...One Hundred Million Dollar Diva, Whitney Houston...



[Billboard Report]

Patriotic, Charitable Titles Swell

[28 September 2001]


LOS ANGELES - As Americans yearn for a sense of community following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many are finding refuge in music that celebrates their sense of patriotism. A new wave of charity-oriented projects in response to the disasters is also being rushed into production.

"[Patriotic] songs really pull us together as a nation, at a time when it's so important for us to be strong and be as one," says Antonio "L.A." Reid, president/CEO of Arista Records, which is re-releasing Whitney Houston's 1991 renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful."

According to Arista, the label has shipped 750,000 copies of the single, which went on sale Sept. 27 for $3.99. The wholesale cost is $2.20. Houston and Arista are donating their royalties and net proceeds to the New York Fraternal Order of Police and the New York Firefighters 9/11 Disaster Relief Fund.

But perhaps no patriotic song has been embraced during this tragedy as much as "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. "All the other patriotic songs deal with tradition, whereas 'God Bless the USA' is a modern approach to patriotism," says Greenwood, who wrote the song in 1983 following the downing of a Korean commercial airliner over Russian airspace. "It says something that none of the other songs say, which is 'I'm proud to be an American.' " The song is No. 25 on this week's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

American Patriot, one of many Greenwood catalog titles available that feature the song, soars to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog chart this issue. The title carries a suggested list price of $11.98.

"We've shipped more than 200,000 units," says Gene Rumsey, executive VP of sales and marketing for EMD Music Distribution. "We're not advertising it—we're just responding to demand as quickly as possible."

Universal Music Enterprises and WEA Distribution also have versions of the song on their own Greenwood collections—both priced at $5.99—that are seeing tremendous increases in sales, according to the labels.

Curb/WEA will release a commercial single of "God Bless the USA" Oct. 10, as well as LeAnn Rimes' version of "God Bless America." Curb is also compiling a collection of previously recorded inspirational songs by Rimes that it will release Oct. 16 under the title God Bless America. But none are charitable efforts.

Although unavailable commercially, Faith Hill's version of "The Star Spangled Banner" from 2000 has also been flooding the airwaves. The song is No. 41 on this issue's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

Hill says, "To think that people are turning to my rendition [of the national anthem] for comfort, encouragement, or to pay tribute to the heroes of Sept. 11 is the highest praise I believe I can be given."

Sales of patriotic marches have also soared (see Declaration of Independents, page 66).

"There's been an amazingly weird variety of things people are looking for," says Eric Keil, VP of purchasing for South Plainfield, N.J.-based Compact Disc World. "We've had to do a lot of scrambling to meet demand."


The tragedy has spawned a number of new releases that are donating proceeds from sales to various charities. The following are a handful of upcoming projects:

• America: A Tribute to Heroes. Sources say that Interscope is negotiating to release a set compiled from the Sept. 21 telethon of the same name. Proceeds will go to the United Way's September 11th Fund.

• God Bless America (Columbia, $13.98, Oct. 16). This new compilation features a number of previously released patriotic or appropriately themed songs. The sole new track is Celine Dion's "God Bless America." A portion of the proceeds will go to the Twin Towers Fund. "God Bless America" was made digitally available to radio stations Sept. 24.

• "We Are Family" (Tommy Boy Records/ SumThing Else MusicWorks, $3.99, release date yet to be determined). The track is a remake of the Nile Rodgers/Bernard Edwards-penned Sister Sledge hit that features more than 75 celebrities, including Patti LaBelle and Queen Latifah. Proceeds are to be split with the American Red Cross and outreach programs promoting tolerance.

• What's Going On (Columbia, $11.98, Oct. 23). This five-track EP features versions of Marvin Gaye's classic tune and includes Bono, Destiny's Child, Backstreet Boys, and Fred Durst. First slated to benefit AIDS relief organizations worldwide, the project will now share its proceeds with the United Way's September 11th Fund.

