For The Record: Quick News On Ashanti, Avril Lavigne, Nelly, JC Chasez, White Stripes, Biohazard & More

Ashanti‘s hooked up with ladykiller Ja Rule for her duets, but this time, she’s going to be the one inflicting pain — of the preternatural variety. The singer is slated for a guest spot on UPN’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” in which she’ll play Lissa, a potential and possibly deadly love interest for the always unlucky-in-love Xander. The episode, called “First Date,” airs on February 11 at 8 p.m. …

The Nelson Mandela SOS Concert, a benefit scheduled for February 2 and featuring Bono, Elton John and others (see “Bono, Shaggy, Macy Gray To Play AIDS Benefit In South Africa” ) has been canceled because of problems with the producers, organizers said in a statement on Friday (January 17). The event was to take place on Robben Island, where the former president of South Africa had been a political prisoner for nearly two decades. …

Avril Lavigne‘s first headlining trek now carries a name, the Try To Shut Me Up! Tour, as well some fellow countrymen. Vancouver’s Gob, supporting their F.U. EP, will open all dates of the trek, which has added four dates and one routing change to its itinerary. The five-week outing will now begin on April 9 in Toronto. When the tour was first announced last week, the gig at the Air Canada Centre was the second venue the wife-beater-wearing singer planned to visit. …

Nelly will have an interesting opening act when he performs at a Miami party on March 8 — Andrew W.K. Details on the show are available at axehouseparty.com. … The White Stripes have set a April 15 release date for Elephant, the follow-up to their breakthrough LP, White Blood Cells.

Looks like A.J. McLean is back on the market. The badass Backstreet Boy and his fiancée, Sarah Martin, have called off their wedding, according to a post on Martin’s official Web site. … JC Chasez has spent the last month working with producers Dallas Austin (TLC), Rockwilder (Missy Elliott) and Brad and Alex (‘NSYNC) on his solo album. “I’m still at the very beginning stages,” he said at Monday’s American Music Awards. “But I’m going back to the studio this month and we’ll see what happens.” …

New York metal mob Biohazard have dropped off of their current U.S. tour with Kittie and Eighteen Visions. According to a source close to the band, Biohazard bassist/vocalist Evan Seinfeld, who also stars on the HBO prison drama “Oz,” has been hospitalized and is undergoing tests for a sudden and as-yet-undetermined illness. It’s reportedly the first tour the band has canceled in their 15-year history. … Missing-in-action singer/songwriter Elliott Smith will come out of hibernation this month with a couple of live shows at the Bowery Ballroom in New York (January 24 and 25) and then two more at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles (January 31 and February 1). Smith, who hasn’t released a record since 2000′s Figure 8 and has been dogged with rumors of heroin abuse for the last year, recently played an unannounced benefit concert for “Clean Needles Now” at L.A.’s Spaceland Theater. At the show, Smith told the audience about his potential plans to release a double album. …

Supporting their sixth album, One Beat, riot grrrl trio Sleater-Kinney will begin their 16-date North American tour January 31 in Portland, Oregon, and wrap things up February 23 in Chicago. … 20-year-old Norwegian wunderkind Sondre Lerche will embark on his first North American tour in support of his 2002 debut record, Faces Down. The folk-pop singer’s 16-date tour kicks off February 17 at New York’s Bowery Ballroom and ends March 10 at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles. …

01.16.03

Busta Rhymes is planning a headlining tour for the spring, after he shoots a video for “I Know What You Want,” a collaboration with Mariah Carey and the Flipmode Squad and the next single from his LP It Ain’t Safe No More. “I want to get the video out of the way before we hit the road, so we ain’t got to worry about none of that and can just focus on showing the love to the people,” he said at Monday’s American Music Awards. … Also at the AMAs, Big Boi said that the Outkast clothing line, which was put on hold while they recorded their upcoming double album, will make a big splash in the spring. The rapper said Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and other major department stores have agreed to carry the line. …

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee have reached a settlement agreement regarding the custody of their two children, Brandon and Dylan. The ex-spouses agreed to share custody, according to their lawyers, though a provision of the agreement allows Anderson to bring the kids with her if she relocates to Michigan within the year to live with her fiancé, Kid Rock. … Celine Dion will release a new album, One Heart, on March 25, the same day her Las Vegas extravaganza “A New Day …” opens at the new Caesars Palace Colosseum. The first single will be “I Drove All Night,” originally recorded by Roy Orbison in 1988 and a year later by Cyndi Lauper. The song will double as the centerpiece of Chrysler’s new “Drive & Love” ad campaign. …

Two albums chock-full of Spiritualized rarities will be released on Arista/Spaceman Records this year. The first hits record stores in March and features 11 tracks that were never before available on LP. The second release, slated for fall, will boast obscure 7-inch releases and cuts from their Medication EP. … Budding remixers can download various vocal and instrumental tracks of Delerium‘s new single, “After All,” from their Web site for a remix contest beginning January 17 and ending February 14. The winning remix will be featured on the group’s new album, Chimera, due May 20. …

Phil Collins, Queen, Van Morrison and Little Richard will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame at the 34th annual ceremony and awards dinner on June 12 in New York. … If you’ve got enough cash, you could sing for Def Leppard. The band is holding an auction on eBay, and the winner will get to belt out “Pour Some Sugar on Me” with the band at its Hallam FM Arena show in their hometown of Sheffield, England. Bidding is currently up to 4,200 pounds (about $6,300), and runs through January 23. All proceeds will go to Help a Hallam Child, which provides assistance for needy kids in the English regions of South Yorkshire and the North Midlands. …

Evil death metal dudes Morbid Angel are currently hard at work on the follow-up to 2000′s Gateways to Annihilation, their publicist said. The disc is tentatively slated for a September release. … Strapping Young Lad will issue their third studio album, SYL, on February 11. The disc, the band’s first in nearly six years, was recorded in Vancouver and was produced by guitarist and frontman Devin Townsend. A full tour with Townsend’s other outfit the Devin Townsend Band will follow the album’s release. …