Billboard Bits: Essence Awards, Johnny Cash, The Vines

News on Essence Awards, Johnny Cash, The Vines

AliciaAlicia Keys, India.Arie, and Janet Jackson will be honored at this year's Essence Awards, to be taped May 31 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles and air June 6 on Fox. Jackson will receive the magazine's "entertainer of the year" award, chosen by more than 35,000 readers. Steve Harvey will host the awards, now in its 15th year, with performers and presenters to be announced soon.

Additional music honorees include producing team James "Jimmy Jam" Harris and Terry Lewis, and songwriter Kenny Gamble. Actress Halle Berry, author Terry McMillan and businesswoman Cathy Hughes will also be recognized. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster and range from $50 to $500.

-- Todd Martens, L.A.

"The Best of Johnny Cash: The Mercury Recordings Edition of 20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection," due May 21, will collect highlights of the Man In Black's brief tenure with Mercury Records. The 12-track set features tracks from each of the albums he released between 1986 and 1990, including a pair of sets on which he re-recorded some of his classic songs. The compilation, which comes a few months after Cash's 70th birthday, features "The Night Hank Williams Came to Town" with Waylon Jennings, from 1986's "Johnny Cash Is Coming to Town," and "Wanted Man," co-written with Bob Dylan, from 1990's "The Mystery of Life." Also included is Cash's version of Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle," from 1990's "Boom Chicka Boom." Rounding out the set are songs that Cash re-recorded for "Mystery of Life" and 1987's "Classic Cash": "Cry! Cry! Cry!," "Folsom Prison Blues," "I Walk the Line," "Home of the Blues," "Tennessee Flat Top Box," "Get Rhythm," "I Still Miss Someone," "Long Black Veil," and "Blue Train."

Australian rock quartet the Vines will on July 16 release its Capitol debut, "Highly Evolved." The group, which has been the subject of immense international hype on the strength of singles for the title track and "Factory," recorded the 12-track album in Los Angeles with producer Rob Schnapf (Guided By Voices, Foo Fighters). The Vines also got a boost in visibility by covering the Beatles' "I'm Only Sleeping" on V2's "I Am Sam" soundtrack earlier this year. The group will kick off a short North American tour with a previously announced April 27 appearance at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.

April 27: Indio, Calif. (Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival) May 2: San Diego (Casbah) May 5: San Francisco (Slim's) May 7: Hollywood, Calif. (Troubadour) May 17: Toronto (El Mocambo) May 20: Cambridge, Mass. (T.T. the Bear's) May 21: Philadelphia (Khyber) May 23: New York (Mercury Lounge)