• "What More Can I Give." Penned and spearheaded by Michael Jackson, this project features Destiny's Child, Marc Anthony, Brian McKnight, Tom Petty, and Seal, among others. Jackson has yet to announce a label, release date, price, or charity for the release.

• "El Ultimo Adiós" (Sony, $9.99, release date yet to be determined). This single features more than 30 Latin artists, including Chayanne, Thalía, and Gloria Estefan, on a new song penned by Emilio Estefan and Gian Marco. The disc also includes an English-language version, as well as an additional rendition in Spanish. Proceeds go to the American Red Cross and to the United Way.

Additional reporting from Leila Cobo in Miami.

[Thanks Lisa D.]

Billboard Chart Update...

The Billboard update for the week ending 6 October 2001:

Hot 100 Singles - Down to No.97 (from No.50) - 13 weeks on chart;

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles - Down to No.99 (from No.54) 2 weeks on chart;
Adult Contemporary Recurrents - Down to No.19 (from No.12) - 2 weeks on chart.

[Thanks Lisa D.]



[From Platinum Club]

Whitney's "Star Spangled Banner" In Stores Wednesday!

Whitney's version of the "Star Spangled Banner" being released as a single will be in stores Wednesday, September 26th. Be sure to get to your local record store and pick up your copy of the single as proceeds from the sale of the single will go to the 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund and the The New York Fraternal Order of Police, both benefiting the departments and their families affected by the tragedy at The World Trade Center. The single has entered Billboard's top 100 singles chart at #50.


The Star Spangled Banner Billboard History...

As the Star Spangled Banner re-enters the Hot100 this week, a decade after first charting, here is a reminder of some of the Billboard facts and stats about the song's previous chart performance.

The song debuted on the chart week of 9 March 1991 - the same week 'All The Man That I Need' dropped from No.1 to No.3 after two weeks at the top and registering as Whitney's 9th US Hot100 No.1 single.

'The Star Spangled Banner''s eleven week Hot100 chart trajectory was:

32 - 25 - 21 - 20 - 22 - 32 - 33 - 61 - 83 - 87 - 98

A Hot Shot Debut was awarded in it's opening week and the following week it earned the Power Pick/Sales award.  It was certified Gold in it's 8th week (Billboard rules state releases cannot be certified immediately).

The Billboard Hot100 Singles Spotlight (9 March 1991) written by Michael Ellis had this to say:

[Sales reports] play a major role in each of the three highest debuts on the chart.  (Normally, sales begin to build only after several weeks of radio airplay).  Whitney Houston's rendition of 'The Star Spangled Banner'  (Arista) explodes in sales for an amazing debut at No.32.  Ninety-five percent of its points come from sales, with only a handful of radio stations listing the record on their playlists.  A similar situation occurs with 'Give Peace A Chance' by the all-star Peace Choir (Virgin): The single debuts at No.54, with 95% of it's points coming from sales.  The latter is approaching 400,000 units according to it's label while the former is reportedly over 750,000.  Gold and/or Platinum certifications should be forthcoming.

Billboard published a 'review' in their Singles Review of the song in their issue dated 23 February 1991:

Whitney Houston
The Star Spangled Banner (2:15)
Producer: Not Listed
Writer: F. Scott Key
Publisher: Not Listed
Arista 2207 (cassette single)

Pop diva's stirring rendition of the national anthem, as performed at this year's Super Bowl has been issued to help raise money for the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund, which benefits U.S. military families.  The B side includes a gospel-flavored reading of 'America The Beautiful' with backing harmonies provided by Perri.


The main page of the Arista Records Website features the complete video for 'The Star Spangled Banner' in RealVideo format.

Star Spangled Release...

Music retailers have been asked to sell copies of 'The Star Spangled Banner' as soon as it's been received across the US - expect to see it as soon as tomorrow.  It's official release date appears to have reverted to 25 September 2001.

[Thanks Alan M.]

Billboard Chart Update...

