-Singer Howard Hewett is releasing a holiday album through Koch-distributed Groove Records: the aptly titled “Christmas” (Oct. 14).

George Duke produced and co-wrote the original tune “That’s Christmas” with Hewett, as well as produced “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Additional producers include Earth, Wind & Fire’s Ralph Johnson and Monty Seward. Guests include Stevie Wonder, who
provides a harmonica solo on “The Christmas Song” and Latina artist Jaselle, who does a bilingual duet with Howard on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

Hewett joins a growing list of R&B acts issuing holiday albums this year, including Rahsaan Patterson, Al Jarreau and Aretha Franklin.

-Speaking of Christmas, The Whispers are issuing the DVD "Christmas With the Whispers" on Oct. 14. A joint venture between The Whispers' Satin Tie label and Las Vegas-based Odds On Records, the DVD is being distributed by Koch Entertainment. Holiday standards and original songs comprise the HD-shot DVD, which also features interviews with the group members and fans.

The Whispers were recently honored at the Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Awards.

-The release date for Avant’s self-titled new album is now set for Dec. 9. The project marks the singer/songwriter’s first for Capitol Records
(billboard.biz, Sept. 10).

-Syleena Johnson’s new album, “Chapter 4: Labor Pains” has now been
rescheduled for release Jan. 13, 2009. The album, her first after a
four-year hiatus, is on Johnson’s own label Aneelys Records (Syleena spelled backwards) and distributed by Federal Universal Music Group.