-Several urban music-themed events will be held during Grammy Week (Feb. 2-8.):
The inaugural MyHangSuite Brunch (Feb. 7, noon-3 p.m.) will feature
performances by 2008 Grammy nominees Heavy D, Janelle Monae and Wayna featuring Kokayi at the O Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Hosted by KCRW DJ and MyHangSuite co-creator Garth Trinidad, the event also boasts acts J*Davey, Res and a special guest DJ set by Macy Gray. Ticket proceeds will benefit rapper Common’s urban youth charity, the Common Ground Foundation.
Songwriters Ne-Yo, Chris “Tricky” Stewart, Johnta Austin and Manuel Seal will share their creative philosophies on “ASCAP Presents … The Hitmakers Panel” (Feb. 7, 1 p.m. —3 p.m.). The free session will be held at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, moderated by Billboard senior correspondent Gail Mitchell.
T-Pain, will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas), Chad Hugo (Neptunes), Makeba Riddick, Keri Hilson and surprise guests will also discuss the art of songwriting during BMI’s “How I Wrote That Song” (Feb. 7, 1 p.m.—3 p.m.). BMI VP Catherine Brewton will lead the discussion at the Key Club in Los Angeles.
-Sax man Boney James gets romantic on “Send One Your Love” (Concord Records, Feb. 3). The 10-track mixes original James compositions with covers of songs by Stevie Wonder, Barry White and the Stylistics. James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” is the lead single, featuring new R&B singer Quinn.
-Veteran MC Guru (GangStarr) and his frequent collaborator, producer Solar, will release their latest project, “Guru 8.0 Lost & Found,” on March 24 through 7 Grand Records. In addition to featuring 7 Grand artists K. Born, Highpower and Doo Wop as well as U.K. soul singer Omar, the CD marks Solar’s first appearance as an MC.
-Leela James is currently wrapping up her debut album on Shanachie. “Let’s Do It Again”—due out in April—finds James paying tribute to such personal influences as Angela Bofil, the Staple Singers, the Rolling Stones and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Womack. James was formerly signed to Warner Bros.
-Songwriter/producer Teddy Riley and singer/actor Jamie Foxx are in the studio working with new R&B singer Chanj. Signed to Los Angeles-based label Alistair Records, Chanj is a three-time winner of “Showtime at the Apollo.” A first single is expected in February/March.