The Billboard update for the week ending 29 September 2001:

Hot 100 Singles - Re-Entry at No.50 - 12 weeks on chart;

Hot 100 Airplay - Re-Entry at No.45 - 7 weeks on chart;
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles - New Entry at No.54 - 1 week on chart
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay - New Entry at No.47 - 1 week on chart;
Adult Contemporary Recurrents - New Entry at No.12 - 1 week on chart;
Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay - New Entry at No.38 - 1 week on chart.


The Star Spangled Banner Cover...

Star Spangled Banner CD Cover Star Spangled Banner CD Back

Click on the images above to view the cover and back-cover of the US  re-released 'Star Spangled Banner' single.

The release date for the single was originally scheduled for next week but reports suggest this has been moved to 2 October 2001.

[Thanks Alan M.]

US Hot 100...

'Star Spangled Banner' has re-entered the Hot100 chart at No.50 for the chart week ending 29 September 2001.  It's the 12th week on the chart in total for the song which originally peaked at No.20 in 1991.

Full chart statistics will be published as and when available.


US Music Retail...

Americans Tune Into Patriotic Music
By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - From the lakes of Minnesota to the hills of Tennessee, across the plains of Texas and from sea to shining sea, Americans are storming record stores for patriotic music, like Lee Greenwood's country standard ``God Bless the U.S.A.''

Retailers said on Wednesday that other in-demand artists include Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Depression-era singer Kate Smith, and even Irish musicians U2 and Enya.

The use of particular songs on television and radio fueled demand, said Dawn Bryant, a spokeswoman at Best Buy Co. Inc. -owned Musicland Group Inc., parent of the Sam Goody music retail chain.

Greenwood's Grammy-winning 1984 tune ``God Bless the USA'' reentered Billboard magazine's country airplay chart at No. 16 after receiving 2,605 spins on country radio stations across the United States last week, up from just 47 spins the week before, a spokesman for Greenwood said.

Tracks by New Age chanteuse Enya and rock bands U2 and Live were used as background music on attack-related TV specials and news programs, boosting sales of the artists' catalogs, Musicland's Bryant said.

Springsteen albums also did well, including his bestselling 1984 opus ``Born in the U.S.A.,'' whose scathing title track about the mistreatment of America's Vietnam War veterans has often been misinterpreted as a feelgood anthem.

The blue-collar rocker's version of ``We Shall Overcome,'' from a 1998 tribute album to folk singer Pete Seeger, was also popular, said Louise Solomon, a spokeswoman for the closely held 106-store Tower Records chain.

Singer Kate Smith, whose 1938 recording of composer Irving Berlin's ``God Bless America'' is considered the definitive version, enjoyed some posthumous popularity as her 1999 album ''The Voice of America'' was snapped up, Solomon said.

Houston's rendition of ``The Star Spangled Banner,'' originating from the 1991 SuperBowl telecast and found on her recent hits compilation, has been so huge that her Arista Records label is re-releasing it as a charity CD single.

Versions of ``America the Beautiful,'' written in the 1890s by Katharine Lee Bates, performed by the likes of Ray Charles and the Boston Pops Orchestra, also flew out of stores.

Industry-wide, sales of current albums jumped in the week ended Sept. 16, despite the closure of many stores on the day of the attacks and related distractions.

Data from music tracking firm SoundScan showed sales of the top 200 albums rose five percent over the previous week and by seven percent from the year-ago period. But overall sales, including catalog releases, were down about five percent from both periods, in line with the poor year for music sales.

The top 10 contained six new releases, including rapper Jay Z at No. 1 with ``Blueprint'' (Island Def Jam) and veteran rocker Bob Dylan with a career best debut at No. 5 with ``Love and Theft'' (Columbia). On the downside, pop singer Mariah Carey's Virgin Records debut ``Glitter'' bowed at No. 7 with sales that were 64 percent lower than the first-week tally for her previous studio release on Columbia.


The Star Spangled Banner Will Be Re-Released...

