Billboard Bits: Wyclef Jean, IBMA Awards, Simple Kid

Billboard.com has learned that Wyclef Jean has signed to Epic, the label behind his chart-topping collaboration with Shakira, "Hips Don't Lie." Jean has previously recorded for Columbia, J and, most r

Billboard.com has learned that Wyclef Jean has signed to Epic, the label behind his chart-topping collaboration with Shakira, "Hips Don't Lie." Jean has previously recorded for Columbia, J and, most recently, Koch. There's still no word on the Fugees' long-in-the-works reunion album, which was supposed to be out last holiday season.

In related news, Shakira will play four stadium dates in Colombia, Chile and Argentina in mid-November. The artist will take a six-week break from the road following a Sunday (Oct. 1) performance in Mexico City.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.






The Grascals claimed the entertainer of the year trophy at the 17th annual International Bluegrass Music Awards last night (Sept. 28) at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. The Rounder Records group was also one of the acts contributing to the project that won album of the year, "Celebration of Life: Musicians Against Childhood Cancer." The Grascals latest album, "Long List of Heartaches," entered Billboard's Top Bluegrass Albums chart at No. 2 in the Sept. 16 issue.

The Lewis Family and Syd Nathan were the Hall of Honor inductees. Rhonda Vincent won female vocalist of the year and Tim O'Brien picked up the male vocalist accolade. Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder won instrumental group of the year while Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver netted the vocal group award. Tim O'Brien's "Look Down That Lonesome Road" was named Song of the Year.

The awards show was the centerpiece of the annual World of Bluegrass convention held at the Nashville Convention Center Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

-- Deborah Evans Price, Nashville






Nine months after quitting the music industry to work in a video store, Irish singer/songwriter Simple Kid got his mojo back. The folky trance-pop of Cork-born, London-based Ciaran McFeely's debut "Simple Kid 1" (2003) on U.K. independent 2m Recordings drew comparisons to Beck. It also shipped 2,500 in Ireland, 20,000 in the United Kingdom and 20,000 in the United States through Vector Records,

Business and management problems following 2m's 2004 closure prompted McFeely's "retirement," but he has returned reinvigorated with a riot of well-absorbed pop influences on "Simple Kid 2." The album is on London-based startup Country Gentleman Recordings, co-owned by McFeely, Paterson and co-manager Rob Holden. Distributor RGM issued the album Sept. 29 in Ireland, ahead of an Oct. 23 U.K. release through Universal Music. U.S. and European licensing deals are pending.

The first single from the album was September's vinyl and digital release "Serotonin"/"Ballad of Elton John." Paterson says releasing the six-minute-long "Serotonin" was "a conscious decision not to put ourselves under pressure at radio, but to reintroduce Simple Kid to the support and good will built up with the first album."

-- Nick Kelly, Dublin


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