Billboard Bits: Utada Hikaru, MTV Latin Awards, TLC

News on Utada Hikaru, MTV Latin Awards, TLC

NellyTop Japanese singer-songwriter Utada Hikaru took Japan by surprise today (Sept. 6) by announcing her marriage the same day to Kazuaki Kiriya, a photographer and video director with whom Utada has worked during the past two years. In contrast with the glitzy PR-fest that is the norm when Japanese celebrities marry, Utada and Kiriya tied the knot by simply registering their marriage at a government office with no publicity at all.

Utada, 19, made history when her debut album, "First Love," became Japan's biggest-selling album ever (9 million copies to date) following its release by Toshiba-EMI in March 1999. Her second and third albums, as well as a string of singles, have also topped the Japanese charts. Kiriya is 34.

In a message to her fans posted on her Web site, Utada said that while some people might think she is too young to get married, "It's natural for me to decide to spend my life with a person I love." She also asked her fans for their support as she begins married life while continuing with her career.

In March, Utada signed a worldwide English-language recording deal with the Island Def Jam Music Group, although she remains under contract as a Japanese-language artist to Toshiba-EMI on its Virgin division's Eastworld label. That contract is also worldwide. The artist was born in New York and is the daughter of music producer Teruzane Utada and Junko Utada, who in the 1970s was one of Japan's top
female singers under the name of Keiko Fuji.

-- Steve McClure, Tokyo

EMI Latin will be releasing an album based on the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards Latin America. The disc -- due Oct. 22, two days before the awards show in Miami Beach -- will feature 12 tracks in Spanish and four in English. Kylie Minogue and Gorillaz are among acts contributing English-language cuts. The album will be supported by a major campaign on MTV Latin America. As previously reported , Shakira, Diego Torres, and Juanes lead the MTV VMALA nominations with five, including artist of the year and video of the year. La Ley, Mexican band Kinky, and pop star Paulina Rubio earned four nominations each. A number of artists tallied three nods, including Sanz, Enrique Iglesias, Catupecu Machu, and Babasonicos.

Female R&B trio TLC, blues artist Clarence Carter, and gospel act the Homoneers Quartet will be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame during a Sept. 28 ceremony at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The 24th annual gala will include performances by Carter, the Harmoneers Quartet, gospel artist Babbie Mason, country artist Doug Stone, and Ricky Keller & the Georgia All Star Band. Surviving TLC members Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas will make a special appearance, as will Arista Records president Antonio "L.A." Reid, Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, and Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor. Tickets priced at $75 and $100 each are available by calling 770-934-0906.