Billboard Bits: Houston, Tritt/Charles, Groove Armada

Stories on Whitney Houston's free New York performance, Travis Tritt and Ray Charles' "CMT Crossroads" episode, and Groove Armada's upcoming new album.

Whitney HoustonWhitney Houston will give a free performance Sunday (Dec. 8) outside New York's Lincoln Center. Houston will be playing three songs from her upcoming album "Just Whitney..." (Arista), that will air two days later on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"Just Whitney...," Houston's first album under her historic $100 million deal with Arista -- thought to be the largest recording contract in history -- will be released the day the performance airs. Houston will also be interviewed by Diane Sawyer during ABC's "Primetime" on Wednesday (Dec. 4) at 9 p.m. ET.

-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y.

Ray CharlesThe episode of "CMT Crossroads" that fellow Georgians Travis Tritt and Ray Charles taped in September in Nashville will premiere Friday (Dec. 6) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the on the cable music channel. The collaborative show will find the pair performing "Leave My Girl Alone," a rendition of Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On," and "Between an Old Memory and Me," among other songs.

"This is a dream come true for me," Tritt said of working with Charles in a statement. "Of all the people that I listened to growing up, he had as much or more influence on the way I sing as anybody." For his part, Charles was equally complimentary, saying Tritt "has his own sound and he's got great range," adding, "and he can play his ass off."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

Groove Armada

U.K.-based electronic duo Groove Armada -- Tom Findlay and Andy Cato -- has nailed down a U.S. release date for its fifth studio album, "Lovebox." Due Jan. 21 via Jive Electro, the set features collaborations with an eclectic mix of guest artists, including Sunshine Anderson, M.A.D., Neneh Cherry, Nappy Roots, and Richie Havens.

Released in late October in the U.K., the 11-track set is led by first single "Purple Haze," which was recently delivered to U.S. radio outlets airplay consideration. Purchasers of the album can access a special area on the band's official Web site to download a bonus track not included on the album.

The group kicks off a 16-date U.K. tour that will feature a trio of shows at the Brixton (England) Academy Dec. 12-14. According to the group's site, the middle show "will extend into the wee hours," and will boast unannounced guests and DJs.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.


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