Billboard Bits: Sinead O'Connor, Sting, Matisyahu

News on Sinead O'Connor, Sting, Matisyahu

Sinead O'Connor closed out her first batch of North American shows in support of her new album, "Throw Down Your Arms," Friday with a little help from one of her heroes: reggae icon Burning Spear.

O'Connor, who covers five Spear songs (including the title track) on her new disc, opened her set with an a cappella version of Spear's classic "Jah Nuh Dead," before bringing the song's author out to back her on percussion. Save a few acoustic moments, Spear remained onstage for the rest of the evening, rousing the crowd and adding backing vocals to Bob Marley's "War," among others.

"I had to try to act cool," a beaming O'Connor told backstage after the show. She and the 57-year-old Spear first met in April, when they came together to headline the fifth Jammys awards show in New York and performed four Spear songs.

-- Wes Orshoski, N.Y.

Sting will headline the sixth Tiger Jam, which will be held April 29 at Las Vegas' Mandalay Events Center. The event, spearheaded by golfer Tiger Woods, will raise funds for the soon-to-open Tiger Woods Learning Center, a youth education center based in Anaheim, Calif. Additional artists will be added to the bill.

As previously reported, Sting is at work on his next studio album, which will feature drum work from Josh Freese. Freese was behind the kit for Sting's latest North American tour, which saw him dispense with the large bands he's favored in recent years and reintroduce a number of Police favorites into the set list.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Hassidic reggae rapper Matisyahu's
debut studio album, "Youth," will feature a newly recorded version of the track "King Without a Crown," the live take of which is at a new peak of No. 17 this week on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. That song is drawn from Matisyahu's "Live at Stubb's," which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Reggae Albums chart.

Due Jan. 31 via Epic/Or Music/J Dub, "Youth" is expected to feature such tracks as "Late Night in Zion," "Unique Is My Dove," "Indestructible" and "Fire of Heaven/Altar of Earth." The album was largely overseen by noted producer Bill Laswell.

Matisyahu's busy touring schedule will continue through the end of the year, including a six-show Hanukkah tour that begins Dec. 24 in Philadelphia.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.