R&B Beat: James Brown, Carl Thomas, Boyz II Men

Multiple fire accelerants were used in structure owned by Godfather of Soul, investigators say.

The fire that last week burned an Augusta, Ga., office building owned by funk legend James Brown has been ruled an arson. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Atlanta confirmed that multiple fire accelerants were used to start several fires in the structure, according to Katrice Bryant, public information officer of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department. ...

R&B crooner Carl Thomas attended a benefit auction to support the music industry's LIFEbeat AIDS charity in New York on Monday night (May 1). Joining Thomas, whose Emotional debuted at #2 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart last week, were vocal group Boyz II Men. ... Lucy Pearl singer Dawn Robinson was on the roster to play in a celebrity softball game in Los Angeles on Saturday, but she didn't make it. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Layzie Bone took the field in the game, in which celebrities played against KKBT-FM radio DJs to raise money for Unity One, a gang peace organization. ...

Soul singer Ginuwine will make his big-screen debut in the basketball comedy "Juwanna Mann" later this year. The singer showed up on CBS-TV's "Martial Law" last year. ... The soundtrack to "Big Momma's House" (May 30), put together by SoSo Def producer Jermaine Dupri, features Dupri, as well as tracks by rappers Da Brat, Nas and appearances from Missy Elliott and Kurupt. On the first single, "I've Got to Have It," Dupri and Nas team up with soulful Atlanta singer Monica. ...

Boston radio station KISS-FM's June 3 Kiss Concert 2000 will feature R&B singer Macy Gray, pop stars Hanson and Christina Aguilera and Italian dance-music duo Eiffel 65. The concert, which also will include Goo Goo Dolls and Jessica Simpson, raises money for the Genesis Fund, a nonprofit group that helps children born with birth defects. ...

R&B vocalist Kelis is collaborating with dance artist Moby. The "Caught Out There" singer is working with Moby in a New York studio. ... Before heading out on her summer tour, Diana Ross and the Supremes will appear on NBC-TV's "Today" show in an outdoor concert. Ross, Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne will perform on May 8. ...

A federal judge in New York ruled on Friday that MP3.com's online music-storage service, My.MP3.com, is violating the copyrights of five major record labels. "We're pleased with the court's decision," said Hilary Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued MP3.com in January. ... R&B vocal trio Next are set to release the follow-up single to the hit "Too Close" to radio next week. "Wifey" is the first single from Welcome to Nextasy, the release of which has been pushed back to June 20. ...

The Memphis (Tenn.) Rock and Soul Museum opened on Beale Street on Saturday. The Smithsonian Institution–sponsored museum includes film clips, jukeboxes and artifacts, including some of Elvis Presley's clothes and one of Ike Turner's pianos. ... R&B crooner Sam Salter is set to release his second album, The Little Black Book, on June 20. His single, "Once My Shit," is getting heavy urban radio airplay. ... R&B singer Mary J. Blige joined rapper Wyclef Jean on the song "911," from Wyclef's forthcoming album, The Ecleftic, at a club show at S.O.B.'s in New York on Thursday. Rapper Pras also joined Wyclef on the Fugees' "Ready or Not." ...

Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are kicking into high gear again. They've recorded a Janet Jackson song for the upcoming "The Nutty Professor II" soundtrack, and they're working with Babyface and Patti LaBelle on their upcoming albums. ... Speaking of LaBelle, the R&B singer is working on her next album in a Los Angeles studio. Set for a September release, When a Woman Loves will consist entirely of songs by Diane Warren. ...

Smooth soul man Bilal, who sang on "Funky for You" on rapper Common's Like Water for Chocolate, is working on his debut album, tentatively set for a July release. His song "Soul Sista" appears on the "Love and Basketball" soundtrack. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report