Billboard Bits: Shakira, 'Today,' Ray Charles

News on Shakira, 'Today,' Ray Charles

ShakiraA bag of cement dust was thrown at Colombian pop star Shakira during a promotional appearance at a shopping center near Sydney. The dust did not reach the 25-year-old singer, who was quickly ushered off stage after the incident last night (May 2) at the Westfield shopping center in the suburb of Hurstville. Some of the 2,500 fans in attendance had trouble breathing because of the dust, including a teenage girl who was treated for an asthma attack, emergency officials said.

The singer, in Australia for a weeklong tour to promote her new Epic album, "Laundry Service," had been on stage signing autographs for 15 minutes when a bag of cement powder was thrown toward her, record company officials said. The bag split and covered more than 20 people with dust.

Police arrested a 19-year-old man afterward. He was later charged with offensive behavior, assaulting police and resisting arrest. Shakira spent another hour and a half at the mall signing autographs, and met with several fans who needed medical treatment.

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A mix of pop and Broadway stars highlight the lineup of this year's free summer concert series presented by "Today, Weekend Edition." The concert series, which kicks off May 4 with a performance from Brian McKnight, will take place Saturdays at 7 a.m. outside of the show's Rockefeller Center studios in New York. Artists for a handful of the dates have yet to be confirmed. As previously reported , the morning news show's weekday sister program "Today" is presenting its own summer concert series every Friday.

May 4: Brian McKnight May 11: Broadway's "The Lion King" May 25: Pet Shop Boys June 15: Sarah Brightman June 22 : Broadway's "Mamma Mia" July 13: Jade Anderson July 20: Broadway's "42nd St." July 27: Remy Shand Aug. 3: Broadway's "The Boys of Syracuse" Aug. 17: Hop, Swing, and a Jump Dance Studio Aug. 24: Kenny Chesney Sept. 7: Broadway's "The Producers"

R&B legend Ray Charles will be presented with an honorary doctorate of philosophy degree Monday (May 6) during commencement at Albany State University in his hometown of Albany, Ga. Charles is planning to make a charitable donation to the school, which he has bestowed with $1 million over the years. The artist will also receive Albany State's "Friend of the University" award. While in Georgia, Charles will film a commercial for the state lottery that will find him performing "Georgia on My Mind." His first new album in six years, "Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again," is due Tuesday from Charles' own Crossover Records. As previously reported , the artist recently lent his name to the first series of slot machines for the visually impaired. The Bally Gaming Systems machines, which include audio cues and a Braille button deck, began shipping last month.

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