Billboard Bits: Les Paul, 'Los Kidz Bop,' CMT

News on Les Paul, 'Los Kidz Bop,' CMT

LesWith his 90th birthday around the corner, guitar legend Les Paul is working on a new album that will find him collaborating with Eric Clapton, Sting, Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora, Joss Stone, the Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik, Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Joan Osborne, among others. The as-yet-untitled disc will be released this summer via Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing.

The label is also readying a "90th Birthday Edition" of 1992's "Les Paul With Mary Ford: The Best of the Capitol Masters." Due June 7, the set adds three bonus tracks onto what was originally a single disc overview of the four-disc box "The Legend and the Legacy." The new version also updates the title's artwork and adds an essay by the artist.

Paul, who continues a weekly Monday night gig at New York's Iridium Jazz Club, is planning a set of summer tour dates. He'll celebrate his June 9 birthday at the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony, where he'll be honored with the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Razor & Tie will extend its "Kidz Bop" series into the Latin market later this month with "Los Kidz Bop." Like its seven English-language predecessors, the new volume will find children voicing "kid friendly" versions of hit songs. Among the selections are Enrique Iglesias' "Bailamos," Juanes' "A Dios Le Pido" and Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca," among others.

The combined sales of "Kidz Bop" releases in the United States are at 4.5 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In February, "Kidz Bop 7" -- with versions of the Usher/Alicia Keys duet "My Boo" and Counting Crows' "Accidentally in Love" among its offerings -- bowed at No. 7 on The Billboard 200.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

DierksVeteran rock duo Heart and newcomer Dierks Bentley have joined the performance slate for the 2005 CMT Music Awards. They join previously announced entertainers Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Big & Rich, Keith Urban and Gretchen Wilson for the April 11 show, which will hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

Also due to appear during the ceremony are Montgomery Gentry, Lee Ann Womack, Deana Carter, Shooter Jennings, Joe Nichols, LeAnn Rimes, the Warren Brothers, Julie Roberts, Shania Twain and Van Zant. Other celebrity presenters include actors Jeff Daniels, Drea de Matteo, Gina Gershon, Dennis Hopper, William Shatner, comedians Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy and NASCAR drivers Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers.

As previously reported, Chesney, Keith, Tim McGraw and Big & Rich are the top nominees with four apiece. Country legend Loretta Lynn will be honored with the Johnny Cash Visionary Award.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.