For The Record: Quick News On Usher, TLC, Ciara, Beck, Alice In Chains, C-Murder, Beyonce, Cher & More

Usher up for more awards, TLC holding auditions, Alice in Chains members reconvene.

In what comes as no surprise, Usher is among the top nominees for this year’s Soul Train Awards. The singer scored four nominations, including Best R&B/Soul, Male for “Confessions Part II,” Best R&B/Soul Album, Male for Confessions and best R&B/Soul or Rap Dance Cut for “Yeah!” The video for “Yeah!” also earned Usher a nod for the Michael Jackson Award for best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video. Fellow ATL native and R&B ingénue Ciara also scored four nominations, including Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, Best R&B/Soul, Female for “Goodies” and Best R&B/Soul Album, Female for Goodies. Other multiple nominees include Alicia Keys, Prince, Jill Scott and Beyoncé, who is nominated both as a solo artist and as part of Destiny’s Child. The Soul Train Awards will be held February 28 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. …

Want to join TLC? The group is holding open-call auditions, starting Saturday in New York at the Hilton and continuing through the rest of the month in Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Miami. Camera-shy singers need not apply, as they’re shooting the auditions for their upcoming reality show for UPN, “R U the Girl with T-Boz and Chilli.” … Seattle radio station 96.5 K-Rock has assembled a lineup of Seattle’s finest (circa mid-1990s) for its “Tsunami Continued Care Relief Concert” on February 18. Topping the bill are the re-formed Alice in ChainsJerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney and Mike Inez — who will perform together for the first time in more than eight years. There is no word yet on who will front the band, whose lead singer, Layne Staley, died in 2002 from a drug overdose. Also scheduled to perform are former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and Sea-town booty enthusiast Sir Mix-A-Lot. Tickets for the event are $40, and go on sale February 10 on K-ROCK’s Web site, www.965KRock.com . …

Fans of Radio 4 got a big surprise last weekend when Beck and his band played a surprise set opening for the New York rockers at the Echo in Los Angeles. It was the second unannounced set the singer played at the club last month, and served as a warm-up for the touring that will follow the March release of his new LP, Guero. … Ever wonder what inspires artists like Björk, Yo La Tengo, Tortoise and Sonic Youth‘s Thurston Moore? Check out Thrill Jockey’s “Looking for a Thrill: An Anthology of Inspiration” DVD (February 22), which collects personal stories from more than 100 musicians about the concerts, records and artists that have motivated them. Others interviewed for the movie — the proceeds from which benefit Greenpeace — include Mike Watt, Jon Spencer, Vic Chesnutt, Steve Albini, Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Ian MacKaye (Fugazi) and Carl Craig. …

Despite being behind bars, C-Murder will release his new album, The Truest **** I Ever Said, on March 22 via Koch Records. The album features guest appearances from the late Soulja Slim, Akon and Capone, among others. C-Murder’s first single, “Y’all Heard,” features B.G. A video for the single, shot in prison and in New Orleans, will be available later this month. C-Murder is currently in jail on second-degree murder charges. … Warren G, Talib Kweli and Fantasia are all upcoming guest stars on the UPN show “All of Us” (which airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET). Warren G plays a warrant officer on February 8, while Kweli and Fantasia both appear as themselves on the March 1 episode. …

NBA players Alonzo Mourning and Carmelo Anthony will host “Zo & Melo’s 8-Ball Challenge” on February 17 at Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Company. A host of celebrities and athletes including Ludacris, Fabolous, Philadelphia EaglesTerrell Owens, New Jersey NetsVince Carter and members of the WWE are scheduled to be on hand to showcase their billiard skills and compete for an exotic all-expenses-paid vacation and NBA All-Star Game tickets. The event will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, and will also include a silent auction featuring items from Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and LeBron James as well as Anthony and Mourning. The net proceeds raised will benefit charities supported by Alonzo Mourning Charities, Inc. and the Carmelo Anthony Foundation Fund. … While Courtney Love has been resolving some of her criminal matters, she’s still facing legal problems of a financial sort. Saturday is the deadline for her to resolve non-payment of legal fees in one civil case, while another company is now also claiming non-payment, according to a complaint filed recently in Olympia, Washington. WMC Mortgage Corp. is seeking foreclosure on a 13-acre property which Love bought in 1997 for Kurt Cobain‘s family, which would mean that the home would be put up for bid at a public auction. Love owes about $318,000, and the company says she hasn’t paid the bills in over a year. …

Sharon Warren, who won rave reviews playing Ray Charles‘ mother in “Ray,” spent a lot of time on the set talking music with Jamie Foxx, as she too is releasing an album. Warren, who has written for Lenny Kravitz, will debut in the spring with the single “There.” … Cher is threatening — or promising, depending on how you feel about her — that her current tour will be her last. Though she’s intimated that about past tours, she’s now saying that this trek, called the Farewell Never Can Say Goodbye Tour, will end April 30 at the Hollywood Bowl with her last live performance ever. …

