Stories on the Essence Awards, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Mavericks.

BeyonceBeyonce Knowles, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott are among the performers confirmed for the 16th Annual Essence Awards. Set for June 6 at Los Angeles' Kodak Theatre, the event will also feature performances by Lionel Richie, New Edition, Talib Kweli, Common, and the Gap Band.

Hosted by comedian Steve Harvey, the ceremony will honor artists Mary J. Blige and Mos Def, and radio personality Tom Joyner. Rapper-turned-actor Queen Latifah will also be on hand to receive Essence's Readers Choice Entertainer of the Year award. A two-hour Essence Awards special will air June 27 on Fox.

Tickets ranging from $50 to $450 are on sale to the public via Ticketmaster. For more information, visit the Essence Web site.


-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.







Patti LaBelleThe Songwriters Hall of Fame will honor vocalist Patti LaBelle with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its 34th annual induction and awards dinner. The June 12 New York event will also recognize the George C. Cory Jr./Douglass Cross penned "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" with the Towering Song award; for delivering the quintessential rendition of the tune, Tony Bennett will be the first to receive the organization's new Towering Performance award.

As previously reported, the 2003 class of Hall of Fame inductees consists of Little Richard, Phil Collins, Queen, and Van Morrison. Jimmy Webb will be honored with the Johnny Mercer Award, and noted record executive Clive Davis will receive the Hitmaker Award. Wynonna Judd, Ray Charles, Pink, Billy Joel, Ben Taylor, and Berry Gordy will be among those on hand to perform and/or present honors at the event.


-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.







Raul MaloReunited country-rock act the Mavericks has added guitarist Eddie Perez (Gary Allan, Kim Richey) to its lineup. Perez is the fourth guitarist in the band's lineup, following David Lee Holt and Nick Kane. Perez is currently in the studio with frontman Raul Malo, bassist Robert Reynolds, and drummer Paul Deakin, working on the band's forthcoming new album.

"In 1996 my dad and I went to see the Mavericks at the Greek Theater in L.A., and we were both completely blown away," Perez said in a statement. "At that show I told my dad 'I want to play in that band one day.' Never did I dream that I'd actually ever get the opportunity!"

The as-yet-untitled album is due in September via Sanctuary Records. The set is being produced by Malo with songwriter Kenny Greenburg.


-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.