R&B Briefs: Heather Headley, Dru Hill, Russell Simmons

- Tony Award winner Heather Headley, known for the R&B crossover hits "He Is" and "I Wish I Wasn't," unveils her first gospel album on Jan. 13. "Audience of One" (EMI Gospel) features first single "Jesus Is Love." A revamp of the Commodores' 1980 single, the Lionel Richie-penned track sports a guest stint by labelmate Smokie Norful. "Audience of One" was recorded in Nashville and produced by Keith Thomas (Amy Grant, Yolanda Adams).

- Dru Hill is recording a new album, "InDrupendence Day." Due later this year via the Dru Hill Music label, the album will be preceded by the first-quarter release of lead single "If You Fall." Joining members SisQo, Nokio and Jazz on "InDrupendendence Day" is new member Tao. The group is also working on a reality show set to air on Peachtree TV in Atlanta.

- Hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons will receive the NAACP's Vanguard Award during the organization's 40th Image Awards. Previous Vanguard recipients include Aretha Franklin, Prince and Steven Spielberg. The awards ceremony will be broadcast live (8-10pm ET) Feb. 12 on Fox.

- Norman Brown, Ray Parker Jr., Howard Hewett and Peabo Bryson are among the featured guests on producer/instrumentalist Norman Connors' new album. "Star Power" (Shanachie, Feb. 24) is comprised of new material and covers of several classics, including Connors' own 1974 top five R&B hit, "You Are My Starship." The new album marks Connors' Shanachie debut and first recording in seven years.

- Nat King Cole's musical legacy provides the centerpiece for "Re-Generations." A co-venture between Capitol/EMI and King Cole Partners & Productions, the March 10 release (CD, digital album and vinyl) finds a cross section of hip-hop, Latin, reggae and rock artists and producers offering their interpretations of various Cole classics. The lineup includes Cee-Lo ("Lush Life"), Cole's daughter Natalie and will.i.am ("Straighten Up and Fly Right"), TV on the Radio ("Nature Boy") and the Roots ("Walkin' My Baby Back Home").

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