Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fantasia to play Ovens in November

Fantasia is bringing her very first headlining tour to Charlotte this fall.

The 30-city "Back to Me" tour will begin on Nov. 4 in Richmond, Va., and stops at Ovens Auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 17. This will be the 26-year-old High Point native's first public appearance in the Queen City since her suicide attempt in August, which came just days after the story about her affair with a married Charlotte man was splashed all over the tabloids.

"I'm so excited about this tour and having the chance to connect with my fans, the people that love me and have been supporting me through everything," she said in a statement. "This tour is going to be a real special, intimate experience for them and for me."

The eight-time Grammy nominee's tour will support her third studio album, "Back to Me," which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart and No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.

Fans can sign up at FantasiaOfficial.com to receive up-to-date tour information and details on pre-sale opportunities. Opening the show for the Season 3 winner of Fox's "American Idol" will be three-time Grammy Award nominee Eric Benet and Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer Kandi.

Elton John to play his hits in Asheville

Elton John and his band will appear on Nov. 16 at the Asheville Civic Center in Asheville to performing their “Greatest Hits Live” concert, featuring hits such as “Candle in the Wind,” “Your Song,” “Daniel,” “Rocket Man,” and “Bennie and the Jets.”

Elton John’s career spans five decades, during which he’s produced 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, and 29 consecutive Top 40 hits; and sold more than 250 million records worldwide. His band includes Davey Johnstone on guitar, Bob Birch on bass, John Mahon on percussion, Nigel Olsson on drums, and Kim Bullard on keyboards.

Nov. 16 is a Tuesday, and the concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. The Asheville Civic Center has a seating capacity of approximately 7,600. Tickets ($47/$87/$137, plus applicable fees) go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 4, online at www.ticketmaster.com, at all Ticketmaster outlets, or via charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000. There is an eight-ticket limit per customer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rodrigo y Gabriela cancel tour

Mexican musical duo Rodrigo y Gabriela have canceled their October tour dates, including a scheduled performance at The Fillmore Charlotte on Oct. 16

From the press release issued by their publicist:

"After a year of relentless touring, the wear and tear finally caught up with Gabriela. Her incredibly physical style of play involves banging out complex rhythms on the neck and body of her guitar night after night, putting great stress upon her right hand and arm as well as joints like the wrist and elbow. It is under a doctor's recommendation that she rest her joints and muscles to avoid further harm and permanent damage. While the duo is incredibly frustrated to have to pull out of dates in cities they were very much looking forward to visiting for the first time, the move was an unavoidable reality that had to be made in order to ensure that Gabriela fully recovers and is able to play at full capacity for many years to come.

Rodrigo y Gabriela hope to return to the cities affected by the tour dates in the future and are grateful for their fans continued support and understanding."

'Billy Elliot' tickets on sale Friday

Tickets to the Tony Award-winning "Billy Elliot the Musical" go on sale Friday during a special event that will double as a charitable opportunity.

The line will begin forming at 5 a.m. at Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St, and the box office will be open from 7 a.m.-9 a.m. During this time, Second Harvest Food Bank will be collecting canned goods and HDR Architecture will display the word "DREAM" using canned goods ("to honor the show's theme of following and achieving one's dream").

"Billy Elliot the Musical" plays at Ovens Auditorium from Jan. 12-30. For more information, click here.

Beginning at 9 a.m., tickets will be available online at BlumenthalCenter.org; by phone at 704-372-1000; through Ticketmaster; or at the Bojangles' Arena box office.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Avett Bros. prove to be red-hot ticket

On Tuesday, the Avett Brothers announced that they would be performing and signing copies of their new CD/DVD, "Live, Volume 3," on Oct. 5 at Manifest Disc in Charlotte.

On Wednesday, Columbia Records announced that the special in-store event had already sold out.

Admission to the 7:30 p.m. appearance on Tuesday, Oct. 5, was granted to the first 400 fans who pre-ordered the CD or DVD at the South Boulevard music store.

"Live, Volume 3" documents the Avett Brothers' performance at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte on Aug. 8, 2009 and can be pre-ordered here.

Stone Temple Pilots concert rescheduled

Stone Temple Pilots have pushed back their show at Charlotte's Road Runner Mobile Amphitheatre by two weeks -- originally scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 6, it will now take place on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

According to a Live Nation press release, the move is part of a re-routing of their fall tour. All purchased tickets for the original dates will be honored for the rescheduled shows.

