Billboard Bits: Ray Charles, Livin' It, Leaves

News on Ray Charles, Livin' It, Leaves

RayLongtime Ray Charles manager Joe Adams has unveiled plans and artist renderings for the previously announced Ray Charles Museum. Encompassing Charles' existing RPM studio site, the three-story, 18,000-square-foot museum is slated to open in late 2007 under the auspices of the Ray Charles Museum Foundation.

Venice, Calif.-based RipBang Studios created the facility's initial design. In addition to rotating exhibits and never-before-seen artifacts from Charles' career, the museum will house classrooms, a cafe, a rooftop garden and a retail shop, as well as the business offices and administrative staff for Ray Charles Enterprises.

"The museum is something that Adams and Charles had been hashing around for a few years," says Jerry Digney, a spokesperson for the Ray Charles estate. "Charles was always very active in supporting schools, including Morehouse, and he wanted to do something for the community. It will not only be a museum but equally a music education center available to locals and out-of-towners."

Built in 1964 under the direction of Charles and Adams, RPM was named a Los Angeles landmark in 2004.

-- Gail Mitchell, L.A.

WelchEx-Korn member Brian "Head" Welch and actor Stephen Baldwin have formed Livin' It Records. The label will launch later this year with the release of Welch's solo debut album, which he is currently recording.

The label, which is in the process of securing distribution (either with a major label or distributor), will be heavily promoted and marketed through Baldwin's extreme sports ministry, Livin' It, which is a division of Christian ministry Palaufest Productions.

Last year, Baldwin released the DVD, "Livin' It," which was sold on the Livin' It Web site and at Livin' It music/extreme sports festivals. The Baldwin-lensed/produced skateboarding documentary has sold over 80,000 copies, according to the company.

With the label, Baldwin says he and Welch are bringing God and the Bible "to the kids in a hardcore way that they can relate to.

-- Michael Paoletta, N.Y.

LeavesHighly touted Icelandic alternative rock quintet the Leaves returns in May after a two-year absence. The band's debut album, "Breathe," appeared in the United Kingdom in August 2002 on B-Unique and in the United States in September 2003 through a licensing deal with DreamWorks.

Leaves parted company with B-Unique after Warner acquired it in 2003. "We got lost in the shuffle of music business politics," vocalist Arnar Gudjonsson says. "But it gave us the space to refocus."

The original three-piece added a drummer and keyboardist and signed to Island Records U.K., recording the widescreen rock found on sophomore album "The Angela Test" in Reykjavik. The set is due May 30 in the United Kingdom; plans for other territories are being finalized.

-- Nigel Williamson, London