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Sales Slide for Beyonce's New Chart-Topper

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(Reuters) - R&B singer Beyonce went to No. 1 on the U.S. pop album chart with her fourth consecutive release on Wednesday, although its sales were the lowest of her solo career.

Her new album "4" sold 310,000 copies during the week ended July 3, according to tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan -- about the same amount as the next four albums combined.

Her previous release, the double-disc "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," sold 482,000 copies during its first week of sale in November 2010, fueled by the hits "If I Were a Boy" and "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

Her first solo outing away from Destiny's Child, "Dangerously in Love," started with 317,000 in 2003, while 2006's "B-Day" opened with 541,000.

The new album has not yet had the benefit of a hit single, with "Run the World (Girls)" stalling at No. 29 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 singles chart. It is now at No. 84.

Executives at her Sony Music label have been on the counter-attack in recent days after the album leaked on June 7 and fans took to the Web to give it a lukewarm reception.

Elsewhere on the album chart, English pop singer Adele's "21" rebounded one place to No. 2 in its 19th week, with 91,500 copies. Its tally stands at 2.5 million copies, easily making it the biggest album of the year.

Rapper Big Sean's debut release "Finally Famous: The Album" came in at No. 3 with 87,000 copies.

Disney starlet Selena Gomez, currently in theaters with the teen comedy "Monte Carlo," arrived at No. 4 with sales of 78,000 for "When the Sun Goes Down," an album on which she shares credit with her band the Scene. Their previous set, "A Year Without Rain," opened at No. 4 with 66,200 last September.

Last week's champ, R&B singer Jill Scott, fell to No. 5 with "Light of the Sun" (54,800).

"American Idol" accounted for the two other newcomers in the top 10. Season 7 winner David Cook debuted at No. 7 with his second album "This Loud Morning" (45,800 copies). It marked a sharp drop from his self-titled debut, which arrived at No. 3 with 280,000 copies in the same week as Beyonce's previous album.

Reigning champ Scotty McCreery came in at No. 10 with the Walmart-exclusive EP "American Idol Season 10: Scotty McCreery" (40,400). A full-length album, released immediately after his victory in May, debuted at No. 12 with 23,000 copies.

Filling out the top 10, country singer Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party" (47,800) rose four to No. 6 in its 35th week, talent contest winner Jackie Evancho's "Dream With Me" (43,900) fell four to No. 8 in its third week, and the Eminem side project "Hell: the Sequel" (42,200) fell three to No. 9, also in its third week.

Auditions Announced for 'Jekyll & Hyde' Musical, Aug. 3

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Open auditions for the Tony Award-nominated musical “Jekyll & Hyde,” opening the 2011-2012 season at Sturges Center for the Fine Arts, have been announced for August. Eleven major and minor roles, plus ensemble members, are open. A stipend for all roles is available.

Auditions are 6-10 p.m. Aug. 3 at Sturges Center, 780 N. E St., San Bernardino. Sign ups begin at 5:30 p.m. Call back auditions are 6-10 p.m. Aug. 4, also at Sturges Center. Those auditioning are asked to bring a copy of their most recent headshot with attached resume, and have prepared 32 bars of a musical theater piece, reflecting the style of the show.

Actors auditioning for a specific role will be asked to sing a song from the show. An accompanist will be provided. Singers are asked to bring their sheet music in the correct key. Music and selected scenes from the show will be provided at the audition for the call back.

Set in 19th century London, “Jekyll and Hyde tells of the classic tale about the battle between good and evil. It tells the story of the brilliant English physician Henry Jekyll, whose passion to discover why man is both good and evil leads to tragic results for himself and for those he loves.

When Jekyll’s research proposal to test his theory on a human subject is rejected, he decides to drink the experimental formula he created on himself. But Jekyll unwittingly unleashes the evil Edward Hyde within, and the madman’s cruelty soon wreaks havoc on the streets of London, and leads to violence and murder wherever he goes.

Available roles are Dr. Henry Jekyll/ Edward Hyde (tenor); Lucy Harris, singer at The Red Rat (mezzo-soprano); Emma Carew, Jekyll’s fiancée (soprano); John Utterson, Jekyll’s lawyer and friend (baritone); Simon Stride, Jekyll’s rival for Emma’s affections (bass/baritone); and Sir Danvers Carew, Emma’s father and chairman to the board of governors (baritone).