Tickets are on sale now at LiveNation.com, the amphitheatre box office, Ticketmaster or charge by phone 800-745-3000.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fort Mill chef ready to mix it up on 'Kitchen'

As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the girl.

Lisa LaFranca, 48, says co-workers originally thought she'd make a good candidate for Fox's hit show "Hell's Kitchen" because of "my New Yorkness… They think I'm a (expletive), I guess."

The corporate food director -- who has lived in Fort Mill for four years and wound up making "Hell's Kitchen's" Season 8 cast -- describes her personality with equal bluntness: "I'm not out to impress anybody, really. The things I do, I do for me. I don't care what other people think. I really don't. I'm not gonna kiss anybody's (expletive)."

She and 15 other contestants will vie for a $250,000-per-year head chef job in L.A., under the watchful eye of the show's acerbic star, chef Gordon Ramsay (who himself is known for profanity-laced tirades). The competition begins in Wednesday night's season premiere, which airs at 8 on Fox.

LaFranca, for her part, is curious to see how she's been edited. "It'll be interesting to see what they keep and what they don't keep, 'cause with my mouth … I don't know."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ke$ha to party in Charlotte for Halloween

Get ready to brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack: Ke$ha -- the pouty pop star behind hits like "Tik Tok" and "Blah Blah Blah" -- will headline Kiss 95.1's 2010 Gravediggers Ball at Dixie's Tavern in uptown Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 30.

Her opening act will be Kevin Rudolph, best known for the 2008 hit "Let It Rock" and this year's "I Made It."

The annual party consistently draws big-name acts as headliners; in the past few years, Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry and Bret Michaels have performed for thousands of Halloween partiers.

Tickets for Gravediggers Ball are $15 and available at Dixie’s Tavern or online at DixiesCharlotte.com and Kiss951.com.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ace & TJ employee bets job on Panthers' win

KISS 95.1 Photo
From a press release that just popped into our inbox:

Nationally syndicated top rated Morning Show Ace&TJ hopes hometown NFL team the Carolina Panthers have a winning season and soon, or else they are out a show member!

Stunt guy, White Shadow promises a victory for the Panthers within the first 5 weeks of the regular season and he’s willing to bet his job on it.

The team must have a win by October 11th for the part-time employee and former intern of nearly 3 years to keep his position.

Following a season opening loss against the NY Giants in the Meadowlands, the Panthers next chance for victory will be at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday September 19thagainst the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ace&TJ Show stunt guy, White Shadow is most known for his stint living on the roof of the radio station last year for 20 days, until the Panthers won a game during the 2009-2010 season. After a disappointing pre-season and a loss to the Giants last week, Shadow vowed not to live on the roof again, claiming that the team would fare better this year than last. If the Panthers don’t win a game over the next 4 weeks, or game 5 of the regular season, Shadow promises to walk away from his job on the show.

“Living on the roof was my way to rally for the guys last year, now I’m confident in my team. I’m not worried I will lose my job by October, even if Moore can’t play,” Shadow said.

Ace points out, “This shows his dedication to the Panthers. We don’t want to lose him, but we’ve made him aware that now this has become public there is no backing down. If the Panthers don’t win he has to leave the show.”

TJ adds, “We love his dedication to the Panthers, we’re just not that crazy about his dedication to the job!”

Kelli Bartik, FOX Charlotte sports anchor, joined the Ace&TJ Show this week and commented that on paper, the Panthers had a good shot to win in their match up against the Buccaneers. This could be their best chance for a win until week 5 when they play the Chicago Bears. Shadow and the Panthers have until October 10th against the Bears to win.

Listen Monday to hear if Shadow has a job! The Ace&TJ Show can be heard on flagship station Kiss 95.1 in Charlotte and nine other syndicated stations, as well as online at www.acetj.com. Follow us on www.twitter.com/TheAceTJShow and on Facebook, “Ace & TJ Show”.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bob Dylan to play on UNC Charlotte campus

Bob Dylan and His Band will perform an all-ages concert at UNC Charlotte's Halton Arena at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday for $45 (or $25 for students with I.D.) plus $10.30 in service and handling fees.

Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster by clicking here; there is also a presale beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday (use the password "49ers").

Dylan -- the 69-year-old singer-songwriter behind anthems like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin' " -- will be playing at universities throughout the Southeast and Midwest during the month of October. A full list of tour dates is here.

