Kelly Rowland

As one third of Destiny’s Child, one of the best-selling female musical groups of all time, Kelly Rowland has brought the sound of her voice to millions of fans. She’s graced videos, been featured in magazines and performed on television and concert stages worldwide. She’s experienced #1 hits, multi-platinum albums, industry accolades, won Grammys and other awards, and felt the love of press and fans. And now, she’s ready to show the world another side of Kelly Rowland with the release of Simply Deep, her debut solo album, on Music World Music/Columbia Records.

Featuring songs written by Steve Kipner, Billy Mann, Solange Knowles, and Kelly Rowland and guest appearances from Nelly and Joe Budden; produced by Rich Harrison (Amerie) Robert Smith, Damon Elliott, and Rob Fusari; executive-produced by Matthew Knowles of Music World Music, Simply Deep is an exhilarating glimpse into Kelly’s heart and soul. Which was exactly her desire. “I wanted people to be able to see me as me, not just as that girl from Destiny’s Child,” Kelly says. “I wanted them to see someone who has gone through a lot of real life experiences and is so happy and so blessed. I wanted people to really see a side of me that they may not know.” To reach that goal Kelly decided to go for her solo sound in a remarkably fresh and unexpected way. Simply Deep contains stinging electric guitars and gentle acoustic six-strings, atmospheric synths and turntable scratches.

Her thoughtful lyrics tackle everything from God to love towhatever lies in between while her musical joints will make you nod your head to the groove. There’s rock ‘n’ roll, a confessional singer/song writer vibe, sultry R&B and an edgy undercurrent. Simply put, Simply Deep is not what you might expect from a member of Destiny’s Child. Which was,according to Kelly, the point: “We wanted our solo albums (each member of DC is working on individual projects) to be different from Destiny’s Child so that people wouldn’t compare them to the group’s work. The albums are an opportunity for people to get to know our personalities. In my case, I’m sure that most of my fans didn’t realize how much I have always loved rock. In fact when I first went into the studio and told the producers I wanted a mixture of Sade with really edgy rock, they looked at me like I was crazy! And honestly, about halfway through the recording process even I was wondering if you could mix off those influences together. But it all worked out wonderfully.” Proof of which can be heard on the single “Stole.” Written and produced by Dane Deviller, Sean Hosein and Steve Kipner, “Stole” sets the tone for Simply Deep by being emotional, evocative, soulful and a typical in its subject matter and sound. A cautionary tale about life and its consequences, “Stole” affected Kelly the first time she heard it .”I loved the lyrics and the melody,” she says. “It’s such a passionate song.”

Equally passionate is “Heaven,” co-written and produced by Alonzo Jackson, who also plays drums, bass and guitar on the track. The sexy ballad, one of several co-written by Kelly, draws its inspiration from real life. “I’d never been in love and then I met someone and he made me feel like heaven,” she confesses. “This song is an expression of those feelings.” Love is also in the air on “Dilemma,” a duet with superstar rapper Nelly. The infectious track, which burned up the radio this summer and stayed at #1 for nearly two months, takes Patti LaBelle’s hit “Love, Need and Want You,” to a funky new level, because as Kelly laughs knowingly, “we put our own stink on it.” During the video shoot, Kelly met Patti LaBelle and was thrilled when the legendary diva praised Kelly’s rendition of her hit. “I started crying,” Kelly admits, “because there’s nothing like hearing that the artist who originally did the song likes your version.” The album’s title track, “Simply Deep,” was written for Kelly by Solange Knowles, the younger sister of Kelly’s Destiny’s Child co-star, Beyonc? Solange is featured as a singer on the track and arranged the vocals. “The song is amazing!,” Kelly exclaims. “Solange is so talented and she’s so professional in the studio and the sessions were so much fun and so calm. Honestly, I thought it would be weird to work with her–because she’s like my little sister–but it was magic.” Recording her album gave Kelly a chance to shine on her own as a vocalist while exploring other facets of her talent.

In addition to arranging the vocals on several tracks, Kelly co-wrote three songs–“(Love Lives In) Strange Places,” “Heaven,” and “Make U Wanna Stay”–for the album. “I love that Beyonc? writes,” Kelly says, “and it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. When Destiny’s Child would be in the studio, I’d ask her questions.She really encouraged me and told me I could do it. I was nervous but when I was working on my album I collaborated with the other writers and they really gave me the courage and tools to put my thought on paper.”

Yet another creative outlet for Kelly is acting. She made an appearance on the sit- com “The Hughleys” and will soon make her big screen debut as “Lori” in the horror film “Freddy vs. Jason.” “Acting is great!,” Kelly enthuses. “It’s wonderful to have this opportunity. It’s a dream cometrue.” Kelly has been working to pursue her dreams since she was a little girl in Atlanta, Georgia. By the age of 4, inspired by her love of Whitney Houston, Kelly was already telling her mother that she wanted to sing. “I used to drive my mommy up the wall trying to listen out for Whitney!” Kelly laughs. “I remember getting her first album it as the first record I ever owned. I played it every day.” Kelly began singing in church though she was so young she had to stand on a chair to reach the mike. The experience of performing changed her life forever. “When I was singing I was in my own world, and everyone was looking at me,” she remembers. “I was so happy and I thought “Oh, I like this.” Kelly’s love for music blossomed after her family relocated to Houston where she became friends with Beyonc?Knowles. The two gifted teens started singing together in and, in the mid 1990s, formed Destiny’s Child. The group released its first smash single, “No, No, No” in November 1997 with the first platinum album, Destiny’s Child, following in February 1998. Destiny’s Child’s follow-up effort, 1999’s The Writing’s On the Wall was certified 8x RIAA platinum in the United States and went on to sell more than 10 million copies worldwide. The success of that album was matched when Destiny’s Child dropped the multi-platinum worldwide smash Survivor in 2001.

Ask Kelly if she’s pleased with her new album and she beams. “I rememberhow happy I was when we finished The Writing’s On The Wall and Survivor because each song was so great. I wanted to recapture that feeling when I made my own record and when I sat back and listened to the finished album,I felt so blessed thought, ‘Gosh, God is good’ because I was allowed to see my vision through and it all worked out so well. Yes, I’m very happy. “Simply Deep is about the full range of life and love in all its pain and joy and happiness. In it, Kelly Rowland communicates the depth and passion of her experience, sharing it all with her fans.

