob Dylan will slip in there to class up the joint.  This year? Say it ain’t so, Grammy.  When the nominees were revealed last night during a primetime concert in L.A., we learned that album of the year nominees include Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift. No, that is not the list of top 5 artist on your young cousins’ iPod. Those are the nominees for Album of the Year.  In other silliness, not-new-anymore artists like MGMT and Silversun Pickups were nominated for Best New Artist, though I was glad to see Maxwell’s writers pick up a nod for Song of the Year for the gorgeous “Pretty Wings.” Biggest observations during a stroll through the other categories: The Pop Vocal Album category is scary (Black Eyed Peas, Colbie Caillat and The Fray, such brilliance!) while Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance should include the phrase “over 50 years old” when nominating Prince, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. All legends, of course, but still.  Nice lineup for Best Rock Song of U2, Green Day, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam and Springsteen. And French pop act Phoenix continues its rise with a Best Alternative Album nod for “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”

Essence Festival Adds Maxwell, Al Green, Ne-Yo

essence-music-festivalMaxwell, Anita Baker, Al Green, John Legend, Robin Thicke, Salt-N-Pepa, Ne-Yo and En Vogue will join previously announced headliner Beyonce at the 15th annual Essence Music Festival. The event will be held July 3-5 at the New Orleans Superdome.

Rounding out the bill are Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Teena Marie, Eric Benet, Jazmine Sullivan, Janelle Monae, Raphael Saadiq, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Zap Mama, The Knux, Irvin Mayfield, Lalah Hathaway, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ledisi, Marva Wright, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Brand New Heavies, Dan Dyer, DJ Soul Sister, Keri Hilson, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

The Essence Festival is also known for its empowerment seminars, which are free and open to ticket-holders on a first-come, first-served basis. Among the personalities participating in these events are Bill Cosby, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Donna Brazile, Tom Joyner, Hill Harper and Donnie McClurkin.

In addition, there will be a tribute to TD Jakes featuring CeCe Winans and Marvin Sapp, among others.

Tickets for the Essence festival are available from Ticketmaster. Weekend packages are discounted by 15% through Feb. 15.

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