Previewing upcoming albums from the Billboard 2001 Latin Music Awards, Angie Martinez, David Gray, MJ Cole, Brooks & Dunn, and more.

Hot Latin Sounds

Christina Aguilera, Christian Castro, Luis Miguel, Carlos Vives, Son By Four, and Paulina Rubio are among the artists featured on BMG Latin's "Billboard 2001 Latin Music Awards" compilation album. The 13-track set also includes tracks by Los Temerarios, Rocio Durcal, Gilberto Santa Rosa, and Gisselle. This year's awards will taped April 26 at Miami's Jackie Gleason Theater and will air April 29 on the Spanish-language Telemundo Network.

Son By Four and veteran salsero/balladeer Marc Ant hony will go head-to-head in seven awards categories, including Billboard Latin 50 artist of the year and Hot Latin Tracks artist of the year. Special honors will also be given to regional Mexican icons Los Tigres Del Norte, percussionist Mongo Santamaria, and East Los Angeles band Los Lobos.

Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Thalia, Son By Four, and Alejandro Fernandez are among the acts confirmed to perform. Vives, Jon Secada, Celia Cruz, Jerry Rivera, and Tito Nieves will present awards.



'Close' Call

WQHT New York DJ Angie Martinez steps out from the booth on her Elektra debut, "The Up Close and Personal Project." "People in New York have given me so much love that I wanted to give of myself in return," she says. "There's more to me than what I put out there on the radio."

The impetus for Martinez's solo spin was her guest appearance on Lil' Kim's 1997 No. 3 Hot 100 single, "Not Tonight (Ladies' Night)," which also featured Da Brat, Left Eye, and Missy Elliott. Martinez says her inaugural album is a way to give something of herself back to the audience that's supported her over the years.

First single "Dem Thangs" features ex-A Tribe Called Quest rapper Q Tip. The track peaked at No. 27 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart last month.



Lost And Found

Following its huge success in England and Ireland, David Gray's "Lost Songs 95-98" will be released this week via ATO in North America. The album is certified quadruple platinum in Ireland, and in England it debuted at No. 6 on the album chart in F ebruary. The acoustic set features 11 songs written by Gray during his "wilderness" years of 1995-98, following his exit from EMI after the unsuccessful 1996 album "Sell, Sell, Sell."

"They would have just gone to waste, or become part of a mass of unrel eased material," Gray says of the compositions. "[That] was a really prolific time for me. Much as it was a bad time as far as my career went, I was writing like crazy. I wrote three or four albums' worth of stuff and this is a selection of acoustic track s that went together in a very simple way."

In support of the runaway hit album "White Ladder," Gray is currently out on his most extensive tour of North America. The jaunt runs through May 28 in Vancouver.



'Just Enough' Rock

Welsh trio Stereophonics have built a redoubtable reputation in the vanguard of British rock, with worldwide sales of its 1999 V2 opus, "Performance & Cocktails," at 2 million units, according to the label. Now, V2 hopes to increase that by 100% with Stereophonics' third collect ion, "Just Enough Education to Perform," due April 9 in the U.K. and April 17 in the U.S.

"A lot of the time in America, people seem to think about things too much," frontman Kelly Jones says. "Everything's so formatted and categorized. But everyone seem s to like this record. Also, for the first time [the U.S.] likes one of our videos." That is the clip for "Mr. Writer," which debuted at No. 5 on the U.K. singles chart late last month.

The group begins a North American tour May 14 in San Francisco and w ill also open five dates on the European leg of U2's Elevation tour in July and August.



Steers And Beers

In the past decade, Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn have racked up multiple gold and platinum albums, scored 14 No. 1 hits, and netted numerous industr y accolades. And lest anyone think that Brooks & Dunn are ready to head out to pasture, the award-winning country duo plans to serve notice to the country with "Steers & Stripes," due this week on Arista/Nashville.

The duo's efforts with producer Mark Wr ight have resulted in an album that stays true to B&D's successful formula of mixing heartfelt ballads -- in evidence here with the song "Unloved" -- with high-octane romps such as "See Jane Dance," penned by the duo's guitarist, Charlie Crowe. First sing le "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You" is sizzling at country radio, and is No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart this week.

"Steers & Stripes" stands to benefit immensely from the duo's upcoming tour. The Neon Circus & Wild West Show will featur e Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry, and Keith Urban, as well as jugglers, fire-eaters, and various circus acts. "It will add to the whole effect," Dunn says. "That stuff will go on between the shows. Once the show starts up, then they go back to their corner s. We unplug them."



His Aim Is True

Since its release last year in the U.K., MJ Cole's 2-step-centric debut, "Sincere," has spawned such crossover hits as "Crazy Love," "I See," and the title track. Along the way, Cole was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize (best album) and a Brit Award (best new artist).

Originally issued on Gilles Peterson's London-based imprint Talkin' Loud, "Sincere" will arrive on these shores this week via Island/Def Jam, complete with two bonus tracks. A true hybrid, 2-step -- or U.K. garage, as it's also called -- incorporates elements of drum'n'bass, speed garage, dancehall, house, and American R&B. Throughout England, the genre's syncopated beats and impassioned vocals can be heard in the underground and mainstream clubs, in trendy boutiques and restaurants, and on both commercial and pirate radio.

"It really has exploded over the past couple years," says Cole of 2-step's current crossover success. "What's really great is that it's co-existing in the underground and the overground. Everybody is finding some element of the sound to embrace. And it really wouldn't be where it is today without pirate radio."



Angelic Archives

Rhino Records this week releases a pair of two-CD retrospectives from the late Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. The pair collaborated on a pair of acclaimed albums in the '70s, "G.P." and "Grievous Angel," songs from which are featured on Parsons' anthology, "Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels." The Harris set, "The Warner/Reprise Years," draws from her 23 top-10 country hits as well a host of tracks previously unavailable on CD in the U.S.

"Sacred Hearts" includes cuts from Parsons' early work with the International Submarine Band as well as three tracks from his stint with the Byrds. Four cuts are featured from his days with fellow Byrd Chris Hillman in the Flying Burrito Brothers, including the group's famous cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses." Parsons died on Sept. 19, 1973, of heart failure at age 26 in a motel room in Joshua Tree, Calif.



Additional titles hitting stores this week include R&B vocalist Sunshine Anderson's "Your Woman" (Soulife/Atlantic); San Francisco-based modern rock outfit Creeper Lagoon's sophomore album, "Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday" (DreamWorks); veteran indie rock trio Unwound's "Leaves Turn Inside You" (Kill Rock Stars); the debut album from Bigdumbface, "Duke Lion Fights The Terror," featuring Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland (Interscope); Celtic group Cherish The Ladies' "Girls Won't Leave The Boys Alone" (RCA); an album from country artists Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw, "I Finally Found Someone" (RCA); and a new set from indie rock collective Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, "Bob Dinners And Larry Noodles Present Tubby Turdner's Celebrity Avalanche" (Communion).

Also out this week are reissues of the original soundtracks to film versions of the Who's "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" (Polydor), plus the soundtrack to the 1979 documentary "The Kids Are Alright" (MCA); a two-CD greatest-hits set f rom Elvis Costello, "The Very Best Of" (Rhino); reissues of five seminal Miles Davis albums: "At Newport 1958," "Jazz at the Plaza," "Milestones," "'Round About Midnight," and "The Best of Miles Davis & John Coltrane" (Columbia/Legacy); and a live album from former Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's new band Halford, "Live Insurrection" (CMC).