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Madison Avenue

Every now and again you hear a club track that just screams “crossover hit”; a track that might have been made for the dancefloor with its roots firmly in the underground, but one listen and you know it’s a tune that will prove irresistible across a much wider audience. Now, to that illustrious list, you can add Madison Avenue’s debut single, “Don’t Call Me Baby,” originally released on Vicious Vinyl, Australia’s longest running and most successful independent dance label, who released the single on the house off-shoot label Vicious Grooves. This insanely addictive vocal disco-house cut–complete with a remix from New York City’s men of the moment, the Dronez (Eric Morillo, Jose Nuņez and Harry ‘Choo Choo’ Romero)–is set to become the track that brings “downunder” dance music to the attention of the rest of the world. In fact, shortly after its release in the United States, the track shot its way into the Top 10 of Billboard’s Dance Maxi-Single Sales and Dance Single Club Play charts as well as respectably cracking into the Billboard Hot 100.

Madison Avenue is comprised of Melbourne DJ and producer Andy Van and Cheyne Coates. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is Andy’s project, with Cheyne merely along to add some vocals and a pretty face. She may be Madison Avenue’s singer, but the group is a true collaboration, with Cheyne involved in every aspect of production as well as co-writing the vocals with Andy Van and Duane Morrison.

Andy has long been one of the pioneers of Australia’s small but perfectly formed dance music scene. One of the co-owners of Vicious Vinyl, he’s also been one of the country’s leading DJs since the earliest days of house, having played to over a million people over the last 12 years both through his residencies (he’s been resident DJ at many of Melbourne’s most successful and longest-running club nights) and innumerable one-off appearances all around the country. Along the way he’s been responsible for many high profile remixes, including Traveller & In Motion’s “Believe” (which rated a 5 out of 5 “dancing men” in Mixmag Update), Pendulum’s “Coma” (which won an ARIA award, the Australian equivalent of a Grammy), and “Comma” by Son of a Cheeky Boy (aka Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim), not to mention more mainstream tracks from the likes of Dead or Alive. But it’s as a producer that he’s made his strongest mark, working with various collaborators in a wide range of musical styles under different names: Key South, Bubbleman, Astral Project, Discotheque and, most notably, Blackout, whose “Gotta Have Hope” hit the Top 5 in dance charts around the world.

Now Madison Avenue looks set to eclipse them all with the release of Polyester Embassy, the duo’s debut album. Whichever hat Andy’s wearing–label boss, DJ, remixer, producer–he’s guaranteed to rock the house. And, while she may not have Andy’s high profile in Australia, Cheyne Coates is also a stalwart of the Melbourne club scene. A trained dancer for many years, she’s performed in and choreographed many a dance performance and catwalk show over the years whilst also honing her talent as a producer. And, while Cheyne has long been a performer, her primary interest has always lain behind the scenes, hence her strong interest in and deep knowledge of music production. Away from music Cheyne is a passionate defender of animal rights who has always donated a substantial proportion of her personal income to various wildlife charities.

For too long the rest of the world has slept on the depth of dance music talent Down Under. Now Madison Avenue–initially via the undeniable “Don’t Call Me Baby” and then with Polyester Embassy–is set to shake everyone up and cause dancefloor mayhem from Melbourne to Manchester, from Miami to Munich. It’s that good.

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Chad Kroeger – Vocals, Guitar
Ryan Peake – Guitar, Vocals
Mike Kroeger – Bass
Ryan Vikedal – Drums

Welcome to a success story built on the road, on the radio, and on one band’s commitment to, above all things, great rock songs. Nickelback exploded across the globe with their sophomore album, Silver Side Up. The follow-up to their Gold-selling 2000 debut The State, Silver Side Up was an instant smash upon release in Sept 2001, going on to sell over nine million copies to date worldwide. The album achieved Gold, Platinum, or multi-Platinum status in the U.S. (5x Platinum), UK (3x platinum) the band’s native Canada (8x platinum), Australia (2x Platinum), Germany (Platinum), Holland (Platinum), and ten other territories worldwide. Having gained fans steadily on The State through relentless touring and rock radio play, the band’s rise to success was catapulted by Silver Side Up’s unstoppable radio anthem, “How You Remind Me”. The song that went on to rack up four Grammy Award nominations, four Billboard Awards, four Juno awards, and countless radio accreditations. All important statistics, but the stats are best summed up by the following: “How You Remind Me” was the #1 Most Played Song of 2002, across all formats, according to Billboard Monitor. The band shot into rare air, and stayed there, when two #1 Rock singles followed, “Too Bad” and “Never Again”, each commanding audience numbers in the millions. When the dust settled, Nickelback had made another stunning achievement: the band was named #1 Most Played Rock Artist of 2002 Across All Radio Formats.

Now in 2003, the Vancouver-based ensemble of Chad Kroeger – singer/guitarist and main songwriter, Ryan Peake – guitarist, Mike Kroeger – bassist, and Ryan Vikedal – drummer are back with their most accomplished effort to date, the new album The Long Road. At once accessible and tuneful, accomplished and honest, aggressive and emotional, The Long Road raises the stakes while realizing the potential of these young hitmakers. “We’ve pushed things further in every way possible. We’re very proud of this album”, frontman Chad Kroeger says of the release. “Fans of real rock music are in for a surprise.”

From the album’s dynamic lead single “Someday” to the strapping guitar riffs of “Throw Yourself Away” to the vibrant and energetic “Do This Anymore” and the bare emotion of “Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good,” The Long Road sees Nickelback focusing its signature melodic crunch like never before. The album is also highlighted by a marked lyrical growth, more often tackling universal themes rather than simply going toe-to-toe with personal demons. “The album is less directed at me and things I’ve gone through,” lead singer and guitarist Chad Kroeger, elaborates. “Instead of being about my own life, it’s about experiences that everyone can relate to and hopefully learn something from.”

On The Long Road, a key component in the evolution of the music was the band’s decision to handle production chores all on their own for the first time. The band knew this would be a challenge, but had the confidence within them to take on the task. The Long Road marks the first time in Nickelback’s career that the band has crafted an entire album without any outside influence.