Whitney Houston's Recording of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' Will Be Re-Released By Arista Records to Benefit the New York Police and Fire Departments' Disaster Relief Funds

NEW YORK, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Antonio "LA" Reid, President and CEO of Arista Records and Whitney Houston, announced today the imminent re-release of Whitney Houston's soaring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" as a commercial CD single (which will also include her version of "America the Beautiful"). Whitney Houston, The Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, Inc. and Arista Records are donating their royalties and net proceeds from the sale of the single to the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police, both benefiting the departments and their families affected by the tragedy at the World Trade Center.

"In a time of tragedy, Whitney Houston's recording of our National Anthem has comforted and inspired our nation," said Reid. "Whitney and the entire Arista family are proud to make this contribution to the ongoing relief effort."

Whitney Houston's performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" originates from the ABC Network telecast of Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991. In the days following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Arista Records and Whitney Houston responded to the President's call for all Americans to proudly fly the American flag by immediately re-releasing the patriotic anthem to radio stations across the country.

Arista Records

Acquired by Bertelsmann in 1979, and now at the core of BMG Entertainment, Arista is among the world's most consistently successful, all-time hitmaking record companies. The careers of countless new artists have been launched and nurtured at Arista and LaFace Records, while many established artists have also flourished and reached new audiences at the label. In addition to demonstrating its ability to break international artists in the U.S., Arista maintains high-profile joint ventures with a number of successful producers and songwriters. Arista released its first records in late-1974, earned its first RIAA gold record in January 1975, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2000.

Confirmed Re-Release...

Houston's Anthem Version Re-Released

NEW YORK (AP) - Arista Records is rereleasing Whitney Houston's soaring version of ``The Star-Spangled Banner,'' which became a unifying song for Americans during the Gulf War, in response to last week's terrorists attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Houston performed the song at Super Bowl XXV on Jan. 27, 1991, when the United States was at war with Iraq. Her rendition brought many to tears.

The single already is on the radio, and Arista hopes to have it in record stores by next week, spokeswoman Laura Swanson said.

``I think that it's something that helps pull us together and brings us together as a nation,'' Arista president Antonio ``L.A.'' Reid told The Associated Press on Monday. ``It was one way for us for us at Arista to say, 'Hey, we're here to help.'''

Proceeds from the sale of the commercial single CD will benefit the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police.

[Thanks Dan L.]

Star Spangled Banner Re-Released...

[From VH1]

Whitney Houston's 'Star-Spangled Banner' To Wave Again By Shaheem Reid

While choosing new tunes for her upcoming album, one of Whitney Houston's old hits inspired some feelings of patriotism.

According to her label, Houston, who had been in the process of picking songs for the LP with Arista CEO L.A. Reid before last Tuesday's terrorist strikes, decided to do her part to help the country recover by agreeing to have her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" re-released.

Houston has waived her royalty rights to the recording and instead the proceeds will be split between the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund, Arista said.

The singer originally performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" right before the start of Super Bowl XXV in 1991; the nation was embroiled in the Persian Gulf War at the time. The patriotic feeling of her stirring cover resonated so strongly with the public that it was released as a single, and earned a gold certification in April 1991. Those profits went to the Gulf War Crisis Fund.

[Thanks Monte D.]

Charitable Re-Release...

[From MTV]

Whitney Houston's 'Star-Spangled Banner' To Wave Again

While choosing new tunes for her upcoming album, one of Whitney Houston's old hits inspired some feelings of patriotism.

According to her label, Houston, who had been in the process of picking songs for the LP with Arista CEO L.A. Reid before last Tuesday's terrorist strikes, decided to do her part to help the country recover by agreeing to have her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" re-released.

Houston has waived her royalty rights to the recording and instead the proceeds will be split between the New York Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund, Arista said.

The singer originally performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" right before the start of Super Bowl XXV in 1991; the nation was embroiled in the Persian Gulf War at the time. The patriotic feeling of her stirring cover resonated so strongly with the public that it was released as a single, and earned a gold certification in April 1991. Those profits went to the Gulf War Crisis Fund.

