Billboard Bits: Stevie Wonder, Garrison Starr, Railroad Earth

Stevie Wonder honored by United Negro College Fund, Garrison Starr and Railroad Earth prep new albums.

Fantasia, Maroon 5, India.Arie and Toni Braxton are among those who will pay tribute to Stevie Wonder during the United Negro College Fund's annual "An Evening of Stars" fundraising telethon. Set to air Jan. 6-8 in syndication, the show at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood honors Wonder for his music, humanitarian efforts and philanthropy.

Also set to appear during the four-hour broadcast are Lou Rawls, Quincy Jones and Doug E. Fresh, actors Jeremy Piven, Vivica A. Fox, Gary Dourdan, Idris Elba and Terrence D. Howard, and comedians D.L. Hughley, Robert Townsend and Tyler Perry.

For local airdates and channels, visit the UNCF Web site.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Singer/songwriter Garrison Starr is planning a March 13 release for her fifth full-length disc, "The Sound of You and Me." Her second album for Vanguard Records was recorded in Nashville with collaborator/guitarist Neilson Hubbard co-producing the album with Brad Jones.

"I am not making an album that will be thrown against the wall to see if it sticks for radio," Starr says. "It was made because it's beautiful and intense and sad and lonely and that's how I feel a lot of the time. I wanted to make a record that is true to my life."

Earlier this month, Starr completed a set of tour dates but expects to return to the road in 2006 to promote "The Sound of You and Me."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Bluegrass infused six-piece Railroad Earth will release its first live album, "Elko," due Jan. 24 via Sci Fidelity Records. The two-disc release is the band's first for the label, also home to String Cheese Incident, following a pair of albums for Sugar Hill and its 201 BOS Music debut.

Recorded across the band's spring tour, the set includes four songs that have not appeared on Railroad Earth studio albums: the title track, "Old Man and the Land," "The Hunting Song" and "Warhead Boogie."

As this year closes, the band will play a show tomorrow (Dec. 29) in Falls Church, Va., and Friday and Saturday in Philadelphia to welcome the New Year. 2006 tour dates begin Jan. 12 in Seattle and include an "Elko" release celebration Jan. 21 in San Francisco and a March 26-31 stint as part of
Jamm in Jamaica.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.