“It was great that the four of us had to be our own referees and work together to make the record we really wanted to make,” Chad Kroeger says of the recording sessions, which took place at Greenhouse studios and Chad’s home studio both in Vancouver. “There was no one looking over our shoulder and we never felt inhibited. We wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

“I think we all feel like we’ve already captured the brass ring and accomplished more than we could have ever hoped for when we were first starting out,” Chad Kroeger concludes. “We know we’ve made a great rock record. Now we’re just waiting to see how people are going to cast their votes.” Nickelback bassist Mike Kroeger adds, “We’re just doing what we do the best way we know how. We don’t concern ourselves with what everyone else is doing. We’re just interested in making rock-solid and honest Nickelback records.”

Set for release on September 23rd, The Long Road will be supported by a US tour in the Fall. The album’s first single “Someday” impacted Rock and Modern Rock radio on July 29, and was #1 Most Added at all formats, with over 150 stations adding the song to rotation. A video for “Someday”, shot by acclaimed director Nigel Dick, begins airing in early September.

The craft of rock music, as interpreted by Nickelback, is honed even finer on The Long Road. Nickelback have found a home among millions of fans around the globe through their music, and for the band and their fans, the road continues on.

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Macy Gray

There are voices. And then there are voices: sultry, sexy voices that stay with you long after the song has ended. Macy Gray has one of those voices–undoubtedly one of the most charismatic and utterly unique artists to hit the popular music scene in recent memory.

The Trouble With Being Myself (Epic Records) is a cinematic collection of short stories set to a driving, pulsating beat. Every line, every hook, every chorus and bridge are all straight from the heart of a woman who is unafraid of life’s challenges. There are love stories here. Hate stories too. There are uplifting moments that mark how precious life really is. And as always, there are Macy’s humorous takes on the things that make it hard to keep one’s sanity in a mixed-up crazy world.

The opening track, “When I See You,” is a bright ray of sunshine layered into music. The good-natured, fun-loving lyrics are about the joy of convincing a man of your love for him. With light piano accompaniment, Macy empties her heart on wax. And anyone who has ever been in love can instantly relate to the emotions poured into this song.

The powerful love songs don’t stop there–the opening track is actually just the beginning. On “She Ain’t Right For You,” Macy stands on the outside looking in–watching the man she loves waste his time with another woman. This track, one of the album’s highlights, showcases facets of Macy’s powerful pipes that have never been heard before.

Similarly, “She Don’t Write Songs About You,” is for a lover who doesn’t understand how much he is loved and by whom. “She’s always cooking and studying books,” says Macy in a whispered wail. “But I’m the one who writes songs about you.” The plucky and spare guitar snaps lend a live, fresh, unpolished quality to the song, making it an instant Macy Gray classic.

“Happiness,” a bright and snappy mid-tempo track, is the musical embodiment of that passion. “Happiness” is an authentic groove, the kind of song you throw in to get through a day of housework, or a quiet dinner for two. On the track, produced by Macy and Darryl Swan, Macy talks about the little things we take for granted that make us happy every day.

Loving what we have and appreciating our blessing has always been a seminal part of the Macy Gray experience. And on The Trouble With Being Myself, that sentiment is here in force. On “Screamin,” and “Speechless,” aptly named tracks that capture both ideas perfectly, she explains why love is so important for survival. And in this era, her lyrics about loving family and oneself ring true.

Macy Gray has always been able to tap into the endearing and emotional side of being in love. But she has always had a knack for delivering an acerbic wit and biting style. She brings the ruckus once again with tracks like the hard-edged “My Fondest Childhood Memories,” a dark and twisted collection of macabre experiences from a difficult childhood. At first listen, it sounds like a truly happy lark on childhood–a closer listen yields the sinister thoughts of a troubled mind. On “Jesus For A Day,” her voice rings clear as a bell–layered expertly by Macy and Dallas Austin over a smoothed out groove. As the keys and strings match her note for note, Macy spins out a morality tale, wondering how things would change if she could affect the world for just one day.

“Come Together,” with its fine array of horns and strings, is a perfect example of what makes Macy Gray the international superstar that she is. She makes genres like hip-hop, jazz, R&B, soul and rock come together. She makes music lovers of all ages, colors and creeds come together.

Macy earned out-of-the-box critical acclaim with her Epic Records debut, On How Life Is, and the album quickly became a word-of-mouth hit for pop, rock and soul aficionados worldwide.

With hit singles like, “I Try,” and “Why Didn’t You Call Me,” Macy established herself as a force to be reckoned with, garnering Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocals in 1999. By the end of the following year, On How Life Is was certified quadruple platinum.

On every track from The Trouble With Being Myself, she brings herself together–from every growl to every high note–this album is 100% Macy Gray. And from one listen you’ll know, no matter what she sings to us, the trouble with Macy Gray is no trouble at all.

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Michael Bolton

One of the music industry’s most successful singer/songwriters, Michael Bolton has also gained recognition as an author and human rights activist. Most recently, he authored his first children’s book (The Secret Of The Lost Kingdom, published by Hyperion/Disney Press in the fall of 1997) and recorded “Go The Distance” — the theme song for the Disney animated film, Hercules. Michael brings the same passion, devotion, and commitment to his other major projects that have made him — with sales of more than 40 million albums — one of the world’s most popular singers.

His new album of pop songs, All That Matters, appeared in the fall of 1997, and an album of opera arias, My Secret Passion, was released in 1998 (SK 63077).

In 1993, Michael established the Michael Bolton Foundation, which provides assistance, through local and national charities and “safe house” shelters, to children and women at risk from poverty, as well as from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. He’s the honorary chairman of the National Committee To Prevent Child Abuse and National Chairman for This Close For Cancer Research. In 1994, he received the prestigious Lewis Hine Award from the National Child Labor Committee. In 1995, he was named a Hendon Fellow at Yale University. In January 1996, Michael became the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr./C.O.R.E. Award. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for One-To-One, a youth mentoring program and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

Michael’s predilection for good works dovetailed with his developing love of opera recently when he joined Luciano Pavarotti on stage in Modena, Italy, at the “Luciano & Friends Together For The Children of Bosnia” benefit concert. “The experience was indescribable,” he remembers.

