Billboard Bits: Tom Jones, Holiday Specials & Chart

News on Tom Jones, Holiday Specials & Chart

JonesTom Jones is to be honored with the outstanding contribution to music award at the 2003 Brit Awards. Adhering to tradition, Jones will close the Feb. 20 show with a live performance. Previous recipients of the accolade include Sting, U2, David Bowie, Eurythmics, the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Van Morrison, and the Who. The 2003 event at London's Earls Court will be broadcast on the U.K.'s ITV network.

-- Lars Brandle, London

ArethaAretha Franklin and Lou Rawls will host the next installment of "American Soundtrack," the PBS-TV series of concert shows produced by WQED Pittsburgh. Taping Tuesday (Nov. 26) in Pittsburgh (air dates are to be announced), the show will play host to such R&B memory-makers as Bobby Purify, the Temptations' Dennis Edwards, Friends Of Distinction, Teddy Pendergrass, Peaches & Herb, and Tavares.

Meanwhile, Motown ushers in the holiday season with USA Cable Network's presentation of "A Motown Christmas Special." Taped at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, the D.L. Hughley-hosted special features Brian McKnight, Take 6, the Temptations, and Thelma Houston, among others. It airs Dec. 8.

-- Gail Mitchell, L.A.

Billboard's seasonal Top Holiday Albums chart has returned with this week's issue of the magazine (dated Nov. 30, 2002). Ten positions have been added to the list, which is now a 50-title chart based on sales data from Nielsen SoundScan. The chart will appear in the magazine every other week through the issue dated Jan. 11, 2003, and will be available weekly online to premium subscribers.

The No. 1 title on this week's chart is the two-disc 2001 collection "Now That's What I Call Christmas!" (EMI/Zomba/Sony/Universal), followed by Alan Jackson's new set "Let It Be Christmas" (Arista Nashville) at No. 2. The rest of the top-5 is rounded out by Mannheim Steamroller's "Christmas Extraordinaire" (American Grammaphone), Kenny G's "Wishes" (Arista), and the various artists compilation "WOW Christmas" (Word/EMI CMG/Provident).

-- Geoff Mayfield, L.A.