Other members of the music industry have also stepped up to help in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Michael Jackson plans to record a song — which is said to be in the vein of "We Are the World" — with such superstars as Britney Spears, Destiny's Child and 'NSYNC's Justin Timberlake; the proceeds of the song will go to survivors and families of victims in the attacks. Backstreet Boys, Madonna, Incubus and other artists plan to donate the proceeds from their concerts to relief efforts. Parent companies of most of the major record labels have pledged to donate millions of dollars as well.

There is no word on when Houston will enter the studio to begin recording her new album, Arista said. That LP will be her first under the $100 million recording contract she signed with the label in August.

—Shaheem Reid

Top Ten Most Searched...

The re-issued Star Spangled Banner single is unlikely to have re-designed artwork due to the tight deadline to get the single into stores according to a NY BMG rep.

[Thanks Alan M.]

Top Ten Most Searched...

Web Users Flock to Internet in Record Numbers Following Attack On America

WALTHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 18, 2001--

Nostradamus Receives More Searches in One Week Than Any Other Topic in Past Two Years the Lycos 50(TM) For Week Ending September 15, 2001

Terra Lycos (NASDAQ: TRLY), the largest global Internet network, today announced the following information from The Lycos 50(TM), the 50 most popular user searches for the week ending September 15, 2001. For a complete list of The Lycos 50(TM) and for in-depth text of The Lycos 50 Daily Report, go to http://50.lycos.com.

The Lycos 50(TM) Top 10 Search Terms for the Week Ending September 15,


1) Nostradamus
2) World Trade Center
3) Osama bin Laden
4) New York
5) Terrorism
6) American Flag
7) Afghanistan
8) Dragonball
9) Big Brother
10) Whitney Houston

Notes of Interest:

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, The Lycos 50 like everything else in America, has fundamentally changed. Tuesday's terrorist attacks led to a massive search for information never before seen in the history of the Internet. Half of the subjects on this week's list are new terms directly related to the attacks. The number one subject is not the World Trade Center (#2) nor is it terrorist suspect Osama Bin Laden (#3). Thanks to an e-mail hoax, the number one searched term is 16th century seer Nostradamus. The hoax, which originated with a student at Brock University in Canada in the 1990s and appeared on a Web page essay on Nostradamus, resulted in false rumors that Nostradamus predicted last week's attack on America. Nostradamus received more searches in one week than any other single subject since The Lycos 50 began two years ago. Nostradamus was misspelled in more than 100 ways and received 12.5 times as many searches as former number one term, Dragonball, which fell to number eight.

Additional search terms related to Sept. 11 aftermath:

The American Flag (#6) also appears on this week's Lycos 50. Another illustration of patriotism is the circulation of the e-mail of an editorial authored by Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair (#32) in 1973. The piece, entitled "The Americans," describes the United States, the good neighbors. Other searches making first-time appearances on the list following last week's terrorist attacks were Flightview (#46), a Web site that tracks commercial airline flights in the U.S. and Cantor Fitzgerald (#45), a leading treasury bond brokerage company based in the World Trade Center. More than 650 of Cantor Fitzgerald's employees are still missing following Tuesday's attacks.

Just Missing The Lycos 50:

Additional topics narrowly missing this week's list include: "God Bless America" (#52), Israel (#53), Boeing (#56), gas prices (#58), Barbara Olson (#63), "Proud to be an American," a.k.a. "God Bless the USA" (#75), blood donation (#77) and CIA (#80).

Normal Life Continues online:

Despite the crisis facing America, Web users still found time to search for Dragonball, Britney Spears (#17), the NFL(#15), Tattoos (19), Big Brother (#9), and Whitney Houston (#10). Web users were particularly interested in Houston following a false rumor that the singer died of a drug overdose last weekend.



Billboard Reviews...

Click Here to read the Billboard Magazine review of the Michael Jackson Tribute concert.

The section refering to Whitney reads:

From the first number, it became clear that this extravaganza would be memorable for everyone present. Usher, Mya, and Whitney Houston performed "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," from Jackson's 1982 smash "Thriller" album, getting the show off to an incredible start. Usher's superb showmanship puts him on the short list of today's entertainers who could even hope to inherit Jackson's legacy. Mya was as adept with elaborate choreography that introduced dozens of dancers, trapeze acts, and fire-eating performers.