“There’s something incredibly fulfilling in singing beautiful classical music.”

Michael Bolton, arguably America’s premier pop singer and songwriter, grew up idolizing such pioneers of R&B as Ray Charles and Otis Redding.

Blessed with an incomparable voice and a keen songwriting ability, he began hitting radio playlists in 1983 with “Fool’s Game,” from his self-titled Columbia Records album debut. After the release of The Hunger (1987), fans and critics began to take notice of this fast-emerging talent, but it was 1989’s multi-platinum Soul Provider, with hit singles like the Grammy-winning “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” (which has been played more than four million times on the radio) and the title track, that catapulted Michael to the upper echelon of pop music luminaries.

With the release of #1 Time, Love & Tenderness in 1991, Michael Bolton became an international superstar. The album sold more than 11 million copies worldwide and earned him a second Best Pop Vocal, Male, Grammy for the #1 Pop/AC smash “When A Man Loves A Woman.” He also earned two American Music Awards, including Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Male Album, and was named Best Pop Male Vocalist at the New York Music Awards.

Michael followed Time, Love & Tenderness with the #1 Timeless (The Classics), a collection of the singer’s best-loved R&B and pop standards.

Then, in 1993, came the multi-platinum The One Thing, which included the multi-platinum single, “Said I Loved You… But I Lied.”

Having begun his career as a songwriter, it’s no surprise that Bolton’s songs have been recorded by an astonishing array of artists. Michael has written songs for Barbra Streisand (“We’re Not Making Love Anymore”); KISS (“Forever”); Joe Cocker (“Living Without Your Love”); Kenny Rogers (“Just The Thought Of Losing You”); Cher (“I Found Someone”); and Kenny G and Peabo Bryson (the 1993 BMI Pop Award-winning “By The Time This Night Is Over”). Other noted artists, such as Patti LaBelle, the Pointer Sisters, Gregg Allman, Lee Greenwood and Conway Twitty have also covered Bolton songs. Michael is among the scant handful of songwriters to have collaborated with Bob Dylan; their song “Steel Bars” is a highlight of both Time, Love & Tenderness and Bolton’s Greatest Hits album.

The music industry honored Bolton’s songwriting with the 1995 Hitmaker’s Award, from the National Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and the prestigious “Million Performance Song Award” five times. (A “million performance” song is one which has received at least 50,000 hours — more than 5.7 years! — of airplay.)

“Between writing, performing, recording, and everything else, far and away, performing before my audience is the best,” Michael says. From 1991 through 1995, Michael embarked on a series of international marathon concert tours including the 1991-1992 Time, Love & Tenderness Tour and the 1994-1995 The One Thing Tour. He has appeared at hundreds of concerts and performed for millions of fans; Michael’s many memorable concert experiences included several visits to the White House at the invitation of President Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Despite his full plate of activities, Michael wouldn’t have it any other way: “I’m working on enjoying each moment a bit more. It feels like it’s always time to move onward and upward; at the same time, that means moving deeper into the gift of music. That will always take me where I want to go.”

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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s career is truly the stuff of legend. Since she began her career, Mariah has since become the best-selling female performer of all time, with an incredible 15 #1 singles and two Grammy Awards. Along the way she became the only artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s, and, with “Heartbreaker,” she pushed ahead of the Beatles as the artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart.

Possessing a spectacular seven-octave range, Mariah has proven that she is equally at home with sweeping ballads and pop, often incorporating elements of dance and hip-hop into the mix. Perhaps even more impressive, she composes all of her own material.

Born in Long Island, NY, as the daughter of a former opera singer and vocal coach — and named after the song “They Call the Wind Mariah” from the popular Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon. Mariah began singing at the age of four, and was writing her own songs by the time she was attending Oldfield Middle School. She moved to New York City, the day after graduating from high school. Honing her songwriting skills and lending her vocals to several local acts, she first garnered industry attention when singing backup for Brenda K. Starr, who gave Mariah’s demo tape to Sony Music Entertainment chief Tommy Mottola at a party. As legend has it, Mottola played the demo on his ride home and ordered his driver to immediately return to the party so that he could meet the young singer. Soon afterwards, Mottola signed Mariah to a Columbia Records contract.

Mariah’s self-titled Columbia debut, released in 1990, spawned an extraordinary four #1 singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” and led to Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. The following year’s album, Emotions, was another smash, with the title track scoring her fifth consecutive #1 single and two other titles ­ “Can’t Let Go” and “Make It Happen” reaching the Top Five. Her next release, 1992’s MTV Unplugged EP, scored another #1 with her cover of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.”

Music Box (1993) became her biggest seller to date, with “Dreamlover” and “Hero” again topping the charts, and was followed by 1994’s Merry Christmas, which contained another hit with “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Daydream (1995) contained the club-friendly “Fantasy,” which debuted at #1 ­ making Mariah the second artist in history, and the first female performer, to accomplish that feat. The follow-up single, “One Sweet Day” (recorded with Boyz II Men), followed suit and stayed at the top of the charts for a record 16 weeks.

Butterfly (1997) revealed an even greater hip-hop flavor than its predecessor, scoring hits with “Honey” and “My All.” The following year witnessed the release of greatest hits collection #1’s, which included a new song, “When You Believe” (from the film The Prince of Egypt), a duet with Whitney Houston which paired the two most successful female recording artists in pop history. Rainbow, with its chart-topping tune “Heartbreaker,” followed in 1999.

Mariah has garnered many accolades throughout her career including 2 Grammy Awards, 8 American Music Awards, Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade” Award and the World Music Award for “World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium” to name a few. Mariah’s many accomplishments and unprecedented career success stand as a testament to her creativity and talent. That they represent only the beginning is all the more impressive.

