Music

Kelly Clarkson to serve as headline act at US Open. Singer Kelly Clarkson will headline opening night at the U.S. Open. The U.S. Tennis Association said Monday the Grammy Award winner will perform at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Aug. 27. This is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Open in the professional era, which began in 1968. The Grand Slam event moved from Forest Hills to Flushing Meadows in 1978. Clarkson recently released her eighth studio album, "Meaning of Life." The Texas-born singer has worldwide sales of more than 25 million albums and 36 million singles. USTA President Katrina Adams calls it an honor to have "such a talented performer join us in this very special year." The opening-night ceremony will include former U.S. Open champions. (PageSix)

David Cook Talks Returning to His Lead Role in Broadway's 'Kinky Boots': 'It Always Feels Fresh'. Ever since David Cook was crowned champion of American Idol's seventh season in 2008, he admits he's "gotten a sick thrill of zigging when people think I'm supposed to zag." And for a guitar-playing rocker like Cook, what zag could be more unexpected than taking on a Broadway role? Cook made his Broadway debut earlier this year as Charlie Price in Kinky Boots -- a part that's proven catnip to rock frontmen looking to take the theater plunge, including Panic! at the Disco's Brendon Urie, Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears and Neon Trees' Tyler Glenn -- and now, he's returning to the role from Tuesday night (July 17) to September 9 before setting out on a fall acoustic tour (launching October 25 in St. Louis). As he prepared to lace up Charlie's shoes again, Cook spoke to Billboard about his unlikely path to the Great White Way, learning not to overthink onstage and his dream future roles (listen up, Lin-Manuel Miranda!). (Billboard)

Stevie Nicks Talks Duet With LeAnn Rimes on 'Borrowed' and Hopes For a Live Performance. Stevie Nicks cried on her living room floor when she first saw Rimes perform "Borrowed" on her TV in 2013. The song, about an intimate, yet fleeting romance between Rimes and her lover, came out on Rimes' Spitfire album when Nicks became enamored with it. The Fleetwood Mac singer knew then that she wanted to sing it with Rimes someday. "It was very easy for me to try to be in that same sad, deeply tragic, passionate place where she was when she wrote that song because I had been there. I had lived there for a long time," Nicks said in an interview with The Associated Press from Mexico, where she was on vacation. Nicks heard from mutual friend and producer Darrell Brown, who co-wrote "Borrowed," that Rimes was planning to touch up some of her hits for her Re-Imagined EP, and she jumped at the chance to record a duet version with Rimes. "Being able to have another artist really kind of get you on so many levels in that authenticity and from that space is really magical," said Rimes. The new version, released last month, balances Nicks' soft croon to Rimes' striking vocals. Like in the previous version, a cool and fading steel guitar compliments the rhythmic melody and calming percussion. Even though Nicks has been singing and recording long before Rimes was on the scene, she said working with her is like going to singing college. "She doesn't brush over anything," said 70-year-old Nicks. "You have to sing every single word with her; otherwise it won't be a good duet because she would leave you in the dust." Rimes, 35, became a star as a teen and launched hits such as "Blue," ?How Do I Live" and "Can't Fight the Moonlight." She won the best new artist Grammy at age 14. Both singers come from different musical backgrounds. Nicks is a rock 'n' roll magnate from Phoenix and Rimes has country roots in Texas, but their voices reflect on a shared passion where heartbreak isn't bound by place, time or genre. Rimes said she came up with the idea for the song during an emotionally troubling moment on an airplane when she noticed someone reading a tabloid magazine with her on the cover. She started to cry when the stranger's husband came to her comfort. "I honestly feel like that guy was an angel," she said. "Some things came over me at that moment and I just remember thinking that title ("Borrowed") to myself." The first line of the song came to Rimes: "I know you're not mine. Only borrowed." From there, she took it to the studio where she fleshed out the rest of the tune. "It's a very honest, authentic moment and capturing a piece of me that I really didn't know existed until I wrote this song," said Rimes. Rimes is currently on a summer tour and Nicks is hitting the road with Fleetwood Mac in the fall. Both singers said they hope to perform the song together someday. "I would love to do a record with LeAnn," said Nicks. "I'm hoping that for some reason we'll get to go onstage and sing this song together." (Billboard)

