Billboard Bits: Wyclef Benefit, Nick Cave, and more

News on Wyclef Jean Benefit, Nick Cave new album, Looper signs to Mute, Van Morrison

Mary J. Blige, Steven Marley (son of reggae icon Bob Marley), and the Rock Steady Crew dancers have joined the performer line-up for Friday's (Jan. 19) Wyclef Jean Foundation (WJF) benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York. As previously reported, the bill will also feature Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child, Charlotte Church, Third World, and Clef's Kids, a performing arts group for 13-16 year-olds founded by the WJF.

Jean promises the show to be a revue of musical eras from the 1930's through the present day, which will feature a duet between he and Clapton on a new song written specifically for this performance.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are set to release their 11th album in April on Mute in Europe and via Reprise in North America. "No More Shall We Part" is the group's first new material since 1997's "The Boatman's Call," and is comprised of 12 tracks recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. As on the last album, the band includes Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis, guitarist Blixa Bargeld, bassist Martyn Casey, drummers Jim Sclavunos and Thomas Wydler, pianist Conway Savage, and guitarist Mick Harvey. Tour dates are forthcoming. Mute has also agreed to a worldwide record deal with Looper, fronted by ex-Belle & Sebastian principal Stuart David. Following two albums with Sub Pop, including 2000's "The Geometrid," the group plans to release its label debut sometime in 2002.

Contrary to an earlier report, Van Morrison will not be appearing at President-Elect George Bush's inaugural celebration tomorrow (Jan. 18) at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In a statement, the artist's publicist said, "Mr. Morrison was never slated to appear at this event and has no intention of doing so." Among the confirmed performers are Destiny's Child and Ricky Martin, who has drawn ire from one of his songwriters for his appearance.