Other roles are Lady Beaconsfield/Nellie, only female member of the board of governors/mistress of The Red Rat (mezzo); Bishop of Basingstoke, member of the board of governors (baritone); Lord Savage, (member of the board of governors (baritone); Sir Archibald Proops, member of the board of governors (baritone); General Lord Glossip, retired army and member of the board of governors (baritone); and ensemble members.

Rehearsals will be Sept. 12 to Oct. 13 at Screenland Studios in Burbank.

Performances are Oct. 14-16 at Sturges Center. The production is a presentation by the City of San Bernardino Economic Development Agency.

A production crew whose experience and background includes award-winning stage shows, television series and films has been assembled for the show.

Producing director is Jason James, with Sarah Ayotte, musical director; Nolan Livesay, conductor; Diane David, stage manager; KC Wilkerson; projection designer; Timothy Mahoney, set design; and Nick Van Houten, lighting designer.

Other team members are; Alayna Aguilera, sound design/engineer; Bryon Batista, hair/wigs/makeup; Misti Soper & Claudia Adelina, costumes, and Bethany Schwartzkopf, properties. The original show featured music by Frank Wildhorn, with lyrics by Steve Cuden, and was written in the late 1980s, but the show was not produced on Broadway. Leslie Bricusse rewrote the show and it premiered at the Alley Theatre in 1990.

“Jekyll and Hyde” opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre in April 1997 and ran for more than 1,500 performances, closing in January 2001. It was the theater’s longest-running show.

For more audition information, please email questions and concerns to: production@ sturgescenter.org.

Alvin Ailey Dancers Open U.S. Festival in Moscow

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(Reuters) - The Alvin Ailey dance company, with its roots in the U.S. civil rights movement, opened the American Seasons festival in Moscow this week, electrifying audiences with a 50-year anniversary performance of its seminal, emotionally charged ballet "Revelations."

After a six-year absence in Russia, the contemporary troupe stayed true to its reputation that an "Ailey dancer does it all" rousing the audience with a range of jazz, classical and street to the soulful vocals of Nina Simone and the Duke Ellington orchestra's exuberant compositions.

But it was the stirring gospel and powerful story-telling of "Revelations" -- reaching arms and splayed hands evoking grief, determination, hope and redemption -- that set the Stanislavsky Music Theater clapping in chorus.

"When I think of 'Revelations', it speaks a lot to some of our struggles in our own country with racism and discrimination and how we overcame it because of our great faith: That is a story that needs to be told," Ailey's newly appointed artistic director Robert Battle told Reuters.

"I think sometimes you learn more about each other through the arts than you do through the history books," said Battle, who is taking over from Judith Jameson as the company's third artistic director since its creation in 1958.

"Dancing breaks down barriers that is why it is so wonderful to travel to some place like Moscow."

Since its debut in New York city in 1960, more people have seen "Revelations" than any other modern dance piece.

Ahead of the Russian performance on Wednesday the Ailey company aired a brief documentary on the inspiration for the piece: Drawn from Ailey's memories of an impoverished childhood in the segregated and church-going world of small town Texas.

First as a dancer with the Lester Horton Dance Company and then as a choreographer of 79 ballets infused with what he called "blood memories" from his troubled youth, Ailey became a hero to a whole generation of black modern dancers.

In 1988 he won the Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Contribution to American Culture and died a year later in December at the age of 58.

The Ailey troupe's Moscow performance not only launched a year of U.S. cultural events in Russia but the reopening of the Moscow Dance Inversions contemporary performance festival, including shows from France, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands this year, after a three year pause.

Gospel Music Documentary A Spiritual Awakening

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(Reuters) - A white American expatriate living in Denmark has become the first filmmaker to direct a documentary feature about black gospel music.

"Rejoice and Shout," which has just begun a limited run in North American theaters, traces the 200-year evolution of gospel from southern slave plantations to the modern-day blending of urban pop elements.

It includes rare, full-length performance footage dating back to the 1920s, uplifting religious scenes, and interviews with the likes of late Dixie Hummingbirds lead singer Ira Tucker, Sr., Mavis Staples and Smokey Robinson.

The film narrows its focus to 15 artists, including the Golden Gate Quartet, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Swan Silvertones, Thomas Dorsey, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson and Andrae Crouch.

"Rejoice and Shout" was directed by Don McGlynn ("The Howlin' Wolf Story"), and produced by Joe Lauro who owns a film archive boasting more than 30,000 individual musical performances.