For the price of a T-shirt and a hat, Megadeth‘s Dave Mustaine will personally tear your demo tape to bits. Fans who purchase a shirt/hat combo from Mustaine’s merchandising company, BandMerch.com, can enter a contest to have their demo critiqued by the singer. As if chiding and derision from a rock star weren’t enough of a prize, the winner will also receive an ESP Dave Mustaine Guitar and Line 6 Guitarport. The deadline for the contest is February 11. … Canadian rockers Hot Hot Heat will hit the road for a trek across the U.S. prior to the release of their major-label debut, Elevator, in early April. Beginning February 21 in Seattle, the band will hit 14 cities across the country, ending up in Dallas on March 15. …

Ben Folds‘ second solo studio LP, Songs for Silverman, has been pushed back from February to April 26. Folds recorded his follow-up to Rockin’ the Suburbs with bassist Jared Reynolds and drummer Lindsay Jamieson, making it his first album with a band since Ben Folds Five‘s final LP in 1999. Songs for Silverman includes the first single, “Landed,” as well as a tribute to Elliott Smith called “Late.” …

01.31.2005

Ashlee Simpson will begin rehearsing on Tuesday for her first-ever tour, which launches next month. …

Mariah Carey is shooting the video for her new single, “It’s Like That,” this week with director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour,” “Red Dragon”). “I don’t want to give it away yet,” Carey told MTV Radio recently, “because you know how things change, but it’s a Las Vegas casino scene. Brett is great at giving things a cinematic feel. We did the ‘Heartbreaker’ video together, and it had such a sense of humor to it, that I hope to have that for this video.” … Clay Aiken is bringing his squeaky-clean image to “Scrubs,” for an episode that was taped in front of a live audience. “Scrubs” usually shoots on a closed set, but Aiken’s episode, which airs February 15 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, makes fun of the laugh tracks associated with traditional sitcoms. …

Jack Russell, lead singer of Great White, said he will not respond to allegations in eight civil suits filed against him by families of the victims of the 2003 nightclub fire that started as a result of his band’s onstage pyrotechnics, according to The Associated Press. The singer’s lawyer said Russell could face criminal prosecution for his role in the West Warwick, Rhode Island, fire, and is therefore not willing to address the charges. … Lil’ Kim‘s manager Damion Butler pleaded guilty in a New York court on Friday to participating in a shooting and conspiring to obtain/traveling with a false passport, according to New York Newsday. Butler, who is currently incarcerated on an unrelated charge, could face up to 71 months in prison. The case stems from a 2001 shootout outside a New York radio station between Kim’s camp and that of Capone (of rap duo Capone-N-Noreaga). Kim is scheduled to stand trial on February 28 on charges of conspiracy, obstruction and perjury. …

The Neptunes, Jermaine Dupri and Mario Winans are among the producers who contributed to Faith Evans‘ fourth album, The First Lady, due March 29. Chris Robinson, who directed the clip for Evans and Twista‘s current hit, “Hope,” is helming the video for the first single, “Again.” …

Janet Jackson and her beau, Jermaine Dupri, are co-hosting a pre-Super Bowl party designed to raise money for scholarships. The Willie Gary Celebrity Scholarship Party — to which Magic Johnson, Bow Wow, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya, and others have been invited — will be held Saturday at the Aetna Building in Jacksonville, Florida. …

Alanis Morissette will teach you how to be Canadian in a few easy steps when she appears in an upcoming episode of the Great White North’s teen soap opera “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Morissette will make a cameo during a three-episode storyline in which Kevin Smith (as himself) visits Degrassi while doing research for a “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” sequel titled “Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, Eh?,” according to The Ottawa Sun. The singer will play Degrassi’s principal in the story-within-a-story, and will spend the episode throwing out an obscene number of Canadian stereotypes, including references to the metric system and the notion that Canadians say “aboot” instead of “about.” The episode will air Stateside on the N channel during the next season of the show, which starts February 18. … Carmen Electra will voice a character on a preview episode of “American Dad,” the latest animated series from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane. Electra voices Lisa Ailver, the hottest girl in class whose heart is won by the power-mad class president, Steve, whose father just so happens to be a CIA agent. The episode airs Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET on FOX. …

Rapper Chuck D and a host of others who played pivotal roles in the creation of Public Enemy‘s seminal album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back will assemble at New York University on February 25-26 for “The Making of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” The in-depth discussions will cover various aspects of the 1988 album, from its creation to its place in music history. In addition to panel discussions, there will be a screening of “Public Enemy: London Calling,” an in-progress documentary chronicling PE’s U.K. tours. … Jem, who returned to her DJing roots for the closing party of the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend, will release “24″ as the second single from her debut, Finally Woken. After shooting the video next month, Jem will hit the U.K. for a promotional tour and then return to the States for an outing with Gavin DeGraw. …

Trey Anastasio and John Medeski will join Moe at a benefit for tsunami survivors scheduled for February 10 at New York’s Roseland Ballroom. Dave Matthews Band are matching the proceeds from the event. … Lisa Marie Presley has set an April 5 release date for her second album, Now What. The first single is a cover of Don Henley‘s “Dirty Laundry.” … Lifehouse have just released the first single off their new self-titled album (March 29), the moody ballad “You and Me.” The “Hanging by a Moment” group’s third effort features the songs “Come Back Down,” “Blind,” “All and All,” “Better Luck,” “Days Go By,” “Into the Sun,” “Undone,” “We’ll Never Know,” “Walking Away,” “Chapter One” and “The End.” New bassist Bryce Soderberg will join the band when it hits the road in March. …