Chance the Rapper Says His New Album Is Coming Out This Week. Chance the Rapper smashed records with the release of his Grammy-winning debut album, 2016's Coloring Book. The Chicago artist, it would seem, is ready for his next release. In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, Chance said his sophomore album would drop in a matter of days. "I got that feeling when people do something that has a new feel to it," he said of the new LP. "I'm excited for everybody to get that. It's going to come out just in time for the Special Olympics." As previously reported, Chance will headline a concert this Saturday (July 21) in his hometown to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics. So, a surprise release this Friday (if not before) wouldn't be out of the question. The hip-hop star and activist (real name Chancellor Bennett) recently revealed that he's working on projects with Kanye West and Childish Gambino, though the Tribune report doesn't drill into any detail on the forthcoming album or its lineup of guests. As for his unnamed effort with Kanye, Chance discussed their music-making experience in Wyoming. "We're up in the mountains around these wild animals -- it's very different out there -- and we got some music done, and then he asked me if he could do an album with me," Chance explained. "I don't know of a timeline on it yet, the trajectory of it, but he's coming here to work on it some more. We've just started making it, but I don't want to manipulate the situation and impose any time frame, because that can hinder you." Chance also had this to say about Kanye in an interview last week with Complex's Open Late host, Peter Rosenberg. "Working under him, working with him on his albums is crazy, but having him tell me that he wants to produce my album and come to Chicago is like...This month, we're working in Chicago." On its release, Coloring Book became the first streaming-only album to reach the top 10 of the Billboard 200. The set debuted and peaked at No. 8 back in June 2016, with 57.3 million streams. Timing is everything. With a new album ready to drop, Chance's Coloring Book relinquishes its record for the highest-charting streaming-only set to Future's Beastmode 2, which starts at No. 3 on the July 21-dated chart with 73.5 million on-demand audio streams. (Billboard)

'Sound Thinking NYC' Music Education Program Launches to Help Young Women Pursuing Careers in the Music Industry: Exclusive. The summer curriculum involves hands-on recording workshops using ProTools, field trips to music studios and industry offices, and leadership sessions and panel discussions with female professionals. A pilot program launched by New York City's Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), City University of New York's Creative Arts Team and non-profit NY Is Music is aiming to address the gender disparity in the music industry. Together, the organizations have founded Sound Thinking NYC, a free education and career path program for young women in 11th and 12th grade who are interested in careers in music. The inaugural three-week program, which runs through July 27, introduces the students to music production, audio technology and sound recording. The summer curriculum involves hands-on recording workshops using ProTools; field trips to music studios and industry offices; and leadership sessions and panel discussions with women professionals in the music industry. The 40 students in the program went on their first field trip July 9 to visit Rebecca Huston, head audio engineer at Brooklyn's Sunnyvale music venue, where they learned about sound for live music, followed by a July 13 panel with eight women in the music industry, including Songtrust's Molly Neuman; Okayplayer and OkayAfrica editor-in-chief Rachel Hislop; and Carletta Higginson, head of music publishing business development in North America for YouTube and Google Play Music. A high school career day in Brooklyn, New York inspired Downtown Music Publishing CEO Justin Kalifowitz to help launch Sound Thinking, following the 2014 bow of NY Is Music, a coalition of businesses and organizations devoted to advancing New York's music industry. "The kids were not particularly enthused and I got up there and started talking about the music business, and not only my job, but all of the other jobs that exist behind the scenes," Kalifowitz tells Billboard. "I watched the kids' eyes light up. I probably spent an hour and a half answering questions. These were all high school juniors, seniors." Founding NY is Music -- which, in partnership with the MOME, launched the first-ever New York Music Month last June -- originally led Kalifowitz to ask, "This is such a great music industry, we have so many great resources, what can we do to improve music education in public schools? Not just performance, but also using music as a catalyst perhaps to engage people in discussions about their future and discussions about careers." Of late, he says, the question has been specifically how to engage women. In January, the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism conducted an inclusion study of the music industry and found that only 22.4 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2 percent of producers were women. With the MOME's programs allotting New Yorkers frequent opportunities to work in various entertainment departments, leveling the playing field is a key goal within Sound Thinking's mission. "We're really excited about Sound Thinking because there is a real underrepresentation of women, specifically in fields regarding music production, audio technology and sound recording," MOME commissioner Julie Menin tells Billboard. "We think it's a great way to incubate that talent, which will create a real pipeline of women entering into the field." The city-funded, competitive program received 85 applications for this inaugural year, which asked for essays about the girls' relationship to music, family history and thoughts on gender disparity, as well as two letters of recommendation and their high school transcripts. "We wanted to know their transcripts and their grades to give us a picture of them, but we weren't necessarily looking for the A students," says Dr. Jeanne Houck, executive director of the Creative Arts Team at CUNY, who runs the program. "But the primary thing that we were looking for in the applicants was that they had a passion about learning more and demonstrated in their essays and answers that they could commit to exploring the world of music." The 40 students enrolled in this summer's intensive program represent all five boroughs of New York. "We have a diverse group of women from different ethnic backgrounds, different socioeconomic backgrounds," says Ah-Keisha McCants, project director for Sound Thinking NYC. "They're showing so much love and respect to one another." McCants and Houck hope to expand operations to two camps next summer, with 50 students each. They expect a further 100 students for the following summer of 2020, making 250 students the total outreach goal of Sound Thinking NYC in its first three years. In addition to the technical skills, Menin stresses that the students are also learning camaraderie, leadership skills and self-discipline during the workshops. Furthermore, Menin adds that the instruction doesn't stop once the summer program ends. "We marry that with the concept of free workshops during the 11th and 12th grade school year, the fact that they can apply to paid summer internships, they can apply to take free CUNY credit courses during their senior year of high school," she says. "So we really have focused on a number of different ways to continue that exposure and that training." (Billboard)

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