McGlynn, 55, who lives in Copenhagen with his Danish wife and their children, said in a recent interview that he was introduced to gospel as a youngster when he saw Mahalia Jackson -- "the queen of gospel" -- on television, just like "every little kid in America.

"RIPPED THE PLACE APART"

"Then I started seeking it out more in particular," McGlynn added. "Among the greatest shows I've ever seen and certainly the most intense show I ever saw was James Cleveland with his choir (in the early 1980s). I literally thought the walls were gonna come down, it was so intense!

"I've also seen the Blind Boys of Alabama a few times, same thing. They just completely ripped the place apart."

So it was with a mix of elation and sorrow that he spent two years in an editing room, selecting 70 minutes of footage from "dozens and dozens of hours."

Many gospel stars ended up on the cutting room floor. Some did not even get that far because no footage exists. Thus the film largely ignores R.H. Harris and Sam Cooke, gospel superstars who served as lead singers of the Soul Stirrers, perhaps the greatest gospel harmony group ever.

"Even though that's one of my favorite groups, the Soul Stirrers, I was just so sad there wasn't anything," McGlynn said. "I love Sam Cooke too, individually, his great solo records. But these things happen sometimes."

Cooke's diverse career was covered a few years ago in a Grammy-winning documentary. But viewers wanting to find out more about Harris, who died in obscurity in 2000, will have to dig deeply. He merely rates a Wikipedia stub.

Because of the scope of the project, "Rejoice and Shout" does not delve too deeply into the lives of its subjects. Clara Ward, viewers learn, was suffocated (metaphorically) by a controlling stage mother. Prolific songwriter Thomas Dorsey, whose many gems include "Peace in the Valley," also composed filthy blues tunes.

But "king of gospel" the Rev. James Cleveland's reported double life as a closeted gay man is not discussed, nor indeed is the vibrant gay subculture in gospel.

"James Cleveland is so magnificent and so important, I didn't need to wave a flag about his problems," McGlynn said. "I wonder how he felt being gay in that circumstance?"

Cleveland died in 1991 with an estate worth an estimated $6 million, while others died in poverty. The financial angle also goes unmentioned.

With the exception of Edwin Hawkins' massive 1969 pop hit "Oh Happy Day," gospel's crossover appeal to the white mainstream is largely overlooked. The Dixie Hummingbirds and Claude Jeter of the Swan Silvertones recorded with Paul Simon. Kirk Franklin reached the top 10 of the pop charts in the 1990s. Gospel music was used for the Coen brothers' 2000 movie "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?"

McGlynn hopes moviegoers will take the critically acclaimed film's title to heart, and treat it like a religious experience.

"There's an experiential thing about seeing it with other people," he said. "I'd like to see people talk back to the screen. We did a lot of work on the sound to make it enveloping and I really hope they do that."

Patrice Rushen Hosts Shaping The Sound Of Television: The Black Music Directors

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In celebration of June being Black Music Month, The Next Twenty, the California African American Museum (CAAM), the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP, the California Legislative Black Caucus, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO (AFTRA), recently presented at CAAM Shaping The Sound Of Television: The Black Music Directors, a panel discussion moderated by Grammy Award-winning R&B and jazz vocalist, composer, musical director and pianist Patrice Rushen.

The panel included six extraordinary talents who hold significant roles as music directors across the broad spectrum of broadcast and cable television: Michael Bearden (“Lopez Tonight”), Ray Chew (“American Idol”), Rickey Minor (“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”), Greg Phillinganes (“ Grammy Awards”) Harold Wheeler (“Dancing with the Stars”), and James “Big Jim” Wright (“The Mo’Nique Show”).

The discussion illuminated their amazing journeys and explored the role of music directors as orchestrators of high-rated TV programs.

“Dr. Patrice Rushen, historically significant in her own right, captured music history with the leading music directors in television,” said program visionary Jeanie Weems, Owner of The Next Twenty. “This one-of-akind event captured the essence of my vision and took it well beyond my imagination.”

“These very visible musical directors are important to our community, because they give our children motivation and inspiration that they, too, can succeed in these creative fields,” said State Senator Curren D. Price, Jr. (D-Los Angeles). As CLBC Chair and Chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, Senator Price is a champion of arts education and authored successful legislation last year that now allows taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to the California Arts Council on their state personal income tax returns.