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Enrique Martin Morales

Enrique Martin Morales, 24 December 1971, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Formerly a member of the perennially youthful boy band, Menudo, Ricky Martin has established himself as one of the leading Latin pop stars of the 90s. By the end of the decade he had also enjoyed crossover success on the back of the chart-topping English language single, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”. Martin first began acting and singing in grade school, and when he was 10 gained an audition with Latin teen-idols Menudo. Martin eventually joined Menudo in 1984, and continued to record and tour with them until the late 80s (to ensure the band’s youthful image, members were required to leave when they reached the age of 16). Martin spent a short period in New York before moving to Mexico, where he gained a regular slot in the Mexican soap opera Alcanzar Una Estrella II. His recording career also took off when his self-titled debut and Me Amaras achieved gold status in several countries. Martin moved to Los Angeles in 1994, and broke into the North American television market playing singing bartender Miguel Morez in the long-running soap opera General Hospital.
His third Spanish-language album, 1995’s A Medio Vivir (produced by fellow Menudo veteran Robi Rosa), broadened his fanbase by introducing rock stylings into the Latin mix, and generated the international hit single, “Maria”. Martin also performed “No Importa La Distancia” for the Spanish language version of Walt Disney’s Hercules, and landed the role of Marius in the Broadway production of Les Mis?ables. Vuelve was released in February 1998, and debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Latin chart. The title track topped the Latin singles chart for four weeks, while “La Copa De La Vida”, the official song of the soccer World Cup, was also highly successful when released as a single, reaching number 1 in several countries. Martin won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance, and his sensational performance at February’s ceremony caused a dramatic surge in sales of Vuelve.

All of a sudden Martin’s media-friendly face was everywhere, and he was hyped as the leading figure in a new wave of Latin pop stars including Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, Chris Perez and Luis Miguel. Exploiting the hype to the full Martin released the lively “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, which reached number 1 in the US Hot 100 in May 1999, and stayed at the top for five weeks. In the process, it became Columbia Records’ biggest-selling number 1 single of all time. His self-titled English language debut, produced by Rosa and Desmond Child, entered the US album chart at number 1 at the end of the month, although it was soon knocked off the top by the Backstreet Boys’ Millennium. In July, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” entered the UK singles chart at number 1. Martin’s crucial follow-up single, “She’s All I Ever Had”, climbed to US number 2 in September. Another sparkling transatlantic hit single, “She Bangs”, served as an effective launch pad for the excellent Sound Loaded. After a lengthy time out of the hot spotlight Martin returned, a little older and a little wiser with Las Almas Del Silencio in 2003.

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REO Speedwagon

It’s 2003, and the REO touring machine is tuned up, tricked out, and ready to roll. The band is in top form and in peak mind set, as they prepare to take the country by storm this summer.

“REO and Styx have rewritten the book on how bands coexist as headliners. We raise the bar on each other every night, and we are better for it. Now, this year we are taking it up to a whole new level”, says singer Kevin Cronin. And he is right.

Since the release of REO Speedwagon’s first record in 1971, the band that started out in a rented Chevy station wagon playing bars across America, has produced 17 critically acclaimed albums, scored 13 top 40 singles (including two Billboard #1’s) and sold over 40 million records. From their electrifying performance at the historic “Live Aid” concert, to President Clinton’s 1996 Inaugural Ball…From appearances on the Howard Stern Show, Politically Incorrect with Bill Mahr, VH-1’s Rock’n Roll Jeopardy, and The Today Show, to the acclaimed REO Speedwagon: Behind The Music, the band has plenty of stories to tell.

JOURNEY, STYX, and REO SPEEDWAGON are joining forces to create the Must See concert event of this summer. Three full headline sets, one mammoth production, non-stop hit songs, played with the incredible, inexhaustible energy of these three great bands.

True, there was a time when these rockers were considered to be fierce rivals, and that competitive spirit still exists, but in the current atmosphere of friendship and mutual respect. These guys drive one another, they take each other to the edge and feed off each other’s positive energy every night. If you want to see all three of these bands pushed to their absolute, ultimate best, the 2003 Main Event Tour is your chance.

“Here in America we are free to let loose, express ourselves. We all need to celebrate our freedom. Never take it for granted”, says Cronin.

With the world in such a turbulent, unpredictable place, it is reassuring to know that these three powerhouse rock bands have put their rivalries in the past, realizing that together their strength is unstoppable.

“We refuse to be held hostage. Our mission on this tour is to take people away, escape with us for a few hours. We want to give our audience a chance to get together with their friends, sing along with their favorite songs, dance and just have a good time. We all need it now, more than ever.”…Right again guys.

Now then, how has REO Speedwagon retained its indomitable spirit? Here is the story in a nutshell…

The current chapter of the REO story began when lead singer/songwriter Kevin Cronin, keyboardist and founding member Neal Doughty and bass guitarist Bruce Hall joined forces with former Ted Nugent lead guitarist Dave Amato and studio drummer Bryan Hitt to form the new and improved REO Speedwagon.

REO had been on a nonstop touring and recording schedule since 1971. There have been no farewell tours and no reunion tours. “We started out playing local bars in Champaign, Illinois and worked our way up from there” says Doughty. “We did it the old fashioned way and as a result we have a following which is still growing to this day.”

True. When you look around the audience at a REO Speedwagon concert these days, you see people who have been with the band since the early days, singing and dancing along with high school and college age fans. “It blows us away”, says Hall “we love the fact that our music brings so many different people together.”

When original guitarist Gary Richrath and drummer Alan Gratzer left the band in the late 1980’s, the band made the biggest decision of its career. “We knew it would be a huge challenge”, says Cronin, “but everywhere we went, people kept telling us ‘Please keep on going, don’t stop.’ That made us realize that our music meant a lot to people and gave us the strength we needed to carry on.”

After a run of hit records and sold out tours which began with the release of “Live, You Get What You Play For” in 1977, continued with 1978’s “You Can Tuna Piano But You Can’t Tune A Fish”, the monumental 10 million seller “Hi Infidelity” in 1981 and culminating in 1985 with the number one single “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, it was time for the REO team to regroup and redefine itself.

It wasn’t easy for a band which had grown accustomed to playing stadiums and arenas all over the world. “We went back to our touring roots in the Midwest and started the rebuilding process in friendly territory”, says Doughty. “It took a while, but little by little the fans began to accept that Dave and Bryan were here to stay.” The band’s spirit had been rekindled and their sound was as strong as ever. “I discovered a new appreciation for our audiences and our music…it was fun again,” says Cronin. It showed. The word began to spread and attendance at REO shows began to grow.

