Fans of Sting will see the artist in a new light when his sold-out "Sacred Love" tour starts in January ... literally. "This tour will be a little more theatrical than usual," the Century Award honoree told Billboard. "I normally just concentrate on musicians and a few lights, really, but this time we'll have a little more visual imagery than normal, because we can. I never see the show, I see the audience, so I'll be interested to see their faces when they see the new show. But the artist always has the best seat in the house."
Stevie Wonder says he and Sting have been "talking for years about collaborating [on an album], which I'm sure we'll do." In the meantime, Wonder is wrapping work on a new album he hopes will be released in March on Motown. Mixing jazz, blues, R&B, hip-hop and spiritual music, the album will feature such intriguingly titled cuts as "What the Fuss."
He's also prepping for his eighth annual House Full of Toys holiday benefit Dec. 20 at the Forum in Los Angeles. In addition to the Wonder man himself, the lineup includes Michael McDonald, India.Arie, Anthony Hamilton and Ruben Studdard.
OutKast is not content to rest on the laurels of its multiple Grammy Award-nominated "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below." Members Andre 3000 and Big Boi begin work on an HBO movie in the new year. Big Boi declined to reveal further details about the movie. He did note, however, that the duo's next album will be the film's soundtrack.
In addition to the pair's self-named clothing line, Andre 3000 announced he has an unnamed personal clothing line on the way: "Fine clothing for fine people."
The duo took home the award for digital track of the year for "Hey Ya!"
Happy couple Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, who provided commentary throughout the telecast, have been sifting through endorsement offers. "It's all great stuff," Simpson said. "Everything that's on the table, I'm pretty much grabbing at. We just haven't had deals finalized."
Lachey said there are a few items he might have doubts about. "I've always been a little leery of the doll thing," he said. "Just the idea of someone walking around with a bad replica of my already ugly mug is pretty frightening to me."
However, he had no hesitation about a Nick and Jessica toilet seat. "That's absolutely OK. If people want to sit their bare bum on my face, that's fine."
Black Eyed Peas scored a massive hit in 2003 with "Where Is the Love," which was named Mainstream Top 40 track of the year. The tune's themes are universal, according to group member will.i.am. "The song's subject matter was in the same vein as people's mind-set right now. It's all timing," he said. "I think it's more than just the war. It's what we find important socially. People think there's importance in capitalism and materialism, and it's all backasswards."
Chingy struck a chord with fans with the hit "Right Thurr" because of "the accent and the way I said 'thurr,'" the artist said. The song captured the Rhythmic Top 40 title at the BMAs.
Although he'd received some local airplay in his native St. Louis with earlier material, he said hearing the song for the first time in other markets was "cool. I thought, 'It's doing pretty good.' Now when I hear it, I go 'I'm sick of this song!'"
In addition to touring and working on a new album in 2004, Chingy said, "I'm hoping to get into a little acting. I'm looking at scripts right now."
Smokey Robinson has just released his first CD of spiritual music. Called "Food for the Spirit," the project is the debut release on Robinson's own label, Robso Records. Now available at 1-800-Smokey4, the title will receive national distribution starting in March through Liquid 8.
"I think the Lord led me to do the album," Robinson said. "I'd originally written all these songs with the intent of sending them to people in the gospel genre, and I never got around to doing it."
Compiled by Melinda Newman and Gail Mitchell in Las Vegas.