“African Americans have gradually disappeared from leading prime time acting and news broadcasting roles on television, but in this context our contributions continue to be quite significant,” said California African American Museum (CAAM) Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson.

“ Tonight’s program not only brought to life CAAM’s mission to preserve and promote the art, history and culture of African Americans, but it allowed more than 400 attendees, including budding high school musicians, to come together to be a part of history, gain insight into the television music industry and enthusiastically celebrate the current contributions of seven fabulously talented music artists of African descent. It was a great night!”

AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said: “This celebration of Black Music Month showcased the talent and creative diversity of these African American music directors, whose influences on incredible AFTRA-covered television programs are undeniable. We are proud to have partnered with the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP, CAAM, the California Legislative Black Caucus and Jeanie Weems in this historic event, that celebrated and highlighted these amazing artists and their contributions to the television industry, and whose well deserved recognition is long overdue.”

“This was a true collaboration that was able to bring these extraordinary musical legends together in this historic event,” said Willis Edwards of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP. “Thanks to the creativity of Jeanie Weems, Owner of The Next Twenty, the joint efforts of AFTRA and the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP, the organization and beautiful environment provided by CAAM, and the support of the California Legislative Black Caucus, we were able to create a truly memorable event. The Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP was proud to participate in an event that brought to the forefront an important segment of the entertainment industry, the multitalents of a select group of exceptional African American musicians who were raised in their local communities, developed themselves through music direction, and have risen to the heights where they now serve as role models for the next generation of musicians.”

An accomplished musical director, keyboardist, arranger and composer, Michael Bearden has worked with music greats such as Madonna, Sting, Carlos Santana, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart, to name a few. He’s written for notable jazz artists Rachelle Ferrell, Herbie Mann, Everette Harp and Will Downing, in addition to composing and arranging for several feature film scores and documentaries.

Bearden also served as music director for Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour, and co-producer and music director on the documentary-style film of the same name.

Emmy Award-nominated music producer and composer, Rickey Minor has built a resume of well-known projects and artist collaborations, including Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Beyonce, Quincy Jones and Jamie Foxx. He’s served as music director for the “Super Bowl,” “The Grammy Awards,” and six seasons of “American Idol.” He’s a three-time Emmy nominee for outstanding music direction, most recently drawing recognition for the “51st Annual Grammy Awards” show and “Genius: A Night For Ray Charles,” the television special that brought together such diverse figures as Elton John, Kenney Chesney and Norah Jones.

Orchestrator, composer, conductor, arranger and record producer, Harold Wheeler’s body of work includes four decades of composing and arranging musicals such as A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls, Coco and Scandal; Melvin Van Peeble’s Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death and Don’t Play Us Cheap. Wheeler’s been nominated for six Tony Awards for his work on musicals Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray, The Full Monty, Swing!, Little Me and The Life. He’s secured several motion pictures credits, composed jingles for major corporate brands, and served as arranger and/or music director for special events. Wheeler was also music conductor for the 76th and 79th Academy Awards productions, only the second African American to serve in that role.

Grammy -winning composer, lyricist, music producer, and singer, James “Big Jim” Wright is the Musical Director of the “Mo’Nique Show” and the “Penthouse Playas.” Has worked intimately as a songwriter and producer with many musical greats, including Janet Jackson, Elton John, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Anthony Hamilton, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. Wright has won several awards, including a Grammy for Best Gospel Song for Yolanda Adams’ “Be Blessed” and as Producer – Best R&B Album for Chaka Khan’s 2007 album “Funk This.” He is also known as one of the lead singers of the original group Sounds of Blackness. Greg Phillinganes has amassed a long list of credits as a musician, musical conductor and producer.

As the 2011 Grammy Awards Music Director, he served in the same role in 2008. Just recently he was the Music Director for “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.” Having also served as Musical Director for Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and “Dangerous” tours, Phillinganes has been recruited to serve as Musical Director for Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” Las Vegas stage show. He has worked with artists from every musical genre from Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, and Lionel Richie to Eric Clapton, Anita Baker, and Paulinho Da Costa.

Veteran composer and bandleader Ray Chew is the music director for Fox’s “American Idol.” He has served as musical director for various television series programs including NBC’s “It’s Showtime At The Apollo,” “Showtime at Apollo,” “The Singing Bee,” and “Sunday Best” on BET. Chew’s recording career spans from legendary artists such as Diana Ross and Donny Hathaway through Alicia Key’s three Grammy award-winning albums and many more.

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