Will 'nice guy' finish first on 'Survivor'?

The last few years have been hell for Chase Rice.

In 2007, having just earned a job as a starting linebacker for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he suffered an ankle injury in the first game of the season. He would not return to the gridiron until the fall of 2008.

"I got my starting job back, and then I got the call that my dad had died," recalls Rice. "I ended up not being the same player." His performance suffered, he lost his starting job again, and suddenly he was without two things he had really loved: football, and his father.

And so being cast on "Survivor: Nicaragua," the 21st installment of CBS's long-running hit reality competition, fulfills two of the 24-year-old's desires: to rekindle his competitive fire, and to honor the memory of his late father with a display of mettle and fortitude. Rice is one of three contestants this season who have strong ties to N.C. -- after graduating from UNC in 2009 he worked as a jackman for Hendrick Motorsports in Mooresville for a year, then moved to Nashville to pursue a country-music career.

Q. Did you do anything in particular to prepare for the trip to Nicaragua?
Actually, I got with a Marine here in Charlotte and did some training with him. He helped me with my diet to get me ready ... I cut out all sugar. The goal there is to get your body mentally and physically ready for the hell that you’re about to go through. I actually lost weight … I dropped from probably about 212 to about 206. That’s not too much, but still a lot of people put weight on (before they do the show).

Q. What was your strategy going into the competition?
A lot of people trust people from the South, so I wanted to use that to my advantage. And just lay low, just try to be a nice guy, really just get people to trust and try to stay out of arguments ... because the more you argue and put your name out there, the more your head’s on the chopping block. So I just kind of wanted to stay out of the way and work hard and just try not to put a target on my back really.

Q. How did you react to the news that the theme for the season was going to be old vs. young?
"Oh dang, this ain’t good." Because my first picture in my head was like "Lord of the Flies," where nothing’s gonna get done, everyone’s gonna be arguing, there’s gonna be no leadership. Then I figured the older tribe would probably have a lot of organization, good leadership, especially because they got (two-time Super Bowl winning coach) Jimmy Johnson on the team. Best coach right there."

Q. You come across on your CBS bio as a generally nice guy, someone who doesn't seem to want to cause problems. Is that you?
Yeah, I mean, there’s no reason to go around causing problems just pissing people off all the time, you know? It’s kind of a different deal because this is a competition, but in my opinion, you want to be yourself as much as you can, because if you’re out there for a whole 40 days or whatever, eventually the real you is probably gonna come out. So that was my mentality going in, to be me from the start. People will see that, and that to me will allow people to trust you. Because if you’re trying to fake everything, then most likely people are going to see through that.

Q. It also said on your bio that you mention JT as the "Survivor" contestant you’re most like.
Yeah, I feel like JT played ("Tocantins") just great. He won a ton of the challenges and yet people still loved him. To me, it’s almost I’m kind of confused by that, because if I see someone like that that everyone loves and is winning and deserves it, that’s someone you should probably get rid of. But JT found a way to keep the target off his back. And he’s from the South, so that’s something we definitely have in common.

Q. What would you do with a million dollars if you won it?
My brother and his buddy from high school started a nonprofit organization called Huntthecure.org. It’s based out of Asheville and basically the money that they raise goes to trying to find a cure for cancer. My dad pretty much died from malignant melanoma cancer, and so I’d like to donate some money to them. And other than that, just kind of give me a foot up living in Nashville. It’s a tough business to make it in, but a million dollars wouldn’t hurt.

Q. How’s the music thing going?

It’s going well. I’ve been meeting with people, doing songwriting sessions, and just working on writing right now. The more you can write, the better you get and the better songs you put out.

Q. Looking back on the career-ending football injury and the passing of your dad, how would you say your life perspective has changed having had a couple years now to grieve and reflect?
Everything that you go through in life, it makes you who you are, and I’ve been through some tough stuff in the last two years, losing football and obviously losing my dad. So I feel like it’s definitely made me a strong person, it’s made me closer to my family. I would talk with my mom once a week or something before I lost my dad, and now I talk to her all the time and I go see her as much as I can. ... I’ve gotten tougher from it, because you’ve gotta learn to get through life without a dad. It’s not the easiest thing when you’re 22 years old.

