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Billboard Bits: Khan/Neville, Russell Crowe, Eagles Of Death Metal

News on Chaka Khan/Aaron Neville, Russell Crowe, Eagles Of Death Metal

Chaka Khan and Aaron Neville are the first two acts signed to the new Burgundy Records, Billboard has learned. The imprint was founded by Joe DiMuro, the executive VP of Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group. Burgundy will be distributed by Sony BMG.

New albums from each are due later this year. Khan's disc of original material will find her returning to her raw and gritty Rufus-era funk roots. For his CD, Neville will reinterpret soul standards made famous by the likes of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.

"We know there is an audience for this music," DiMuro says. "We will propagate [it] to other areas. We will monetize it."

-- Michael Paoletta, N.Y.

After spending two months in Australian clubs fronting his new band the Ordinary Fear of God, Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe will face a much larger audience on Jan. 25.

That day, Crowe and his band headline a nationally televised Australia Day concert on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra, in front of 30,000 people. That means massive exposure for the Sydney-based actor's music, which he says "allows me to interact with audiences in a way films don't."

Crowe's previous outfit, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, released three albums between 1998 and 2003. His current download-only album, "My Hand, My Heart," is out on his own Gruntland label through iTunes internationally and in Australia.

-- Christie Eliezer, Melbourne

As tipped here in September, the Eagles Of Death Metal will release their next album, "Death by Sexy," April 11 via Downtown Records. The video for first single "I Want You So Hard (Boys Bad News)" will feature Jack Black, Dave Grohl and EODM/Queens Of The Stone Age principal Josh Homme.

Look for upcoming appearances by EODM frontman Jesse Hughes on the next Peaches album and a collaboration between UNKLE and producer/artist Chris Goss.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.