Sold out co-headline amphitheater tours with Fleetwood Mac and Pat Benatar in 1996 and Foreigner and Peter Frampton in 1997 solidified the resurgence in REO’s nationwide popularity, and a stadium tour of South America showcased the band in front of tens of thousands of new international fans.

In 1996 the band released its fourteenth studio album, “Building The Bridge”. The CD has been embraced as one of REO’s strongest ever by fans all around the country, including one very special resident of our nation’s capital. President Clinton adopted the title song as his campaign theme that year and invited the band to perform along side him at various stops on the campaign trail, as well as at his Inaugural Ball.

“We started out as a bar band, playing as fast and loud as we could”, says Hall. “When KC played us his demo of ‘Keep On Loving You’ in 1980 we thought he was kidding…but one day Richrath cranked up his Marshall amps, and the rest is power ballad history,” says Doughty. In 1998, with that thought in mind, the band, along with A&R guru John Kalodner and hit producer Peter Asher, set off to create another addition to REO’s prolific catalog.

Simply entitled “The Ballads”, this CD contains eleven of the group’s most popular love songs including “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, “Keep On Loving You” and “Time For Me To Fly” along with two newly recorded Cronin originals, the lush and powerful “Just For You”, and the folk tinged “Till The Rivers Run Dry”. “Our band has two sides”, says Dave Amato, “we rock hard in concert and we released a Ballads CD which is for kicking back with that special person.”

In the spring of 2000, after thirty years as arch rivals, REO and Styx were set to co-headline a national tour. “It hit me on the first night of the tour in Phoenix. I looked out from the stage during our set and saw two girls wearing Styx t-shirts, dancing and singing along with every word I sang. Then we met a guy at a truck stop in Georgia who explained that while he had seen each band in the past, REO and Styx playing together was an event that made his two hundred mile road trip to Atlanta a no brainer. We were all having big fun, the audiences were huge, everyone singing and dancing together, REO fans digging Styx and Styx fans rocking with REO. We had become one big band!” says Cronin in the “Arch Allies” CD liner notes.

After the 10 month long, hugely successful “Arch Allies” tour, the band felt the need to reconnect with the “home front”. “We love to play, but we need to keep our families as our top priority, with the band as a very, very close second.”, says father of two young children, Bryan (Hitman) Hitt.

But even though 2001 was meant to be an “off year”, REO kept busy. “We were waiting for the right time to do Behind The Music, and this was it. VH-1 did a great job of capturing the band’s personality, spirit and history”, says Neal. Kevin appeared as a guest on Politically Incorrect, VH-1’s Rockn’Roll Jeopardy and The Howard Stern Show. The band released “Plus”, a CD and DVD which contains REO’s entire performance from the “Arch Allies” set, plus four exclusive cuts, extended interviews with Neal and Kevin and the infamous REO Home Game.

The boys did agree to go out on the road for a few concert dates in 2001, which turned into a 65 city tour! “How did that happen”, wonders Dave, “Not that I’m complaining. I don’t have any kids so I want to get out and rock.”

One of those dates was September 13, 2001 in Salt Lake City. “With the horror of September 11 so fresh in our minds, we were not sure if we could play a show a mere two days later”, says Kevin. “The promoter at the Utah State Fair said they wanted us to come, so we found an old bus and headed north.”, says Neal, “It made me feel better to know that our spirit, as well as the spirit of the American people, is still strong”.

“The response of REO audiences is always fierce, but since the 9-11 attacks there is a different intensity level. Our songs just seem to fit right in with the attitude that we need as Americans.”, says Cronin. With that in mind REO joined its Arch Allies, Styx, as well as Journey, Lynard Skynard, Bad Company and others, for “Rock to the Rescue”, back to back concerts in Atlanta and Dallas, on October 21 and 22. Drew Carey hosted the events. On November 12, 2001 a check for Five Hundred Thousand Dollars was presented to the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Memorial Fund.

At the close of another busy “off year” in 2002, (which evolved into an eighty date tour), the Arch Allies reconvened in October for an encore of the prior year’s benefit concert. The shows moved to The Meadowlands in Jersey, and the Gund Arena in Cleveland, and The Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame Music Education Fund became the co-beneficiary.

Many of the artists involved in this event came together to create “A Classic Rock Christmas”, a CD collection of original, as well as traditional Christmas songs. REO’s contribution was “I Believe In Santa Claus”, co-written by Kevin and Bruce. The proceeds once again went to our “Rock to the Rescue” fund.

“A lot has happened since those days in the old Chevy station wagon.”, says Kevin, “We are thankful for every moment, and we thank you for your continuing support of our music and our spirit.”

Lead Singer and principle songwriter. He joined the group in 1972 in time for the band’s second album, REO/TWO A year later, he left to pursue a solo career. Cronin returned to the fold in time for 1977’s Live: You Get What You Play For, the band’s first million-selling album.

Keyboard player and founding member. A versatile musician, Doughty plays the organ as well as piano and synthesizers.

Bass player extraordinaire. He joined REO in 1976 when he was playing in a bar band in Champaign, IL, the same musical scene that spawned REO Speedwagon.

The man who keeps the beat. He joined REO in 1990 after enjoying success with Wang Chung.

Lead Guitarist. He joined REO in 1989 after playing with Ted Nugent and Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora.

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It is hard to believe that it’s been more than twenty-five years since For You, Prince’s first album, was released. Not only because both the world and its musical landscape have altered so much in that quarter century, but because so many of those changes were anticipated and initiated by this multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer, songwriter, Oscar-winning composer, and multi-Grammy-winning artist.
And those accolades are not likely to stop in 2004, which is already shaping up to be a monumental year for Prince who opened the 46th Annual Grammy ceremony with a stunning show-stopping duet with Beyonc¨¦, and earned the ultimate pop music honor as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2004. He’s embarked on an historic and extensive World Tour (which kicked off March 29) and is participating in a number of major events surrounding the 20th anniversary of the release of his classic music film (and watershed album), Purple Rain.

