Billboard Bits: Essence Fest, Kweli, Concord Jazz

News on Essence Fest, Talib Kweli, Concord Jazz

KeysAlicia Keys, Kanye West, Talib Kweli and Floetry have been added to the lineup for the 2005 Essence Music Festival. They join previously confirmed performer Destiny's Child for the event, which will be held July 1-3 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

Other acts on the bill include Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Jeffrey Osborne, Mint Condition, Vivian Green and Regina Belle. Ticket information and travel packages are available via the festival's official Web site.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

KweliRapper and former graffiti artist Talib Kweli will provide the voice of the lead character in Atari's upcoming videogame "Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure." The game, which will feature an extensive hip-hop soundtrack, is an homage to graffiti and hip-hop culture that follows the adventures of Trane, who becomes the leader of an urban revolution.

Fashion entrepreneur Marc Ecko created the story and characters, and the Collective handled game development and design. "Getting Up" is scheduled for release in September for PlayStation 2.

Kweli, who released his latest Rawkus album, "The Beautiful Struggle," last September, has a pair of speaking engagements lined up for Feb. 2 in Worcester, Mass., and the following day in Toledo, Ohio.

-- Antony Bruno, L.A.

DianeDiane Schuur will headline the Concord Jazz Festival tour, kicking off Feb. 4 in Ridgefield, Conn. Presented by jetBlue Airways, the eight-date theater outing will also feature veteran artists Oleta Adams and Karrin Allyson and newcomer Sara Gazarek.

Schuur plans to release her next album, a Latin-flavored set dubbed "Schuur Fire," in April via Concord Records, while Adams will be touring in support of last year's "All For Love" (Pioneer). Allyson's latest is the 2004 Concord set "Wild For You," and Gazarek, the 2003 DownBeat best collegiate jazz vocalist winner, is working on her debut for release later this year.

Here are the Concord Jazz Festival dates:

Feb. 4: Ridgefield, Conn. (Ridgefield Playhouse)
Feb. 5: Red Bank, N.J. (Count Basie Theatre)
Feb. 11: Glenside, Pa. (Keswick Theatre)
Feb. 12: Princeton, N.J. (McCarter Theater)
Feb. 13: Morristown, N.J. (Community Theatre)
Feb. 16: Atlanta (Robert Ferst Center for the Arts)
March 10: Seattle (Paramount Theatre)
March 11: Cerritos, Calif. (Cerritos Center for the Arts)

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.