Q. Do you feel like in a way you went out to play Survivor for your dad?
Absolutely. And also to just kind of represent my family. I got you know two older brothers, Chad (28, of Raleigh) and Casey (26, of Wilmington), and then my mom (who lives in Fairview, near Asheville). I’d like to represent them in the best way that I can.

Q. Before you got on the show, what’s the craziest thing you’d ever done in your life?
Probably run out in front of a race car. Race cars go down pit road at 50 mph and you’re just running out in front of one while other cars are zooming by. So that’s a pretty crazy thing. But it’s fun. It’s better to have a good time then live a boring life.

Monday, September 13, 2010

N.C. 'Survivor': I'm no 'old fogey'

Jane Bright had been trying for 10 years to get her shot at "Survivor" fame, so when she finally got the call that producers were interested, she wasn't about to let a little weather get in her way.

"The hardest thing was actually getting to the casting, because that's when the ice storm hit here back in January," says Bright, who lives in the tiny town of Jackson Springs, near Pinehurst. "I told the producer, 'I'll tell you what. I've got a John Deere tractor, it's got big ol' tires, I know that tractor will make it up there (to the airport). My neighbor just busted out laughing. They were like, 'Jane, you gonna drive your tractor?' I said, 'If I have to. It's real important. I HAVE to be there.'"

The 56-year-old dog trainer, who was born and raised in Gaffney, S.C., eventually made it to the audition (no tractor necessary) and landed a spot in "Survivor: Nicaragua," the 21st installment of CBS's long-running hit reality competition. Bright is one of three contestants this season who have strong ties to N.C.

Q. What’s Jackson Springs like?
It’s a blink. We have a crossroads. We have a church on one side of the crossroads, and a little tiny -- and I mean a tiny -- park on the other side of the crossroads. And we have a community center and a post office. That’s it. … It’s real rural, and this is where Pinehurst was originally supposed to be. But anyway, I like it out here.

Q. Before you got on the show, what’s the craziest thing you’d ever done in your life?
Probably rappelling off the side of a cliff at Kings Mountain. I had this guy who when we were in college he talked me into going up there, and he literally had to pry my fingers off the side of the mountain to get me to grab the rope. Once I did it, I was fine. But that initial letting go -- I don’t know how far up we were, but it was very high up. The other guy that went with us, he never did do it. He panicked, he just couldn’t do it.

Q. What was your motivation for applying to the show?
I’ve been applying for like 10 years, ever since that first show appeared on TV (and) a friend of mine called me up and he said, “I have never seen anything that I thought you couldn’t do and you need to go try to apply for that.” So he and I, we were applying for a couple years, never got picked, never got selected, nothing. And I’m not one to quit, so if it’s in my mind to do something, I keep doing it until I get it. I mean, I’d probably 90 years old and still applying.

Q. What was your strategy going into the competition?
I know I can do things, and I know I can fish, I know I can hunt, I know I’m not afraid to go grab a crab and stuff like that. My whole procedure was try to make as many friends as you can get, hang low, if you have to ride somebody’s coattails, do it. That never ended up happening. I couldn’t make an alliance with any strong guy to save my life; they thought I was weak as water. And I proved them wrong. And I think some of them regret not making an alliance with me in the beginning, but that’s all I can say about that. But I knew I was gonna take care of them, kind of be like the momma hen and show them ... I’m valuable (in certain ways).

Q. What was your initial reaction when you found out the theme for the season was going to be old vs. young?
Oh, I was crushed. I was like “I don’t want to be with these old fogeys. Noooooooo, these young kids will whip our asses!” (Laughing.) I mean, I know we had some strong people on our team, but the youth have such vigor and such vitality and such energy -- to me that goes a long way. I was kind of crushed because I was hoping to pick some little studly dude and be like his momma so he’ll like carry me along a little bit, and then it ended up being all the old dudes together and I’m looking around, I’m going OK that guy looks really good, maybe ride his coattails (but he didn’t want to have nothing to do with nobody.

Q. What would you do with a million dollars if you won it?
Pay off my farm, get my child through college, and build a big building barn where it can be a multifunctional building where I can have the kids train their dogs in the summertime without having to be outside in a hundred degree weather (she runs a summer camp on her farm). ... I also need a place I can store my hay so I can get more money for it in the wintertime when nobody’s got any hay.