Of course, an appearance by Houston these days is an event in itself. Looking rail thin, she kept up with the old-school spirit of the song. Unfortunately, here -- as on many occasions throughout the night -- sonic problems were many, as soloists and other crucial audio elements vanished periodically.


US fans can tune into Entertainment Tonight this evening at 18:30 CST for a story on Whitney's falsly reported demise last week.

[Thanks Michael]

Tribute Gallery...

The Michael Jackson Tribute Concert Image Gallery has been updated with a new (small) photo from Bunte Magazine (Germany).

[Thanks Sabine]



Star Spangled Banner History...

Celebrating an Anthem's Creation

Associated Press: A New York City firefighter rests in front of a flag on Friday, Sept. 14, 2001 Sunday, September 16, 2001 By Roger Friedman

Celebrating an Anthem's Creation by an American Hero

We almost missed it. Friday was the birthday of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who lived in Georgetown, wrote would become our national anthem during the second year of the War of 1812. It seems only appropriate to remember this weekend that there was a time when the White House was successfully attacked (by the British, no less) and that the country survived and prospered.

Key's composition has proven over the years to be a difficult one to perform. It often shows the true range and abilities of a popular singer to pull it off correctly. Whitney Houston is the only performer in history to have a hit single with it. She took it up the charts back in 1991 when she sang it at the Super Bowl right in the middle of the Gulf War. The song was such a hit that Arista Records was able to donate a half million dollars to the American Red Cross from its profits.

Herewith, a history of Key, the anthem, and a short lesson on the War of 1812:

Francis Scott Key was a respected young lawyer living in Georgetown just west of where the modern day Key Bridge crosses the Potomac River (his house was torn down after years of neglect in 1947). He made his home there from 1804 to around 1833 with his wife Mary and their six sons and five daughters. At the time, Georgetown was a thriving town of 5,000 people just a few miles from the Capitol, the White House, and the Federal buildings of Washington.

But, after war broke out in 1812 over Britain's attempts to regulate American shipping and other activities while Britain was at war with France, all was not tranquil in Georgetown. The British had entered Chesapeake Bay on August 19th, 1814, and by the evening of the 24th of August, the British had invaded and captured Washington. They set fire to the Capitol and the White House, the flames visible 40 miles away in Baltimore.

President James Madison, his wife Dolly, and his Cabinet had already fled to a safer location. Such was their haste to leave that they had had to rip the Stuart portrait of George Washington from the walls without its frame! A thunderstorm at dawn kept the fires from spreading. The next day more buildings were burned and again a thunderstorm dampened the fires. Having done their work the British troops returned to their ships in and around the Chesapeake Bay.

In the days following the attack on Washington, the American forces prepared for the assault on Baltimore (population 40,000) that they knew would come by both land and sea. Word soon reached Francis Scott Key that the British had carried off an elderly and much loved town physician of Upper Marlboro, Dr. William Beanes, and was being held on the British flagship Tonnant. The townsfolk feared that Dr. Beanes would be hanged and asked Key for his help. He agreed and arranged to have Col. John Skinner, an American agent for prisoner exchange to accompany him.

On the morning of September 3rd, he and Col. Skinner set sail from Baltimore aboard a sloop flying a flag of truce approved by President Madison. A few days later they boarded the Tonnant to confer with officers there, who at first refused to release Dr. Beanes. But Key and Skinner produced a pouch of letters written by wounded British prisoners praising the care they were receiving from the Americans, among them Dr. Beanes. The British officers eventually relented.

Now let's go back to the summer of 1813 for a moment. At the star-shaped Fort McHenry, the commander, Maj. George Armistead, asked for a flag so big that "the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance." Two officers were sent to the Baltimore home of Mary Young Pickersgill, a "maker of colors," and commissioned the flag. Mary and her thirteen year old daughter Caroline, working in an upstairs front bedroom, used 400 yards of best quality wool bunting. They cut 15 stars that measured two feet from point to point. Eight red and seven white stripes, each two feet wide, were cut. Laying out the material on the malthouse floor of Claggett's Brewery, a neighborhood establishment, the flag was sewn together. By August it was finished. It measured 30 by 42 feet and cost $405.90. The Baltimore Flag House, a museum, now occupies her premises, which were restored in 1953.

