Billboard Bits: 'Xmas In Washington,' Marsalis, Edwards

News on 'Xmas In Washington,' Marsalis, Edwards

RubenJoJo, LeAnn Rimes, Ruben Studdard and Vanessa Williams are scheduled to perform at the annual Christmas in Washington concert. President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are expected to attend the event, which will be taped at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and broadcast Dec. 15 on TNT. Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw and his wife Robin will host the show.

Past Christmas in Washington performers have included Kenny Chesney, Joss Stone, Usher, Faith Hill and Gloria Estefan. Proceeds from the event benefit the National Children's Medical Center.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

WyntonJazz great Wynton Marsalis has composed the soundtrack for the forthcoming Ken Burns-directed documentary "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." The two-part feature on the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion will be broadcast Jan. 17-18 on PBS, while the soundtrack will be released Nov. 30 via Blue Note.

Marsalis composed 13 new pieces for the film. The set also features "Rattlesnake Tail Swing" and "Fire in the Night" from his 1999 Sony Classical album "Reeltime," as well as interpretations of six tracks by such artists as WC Handy and Jelly Roll Morton (two of which are previously released).

Marsalis, who last worked with Burns as senior creative consultant on the sprawling 10-part 2000 PBS documentary "Jazz," tapped his brother, trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, to produce the new sessions, along with Burns and Paul Barnes.

Clips of "Unforgivable Blackness" were screened over the weekend at New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center, with Burns providing commentary and the Wynton Marsalis Septet performing music from the soundtrack.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

KathleenCanadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards has completed work on her sophomore album, "Back to Me," according to her
official Web site. The follow-up to her 2003 debut, "Failer," will be released March 1 via Zoe/Rounder.

On Nov. 23, Edwards will tape an episode of the Bravo! Canada series "Live at the Rehearsal Hall" in Toronto. She is expected to perform music from the new album plus a duet with Jim Cuddy on the "Failer" track "Hockey Skates." Edwards will also open four Irish shows for Josh Ritter next month, performing Dec. 13 in Cork, Dec. 16-17 in Dublin and Dec. 19 in Galway.

The critically acclaimed "Failer" reached No. 20 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and has sold 76,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.