Q. One thing that really comes across in the little bio video of you that appears on CBS’s website is that you’re young at heart, and that you think people tend to underestimate your endurance. Do you think it’s that you’re in really good physical shape literally, or do you think it’s just a raw, natural toughness you’ve developed by virtue of the fact that you don’t live a pampered life?

Well, I’ve never lived a pampered life. I mean, I wake up real early. I never sit down ... and I’ve never been fat, OK, I’m always active. I’ll eat in five minutes, and I’m out to go and do something else. I look at it like every minute of every day, there’s something that needs to get done. And that’s just the way I am. I don’t take many days off. ... (The experience of being on the show) is harder than what you think, but I am a survivor and I truly could have survived out there with what we were given. I could have. I mean, it’d been nice if there’d been a little more fruit and stuff like that, but even though it was hard and there were times I was freezing cold, shoot -- it was not that bad. I’m a die-hard. Rain, sleet, snow, ice, whatever, I’m like the postal person: I’m still getting out there and doing it.

Is Nicholas Sparks a hopeless romantic?

Much will be made this week about the fact that Nicholas Sparks’ new book “Safe Haven,” which hit stores Tuesday, represents the bestselling author’s first major foray into the thriller genre.

And yet he’s not straying too far away from the immensely popular love stories he’s known for (like 1996’s runaway hit “The Notebook”), and after more than a decade the No. 1 question he continues to field from fans remains the same: Is the 44-year-old North Carolinian as romantic with his wife as the men are with the women in his books?

Sparks – who will sign copies of the new book at Barnes & Noble’s Arboretum location Thursday night – provided an answer to that popular question in a recent interview with the Observer, while also talking about his enormous popularity, creating convincing action sequences for “Safe Haven,” and why he’ll never set a novel on the Titanic.


Q. What drove you to push this story in this direction?

I do my best to write different novels, although on screen they tend to feel very similar. The novels themselves are as different as I can possibly make them while (retaining) some familiar elements. You know it’s gonna be a love story, you know it’s set in a small town and that you’re probably gonna like the two main characters. But other than that, I’ve really tried to vary it up, and for this story, I really wanted to ratchet up the element of danger. … I really wanted to make an original villain, a character that I think you’ll remember for a long time.


Q. Did the action sequences come easily to you, or were they challenging?

The action sequences were actually the easiest part of that novel to write, believe it or not. I probably wrote the last 100 pages of that novel in a week – which is incredibly quick for me. They went very easy because at that point in time you’re able to shift entirely to an external tension, and it’s very easy when you have something horrible, this impending sense of doom, to keep the pages turning. The goal is to just keep the pages turning, to write it so fast that it will read fast.


Q. Do you think your core fans will go for what’s going on in “Safe Haven”?

I think they’ll love it. It’s different. You’ve very compelling characters, you have a great love story, it’s very romantic, it’s got all the elements that they’re looking for. It’s just that it begins to shift till it’s something entirely different. And then when it’s entirely different, just when you thought you knew what it was, it’s not that at all.


Q. The whole book to me is very cinematic, and you’ve had so many books turned into movies. I’ve got to imagine it’s difficult now for you to write books without thinking about the movie possibilities. Is that true?

There is an element of that, but it’s less in the way you think it is, than it is this way: Whenever I try to think of a new story, I’m well aware of what’s been on film or on television, because I don’t want to do the same thing. For instance, I would never write a love story set on the Titanic. Now, you put a couple people from North Carolina out on that boat, it would be an original novel. And yet it would strike no one as original because of the power of the film. Another example: “Sweet Home Alabama,” very popular movie. It’s the kind of (story) that I could have written in novel form, but now that plot is now out for me – which is sad, because it’s a good one.


Q. The movie rights to ‘Safe Haven’ sold very quickly, didn’t they?

To Relativity Media, yes. Actually, this one had the largest bidding war of any of my previous novels. Usually I have one or two studios interested. This one I had eight plus a couple of production companies. And they all put in very substantial bids. One of the reasons why we went with Relativity (is that) they’ll promote the book over the next year and a half before the film comes out.


Q. Do you think the interest was because of the thriller element of this?

There was a number of factors. Number one, most films made from my novels, they’re financially successful. That’s not because they do a fortune at the box office as much as they can be made relatively inexpensively. You don’t have things blowing up and massive special effects (with) really wild settings. You can film these things in a small town anywhere, essentially, with generally just a couple of major characters. Number two, definitely the thriller element added (appeal), and I think the ending.