At 7 a.m. on the morning of September 13, 1814, the British bombardment began, and the flag was ready to meet the enemy. The bombardment continued for 25 hours, the British firing 1,500 bombshells that weighed as much as 220 pounds and carried lighted fuses that would supposedly cause it to explode when it reached its target. But they weren't very dependable and often blew up in mid air. The Americans had sunk 22 vessels so a close approach by the British was not possible. But at about 1 a.m. on the 14th, the British fleet roared to life, lighting the rainy night sky with grotesque fireworks.

Key, Col. Skinner, and Dr. Beanes watched the battle with apprehension. They knew that as long as the shelling continued, Fort McHenry had not surrendered. But, before daylight there came a sudden and mysterious silence. What the three Americans did not know was that the British land assault on Baltimore as well as the naval attack, had been abandoned. Judging Baltimore as being too costly a prize, the British officers ordered a retreat.

Waiting in the predawn darkness, Key waited for the sight that would end his anxiety; the joyous sight of the great flag blowing in the breeze. When at last daylight came, the flag was still there!

Being an amateur poet and having been so uniquely inspired, Key began to write on the back of a letter he had in his pocket. Sailing back to Baltimore he composed more lines and in his lodgings at the Indian Queen Hotel he finished the poem Joseph H. Nicholson, his brother-in-law, took it to a printer and copies were circulated around Baltimore under the title "Defense of Fort M'Henry." Two of these copies survive. It was printed in a newspaper for the first time in the Baltimore Patriot on September 20th,1814, then in papers as far away as Georgia and New Hampshire. In October a Baltimore actor sang Key's new song in a public performance and called it "The Star-Spangled Banner".

Immediately popular, it remained just one of several patriotic airs until it was finally adopted as our national anthem on March 3, 1931. But the actual words were not included in the legal documents. Key himself had written several versions with slight variations so discrepancies in the exact wording still occur.

The flag, our beloved Star-Spangled Banner, went on view, for the first time after flying over Fort McHenry, on January 1st,1876 at the Old State House in Philadelphia for the nations' Centennial celebration. It now resides in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History. An opaque curtain shields the now fragile flag from light and dust. The flag is exposed for viewing for a few moments once every hour during museum hours.

Francis Scott Key was a witness to the last enemy fire to fall on Fort McHenry. The Fort was designed by a Frenchman named Jean Foncin and was named for then Secretary of war James McHenry. Fort McHenry holds the unique designation of national monument and historic shrine.

Since May 30th, 1949 the flag has flown continuously, by a Joint Resolution of Congress, over the monument marking the site of Francis Scott Key's birthplace, Terra Rubra Farm, Carroll County, Keymar, Maryland.

The copy that Key wrote in his hotel September 14,1814, remained in the Nicholson family for 93 years. In 1907 it was sold to Henry Walters of Baltimore. In 1934 it was bought at auction in New York from the Walters estate by the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore for $26,400. The Walters Gallery in 1953 sold the manuscript to the Maryland Historical Society for the same price. Another copy that Key made is in the Library of Congress.

[Thanks Lopez]

Star Spangled Banner Re-Release...

[From Launch.com]

Whitney Houston's 'The Star Spangled Banner' To Be Re-released By Arista

(9/14/01, 6 p.m. ET) -- Executives at Whitney Houston's record label, Arista Records, are considering re-releasing her rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner," which the singer recorded 10 years ago during the Gulf War (news - web sites). Houston's version of the national anthem achieved gold status, and reached Number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Proceeds from the sale of the song are expected to benefit the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon (news - web sites), according to published reports. But an Arista Records spokesperson said that she could not confirm any details at press time.

"The Star Spangled Banner," was written on September 13, 1814, by Francis Scott Key, and officially declared the United States's national anthem in 1931.