But 2004 is not merely a period of mid-career retrospection for Prince. It’s also time to get down and party with some of the sharpest and savviest music the man has ever made. His new studio album, Musicology, is pure unadulterated Prince: pumping and grinding funk mixed with his patented nexus of infectious pop melody, acerbic political consciousness, and the unstoppable rhythms of life.

With Musicology, Prince is back to show everybody just how it’s done: the seamless blend of sweet soul sounds, pulsing post-modern dance grooves, and hard rock riffs filtered through the uncanny and unerring instincts of the greatest one-man band in pop music history. Musicology is, in the main, “produced, arranged, composed and per4med by Prince,” who contributes nearly all of the album’s instruments and voices.

Right off the bat, on the album’s title track, Prince lays out a 21st century manifesto as potent as the apocalyptic partying of “1999” while paying homage to a who’s who of old school funkmasters including Doug E. Fresh, Earth, Wind & Fire and James Brown himself. (In fact, Maceo Parker, one of JB’s most prodigious erstwhile sidemen, can be heard blowing his fabled horn on several of Musicology’s tracks.)

And while much of Musicology is devoted to the sublime and sweaty art of partying Prince-style, there is also the deep slow groove of tracks like “Call My Name,” a tour-de-force recalling vintage Prince jams.

“I am really an artist and musician at heart, that’s what I do,” Prince says. “Musicology has no boundaries or formats. It is a long overdue to return to the art and craft of music – that’s what this album is about. School’s in session!”

His most recent DVD, Prince: Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas, released last December, debuted at the top of the Billboard charts and is poised to be one of NPG Music Club/Hip-O Records most successful DVDs. Live¡­ shows Prince’s sophisticated musical erudition and his ability to move a crowd to both tears and laughter, if only because he transformed Led Zeppelin’s hard hitting anthem, “Whole Lotta Love” into a funky masterpiece, proving once again that that he is not only one of the greatest talents of last quarter century, but also one of the most ingenious.

During the ’80s, Prince emerged as the musical prophet of the era, releasing a series of ground-breaking albums that both defined and captured the spirit of the times. His genre-bending songs sent shock waves through the music industry that are still reverberating today.

An extraordinarily successful and independent creative force, he grafted together pop, funk, rock, soul and a dash of folk to create an entirely new entity that would propel him to the top of the charts, where he remained for a mind-boggling 24 weeks, with 1984’s Purple Rain.

With his early albums, Prince fused rock, soul, folk, and even jazz, into a breathtakingly original music entity. His subsequent albums pushed the boundaries of taste and imagination to new heights, even flirting with psychedelia, as he created his own personal brand of intricate and idiosyncratic music, selling more than 100 million copies of his albums along the way. While few artists have been able to rewrite the rules, Prince has always been a visionary first, a musician second. But that’s not to take anything away from his musical acumen.

When he was a child and his parents split up, his father left behind a piano. Prince began picking out TV theme songs without a single lesson. He expanded his musical universe teaching himself how to play guitar and bass, and, at the age of 18, recorded demos for what would be his first album. By the next year, he struck a lucrative deal with Warner Bros., which gave him unprecedented artistic freedom and a six-figure advance, allowing him to produce his own albums, making Prince the youngest producer in Warner’s history.

He toured relentlessly, penned songs and produced albums for other artists–giving the career of Scottish singer Sheena Easton new life when he composed her US Top Ten hit “Sugar Walls.” He also gave the Los Angeles girl group the Bangles a No.2 hit with “Manic Monday,” which he wrote under the pen name of Christopher, one of his many pseudonyms. The only reason “Monday” didn’t reach the top spot was that Prince was already there with “Kiss,” his third Top Ten record.

He helped transform Sheila E. from a backup percussionist into a headliner and produced an album for singer Mavis Staples, which took the gospel singer to new heights. During the late ’80s, Prince’s Paisley Park label was a hotbed of innovation and activity. Besides being a creative outlet for Prince, Sheila E., George Clinton, Mavis Staples and others were signed to the label, enabling Prince to work creatively with musicians he admired.

But the musician wasn’t entirely selfless. He had his own muse to serve, and Prince tirelessly recorded songs for himself that still lie slumbering in his prodigious vaults in Minneapolis. Of all of his remarkable accomplishments, perhaps the most seminal moment in Prince’s career was when he created and starred in “Purple Rain,” the poignant semi-autobiographical story of his own life, which also yielded his first Top Ten hit, “When Doves Cry,” taken from the soundtrack of the film.

Reaching that high water mark didn’t alter the musician’s output in the least. In fact after extricating himself from his relationship with Warner Bros., Prince experienced an exhilarating sense of freedom at his newfound autonomy that enabled him to release his own music in the manner he saw fit. Documenting his quest for higher meaning and self-actualization, Prince was now able to blaze even more profound trails without inhibitions. He continues to break new ground through his music in an effort to communicate truths about love and spirituality.

With countless numbers of dedicated fans in mind, Prince created the NPG Music Club ( so he could be in direct contact with those who both understand and appreciate his art. That very intimate relationship has provided a tremendous and fruitful synergy, which as pushed the musician to even greater heights of creativity. After joining (membership is $25 U.S.), fans are offered unlimited access to Prince’s revolutionary Internet site where they are able to view videos months prior to their release on DVD, as well as attend online listening parties, much like the one Prince held before the release of his Grammy-award nominated CD, N.E.W.S., allowing members to hear the entire CD before its official release. There is also the Reflection Room where people can listen to specially selected songs from Prince’s vast catalog.

Prince is fearless in his pursuit of artistic challenges. He is constantly experimenting with different sounds, textures and genres, and continues to surprise and delight audiences. On N.E.W.S., he took another unexpected turn, creating an album of pure luminous sound as he pays tribute to each of the points on the compass, calling on the talents of Renato Neto (piano & synthesizers), Rhonda Smith (acoustic and electric bass), John Blackwell (drums) and Eric Leeds (tenor & baritone sax). To everyone’s surprise there wasn’t a single vocal performance on the disc, yet Prince still managed to leave his indelible mark on the recording.

Never one to rest on his considerable laurels, Prince continues to write, produce, and perform with the rage and fire of an artist just starting out, and that alone is reason enough to celebrate him and the music itself.

The songs on Prince’s new album, Musicology, have tremendous depth, power, and range, creating an important new chapter in the Prince legend, a must-have for his fans around the globe.

