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The Last Word: Beyonce Starts a Ruckus, Erykah Badu Is Back, and Alicia Keys Gets Wild

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What’s the word good people? We got over another week and managed to be around still to tell the story. As for highlights, we’ve got a continuing writers strike that’s shutting Hollywood down, John McCain answering a question from a woman who labeled Hillary Clinton as the B-word, a school in Maryland threatening jail time for parents who don’t update their kids immunization records and Barry Bonds being indicted Thursday (Nov. 15) for perjury and obstruction of justice with the possibility of going to prison for telling a federal grand jury he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs. Thoughts and prayers go out to Kanye West and his family regarding the death of the rapper’s mother Dr. Donda West. Shout out to the soundings boards for keeping me musically inclined.  And now…the Last Word, for the week ending Nov. 16, 2007.  1. Erykah Badu Makes Honey Sweet Return It’s been years since Erykah Badu brought her musical stylings to fans. A lot of singers have come and gone, but Badu is gearing up to make a full fledged return with her new single “Honey.” The 9th Wonder-produced song, which recently leaked, will officially be released on Tuesday (Nov. 20) and is described by Badu as “an old school track with some funk on it.” According to a press release, the release of the single marks Badu’s 10th year in the music industry.  And what better way to celebrate the milestone than to release a new album? Badu’s forthcoming album will arrive in stores on a special day, Feb. 26, her birthday.  In addition to 9th Wonder, the album will include production and engineering services from Madlib, Mike “Chav” Chavarria and R&B singer Bilal. While everyone is wondering what she’s been up to since the release of her last full-length project, Badu admits to playing the back this time around.  “The music is the star,” she said in the release. “I just laid down my vocals and let the music breathe while the melodies tell the stories.” Nuff said. Now that Erykah is coming back, let the candles and incense burn.  2. Justin Timberlake Gets His Tiger Woods On Justin Timberlake may have a hold on music fans, but can he tee off with the best of them? That will be the question as the singer hosts the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.  The event, which is scheduled to take place Oct. 13-19, 2008 in Las Vegas, is part of a five-year deal Timberlake signed with the PGA Tour, the Associated Press reports. The former boy band member will do double duty by playing in the Open and hosting a concert during tournament week. Proceeds from the event will benefit Shriners Hospital for Children.  “I couldn’t be more excited,” Timberlake said in a statement. “We will make sure to make this event unique and memorable, and we will raise money for charity while participating in the greatest game ever played. Raising money to better children’s lives while playing golf? I can’t think of a better way to pass the time.” As the 14th celebrity in PGA history to host an event, Timberlake is in good company. Past celebrity hosts include Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr.  While the first quarter of his 2008 will be off to a positive start, the accolades continue to rain down on the 26-year-old music maker this year as he joins Jennifer Hudson, former President Bill Clinton and Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham on Barbara Walters’ “10 Most Fascinating People of 2007″ list. The entire list will be revealed in an hour long special that will air at 10 p.m. ET Dec. 6 on ABC. 3. Alicia Keys’ Mom Objects To Daughter’s Stripper Name Alicia Keys is enjoying the good life with a new album, adoring fans and thriving acting career. But would you still be into her if she used her given name, Alicia Augello-Cook, to stake a claim in the music industry? How about Alicia Wild? The names may not be as memorable as Keys, but the Grammy-winner tells Newsweek magazine that she was close to introducing herself as something other than her famous stage last name. “It’s a funny story. I got so desperate I went through the dictionary for something that catches my eye. I get to the W’s and I pick Wild. ‘Alicia Wild, how does that sound, Ma?’ She said, ‘It sounds like you’re a stripper.’ But I liked Keys. It’s like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors.” Looks like mom’s instincts paid off as her daughter is reaping the benefits of her honesty. So what do think, would you have preferred Wild or Keys for Miss Augello-Cook? Could you picture buying the album As I Am by Alicia Wild? Something to think about.  4. Nevada Residents Upset Over Beyonce Billboard Images of Beyonce always seem to trigger some type of reaction. But a billboard featuring the songstress is raising the ire of a few people from, of all places, Las Vegas.  The Associated Press reports that the residents are so upset over the ad, which features a bikini-clad Beyonce, that they are labeling it as too obscene and are petitioning to have it taken down.  “It’s obscene,” one resident Pamela Keeney, told the Reno Gazette Journal. “I have my two little grandkids coming over here, and they don’t need to be seeing that. You can change the channel on the TV but you can’t change that.” The controversial billboard is an ad for local radio station KWNZ. According to the station’s manager, Scott Seidenstricker, the image on the billboard represents one of many sides for those who make a living in the public eye. “The billboards were taken from publicity shots and this is the way those people perform,” he said. “So to show them in a jogging suit probably wouldn’t be the right thing.” I guess not. After all, you gotta keep it real. No matter how family-friendly the effort may or may not be. But seriously, it’s Vegas. There has to be much more risque stuff going on to get ticked over a billboard. I guess you have to be there. Go figure.  5. Kelly Rowland vs. Patti LaBelle in Clash of the Choirs In yet another interesting concept from the realm of reality television, former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland will go head to head against singing legend Patti LaBelle. The only thing is both women will battle as celebrity choirmasters on NBC’s new show Clash of the Choirs.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, LaBelle, Rowland and fellow singers Michael Bolton, Nick Lachey, and Blake Shelton will go back to their hometowns to assemble a choir of 20 amateur singers. LaBelle will return to Philadelphia, while Rowland heads home to Houston. Bolton will be going back to his hometown of New Haven, Conn., Lachey will travel to Cincinnati and Shelton will trek back to Oklahoma City.After rehearsing with their choirmaster in their hometowns, the choirs will fly to New York to perform live in a musical “sing-off” competition over four consecutive nights. Viewers will vote one choir off the show each night.In addition to training the choirs for their stage numbers, the celebrities will critique the performances, along with a music expert. The choir and celebrity choirmaster who wins the competition will get to choose a prize to help their community – anything from renovating a school gym to building a new neighborhood playground. Clash of the Choirs will air Dec. 17-20 live from New York. Sounds like an interesting contest. Nothing like good singing. However, Kelly may have an uphill battle because we all know Miss Patti is gonna have that choir in sangin’ mode for sure.  Finally! A new reality show with a new attitude.

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