Q. Why do you think your books are so popular?

I don’t know. All I can say is that I try and write the kind of novel that I would enjoy reading, and I read a lot of different novels. I mean, I love a good thriller, I love a good classic novel, I love a good literary novel. I certainly think that that’s part of it, certainly I think the stories touch on perhaps elements that not everyone else writes about. I try to write the best books that I can and I’ve been fortunate people that there are some people that like them.


Q. How do you measure your own personal success?

It’s really based simply on my own feeling about the book. It’s hard enough to please just myself. I can’t all of a sudden worry about what everybody in the world thinks, because I have a worldwide audience. You really have to trust your own instincts and just write a story that you think is worth telling and write it to the best of your ability.


Q. Do you ever feel handcuffed by the love-story genre?

No, not necessarily, because as you can see with “Safe Haven,” I’m allowed to do quite a bit with it. You can really ratchet up all different kinds of elements, whether it’s a mystery, a thriller, or a ghost story, like “True Believer.” So you can do a lot of different things within that genre. … I don’t want to disappoint my readers. They read Nicholas Sparks novels for a reason, and I want to make sure that I give them what they’re expecting. I don’t want to bait and switch. I think people work too hard for their money.


Q. How do you such a good job writing from a woman’s perspective?

I was fortunate. I had a great mom, I had a great sister, I married well, my agent’s female, my editor’s a female, my publicists are female, I’m pretty much surrounded by women. And I’ve always tended to get along better with women than men anyway. I don’t know why. I like men, too. And then at the same time, I generally try to create the kind of woman character that I find attractive – they’re intelligent, they’re charming, they can be sensual, but they’re strong, they have their own opinions, they’re loyal, they try to do the right thing. I think that type of female appeals to everybody.


Q. Are you as romantic in your real life as the men are in your books?

This is a very common question that I get. I try to be. I try. I’m certainly not perfect. I mean, my wife and I have been married for 21 years. She’s still my best friend, she means the world to me, I love her as much as I did the day we were married, I’d ask her to marry me again. She likes romantic gestures and I like to make her happy, so I do my best, let’s put it that way.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

'Survivor' to play Charlotte concert

Want to get a sneak peek at someone who might turn into a reality TV star?

Chase Rice, a former UNC-Chapel Hill football player and a member of the current cast of "Survivor: Nicaragua," spent a year working at Hendrick Motorsports in Mooresville as a NASCAR jackman before moving to Nashville to pursue a country-music career.

On Thursday night, he'll perform a concert at the new Thurston's Bar, which is located at 1600 E. Woodlawn Road in Park Towne Village (downstairs on the patio just to the left of Sport Clips). He is tentatively scheduled to go on at about 9 p.m.

"I haven’t really played in Charlotte," says Rice, 24, who went to high school in Fairview, near Asheville. "I’ve played in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Wilmington, Asheville, but I’ve never played in Charlotte."

The 21st season of the CBS hit premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 15, and features a cast of 20 that includes two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson.

To get a taste of Rice's music, click here. His album "Friday Nights & Sunday Mornings" is also available on iTunes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Better news for Fantasia: Album is No. 1

September is starting on a high note for Fantasia, less than a month after she reached a new low.

The Charlotte resident's third studio album, "Back To Me," debuted this week at No. 1 on Billboard’s R&B Albums chart and at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

With more than 117,000 units sold since its Aug. 24 release on J Records, "Back To Me" marks Fantasia’s first No. 1 R&B album and her highest Billboard Top 200 chart ranking.

The 26-year-old High Point native, winner of the third season of "American Idol," has granted several interviews in the wake of her suicide attempt last month, talking about what led up to it -- namely, her affair with a married man (Antwaun Cook, a T-Mobile salesman).

“At the time, I wasn’t thinking about anybody,” she tearfully told the Los Angeles Times recently. “I was so numb. I was so out of it. I’ve never been to that place before. It was so scary. It was the darkest place that anybody would want to be.”

Fantasia was scheduled to do an interview with the Observer on Aug. 11, but it was postponed the day after she was hospitalized at CMC-Pineville on Aug. 9. On Aug. 16, a Sony Music rep told the Observer, "No word yet but of course you'll be on the list. She can't discuss ANY of the recent events though." And on Monday, the same Sony rep told us the interview wouldn't be happening "anytime soon" ...