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Soul Asylum

Soul Asylum, the quintessential American rock combo, is releasing Candy From A Stranger, the group’s third outing for Columbia Records. The new music is the next step the band’s ongoing transformation from scrappy garage band to postpunk indie heroes to purveyors of world-class rock & roll. Of course, Soul Asylum has always been a “rock band,” in the purest and truest sense. And though it hasn’t always been obvious, within the volume and raucous crunch of the band is the voice of the outlaw poet, the disenfranchised blue-collar worker, the frustrated adolescent aching to conquer, if not the world, at least his own demons. Candy From A Stranger expands the musical and lyrical vision of its predecessors; gleefully unaffected by the passing whims of pop-rock fashion, the album cuts into the very heart of rock & roll and finds that it’s still beating loud and hard and full of unstoppable passion.

Candy From A Stranger contains eleven songs, all penned by Dave Pirner-with the exceptions of “Blood Into Wine,” co-written by Dan Murphy and New Orleans singer/songwriter Elizabeth Herman, and “Lies Of Hate” which Pirner collaborated on with Sterling Campbell. Campbell – who joined the band as drummer for the Grave Dancers Union sessions and tour and continued on with Let Your Dim Light Shine – recorded with the group for Candy From A Stranger but has since left the fold on good terms.

Candy From A Stranger is flush with an easy cohesiveness (a lot of the tracks were recorded live with minimal overdubs), yet displays Soul Asylum’s continuing growth and evolution in lyrical and instrumental diversity: the slight sarcasm of “I Will Still Be Laughing” (the first single) asserts a stubborn declaration of independence; the rootsy wash of “Blood Into Wine” aches with frustration and misunderstanding, while the sassy “Draggin’ The Lake” (not an homage to Elvis Costello’s “Watching The Detectives”) anthemically begs the musical question, “Just how much shit can one man take?”

Candy From A Stranger was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami in late 1997, and Soul Asylum tapped Englishman Chris Kimsey to produce the collection of songs. Kimsey’s credits include producing and/or engineering albums by the Rolling Stones, Gipsy Kings, Peter Tosh and Killing Joke. The members of Soul Asylum hailed Kimsey’s extensive experience and unending “childlike enthusiasm” during the recording process as instrumental in achieving the fluid classic sound of Candy From A Stranger.

Soul Asylum’s enduring success is as much due to the group’s steadfast maturation as it is to a reputation for a clear sense of independence; few would disagree with the Village Voice’s assessment of once crowning them with “Best Live Band” honors in their prestigious year-end music awards. Dave Pirner, Dan Murphy, Karl Mueller played together in 1981, calling themselves Loud Fast Rules while rapidly becoming a steady draw at Minneapolis’ legendary 7th Street Entry. After redubbing the themselves Soul Asylum, the group cut its first two recordings – the Say What You Will EP and Made To Be Broken – with HÜsker DÜ’s Bob Mould as producer; despite a deceptively hardcore veneer, hints of the music that more accurately informed their sound – the broad, true sound of 70s FM AOR radio, the pop sensibilities of the Replacements and Big Star, and even the rebel acoustic folkisms of Bob Dylan – were already beginning to surface. Both While You Were Out and Hang Time were solidly embraced by college and underground radio, and Soul Asylum was by now a dedicated band of rock & roll road warriors with a steadily growing and increasingly enthusiastic fan-base. Soul Asylum’s move to Columbia Records in 1992 found them taking a bold step forward and ascending the retail and radio airplay charts like never before with the release of the RIAA double-platinum breakthrough album Grave Dancers Union – with the hits “Somebody To Shove” and the watershed phenomenon “Runaway Train” – and the ambitious follow-up, Let Your Dim Light Shine.

Despite touring for almost two years behind the RIAA platinum Let Your Dim Light Shine, the members of Soul Asylum still found time to pursue other creative outlets. Murphy recorded Down By The Old Mainstream, the second effort by the twang-drenched Midwestern coalition Golden Smog (comprised of Murphy, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the Honeydogs’ Noah Levy, Run Westy Run’s Kraig Johnson, and Gary Louris and Marc Perlman from the Jayhawks) and toured with the Jayhawks. Mueller began spending time spinning tunes with Lori Barbero (of Babes In Toyland) on Tuesday nights at the 400 Club in Minneapolis. Stepping away from the mic and getting back up on the drum riser, Pirner (the original tubthumper driving both Soul Asylum and Golden Smog) toured a bit with his side-project the O’Jeez, an across-the-board experimentally-oriented band made up of himself, Jessy Green (ex-Geraldine Fibbers) and Kraig Johnson. Pirner also wrote the score for Kevin (Clerks) Smith’s critically-acclaimed film Chasing Amy and has been travelling up and down the Mississippi River, exploring the cultural history and bona fide roots of rock & roll.

Pirner sees the band’s extracurricular activities as beneficial for everyone. “It gives us a chance to do stuff that doesn’t work with Soul Asylum,” he says, “and it gives us a chance to grow and learn more about what playing music with other people is all about. I don’t see how this couldn’t bring something good to the band. Whether it’s just Karl listening to Funkadelic and playing records or Danny learning things about band dynamics by playing with the Smog or the Jayhawks, I think we all come back to Soul Asylum being very thankful that we have each other, and in a way it makes us even more solid.”

Ever the spiritual and social humanitarians, Soul Asylum even took some time out this past summer to make a command performance as the prom band at a Grand Forks, North Dakota, high school, helping the students of a flood-ravaged area put some closure on what turned out to be a very tough school year. “We basically played, well, prom music,” says Murphy. “Not to sound like a guy, but… we just played music to get laid to.” (And a very good time was had by all.)

So, at this point in Soul Asylum’s career, is rock & roll a trip or a destination? “Well,” answers Pirner, “it’s a plea-a plea for redemption. To me, that’s what it is. It’s a trip and a destination. And it’s something that you get to when you get there. It’s a search, it’s an experiment, it’s an exploration, it’s a journey… it’s all of those things. And it continues to renew itself for me, and that’s the best part of it. There’s always something new and exciting that you can do with a rock band. And I’m real thankful for that.”

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