-- Billy Johnson Jr., Los Angeles



Forgotten Performance...

Much of this week's media speculation about Whitney has failed to acknowledge her outstanding performance at the Michael Jackson tribute concert a week ago.  The following New York Newsday report relating to false stories of Whitney's demise acknowledges just how good she was vocally that night:

No Truth to Rumor Of Houston's Death

By Glenn Gamboa STAFF WRITER
September 14, 2001

Whitney Houston is not dead.

Despite rumors of her demise that roared around the country yesterday, stoked apparently by erroneous radio reports, the singer-actress is alive and well and spending time with her family in New Jersey.

"Whitney thanks everyone for their concern," Arista Records spokeswoman Laura Swanson said. "We're not sure how this all started, but she is very much alive."

Houston, whose string of No. 1 hits includes the record-setting "I Will Always Love You" and "Saving All My Love For You," recently signed a reported $100 million deal to stay with Arista Records.

"Considering all we have to deal with now, it's crazy that we have to deal with this," said Swanson, who works in Arista's New York headquarters.

Speculation about Houston's health began on Saturday, after her Friday night appearance at Michael Jackson's tribute concert at Madison Square Garden. Though she sounded excellent, delivering an exciting version of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" to open the show, she was extremely skinny, so thin that many in the crowd worried about her health.

When she dropped out of the opening number on Monday, the speculation about her health grew. By yesterday afternoon, several radio stations were reporting rumors of her death, which were then relayed across the Internet and by word of mouth.

"People who should know better were calling me asking if it was true," said one Los Angeles music industry executive, who asked not to be named. "This rumor was suddenly popping up everywhere though. Obviously, someone has too much time on their hands."

[Thanks Monte D.]



[From The Hollywood Reporter & Billboard Bulletin]

Houston Denies Rumors Of Death

A flood of rumors that pop singer Whitney Houston is dead as a result of an overdose are not true, her publicist said Thursday morning. Publicist Minda Gohen, of Houston's personal publicity firm Nancy Seltzer and Associates, gave The Hollywood Reporter the following statement: ``Nancy Seltzer has spoken with Whitney this morning and she's fine. There are no problems. Whitney `wishes that people would just focus their attention on what really matters at this moment.' Her heart, thoughts and prayers are with those victims and those who are suffering.''

Gossip of Houston's death spread via phone and e-mail early Thursday morning, but Gohen said they ``have no idea'' where the rumors started. Houston performed in New York City Sept. 7 as part of Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration, but reportedly didn't show up for a performance the following day. (Chris Gardner, Los Angeles)

Platinum Club Statement...

[From Whitney Houston Platinum Club]

Whitney Houston's publicist provided The Whitney Houston Platinum Club with the following statement:


September 13, 2001

Nancy Seltzer (public relations) spoke to Whitney Houston personally this morning. She is fine. She doesn't know how rumors like this can get started at a time like this. Whitney would like everyone to focus their attention on what's really important: Saving lives. Whitney's Houston's heart, thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering.


European Day Of Mourning - 14 September 2001

At 11.00(BST), Friday 14 September 2001, three minutes of silence will be observed in the UK/Europe as a mark of respect for the tragic loss of life in New York and Washington.

Whitney Houston is NOT dead.

It is not clear where this rumour originated but this is not the case at all.  Stories are abound that Whitney died due to an overdose today.  Simply Not True.

Whitney is back home and safe and she was not in Manhattan at the time of the terrorist attacks.


Whitney's Not Dead...

[E-Online Report]

Publicist: Whitney's Not Dead
by Marcus Errico
Sep 13, 2001, 12:30 PM PT

Whitney Houston Is Not--We repeat, Not--Dead.

That's the official word from her publicist's office in the wake of a fast-spreading, radio-fed rumor claiming the R&B diva had died from a drug overdose.

"I've just spoken to Whitney," rep Nancy Seltzer said in a statement Thursday morning. "She is perfectly fine and does not understand why, with everything going on in the world right now, they have to find new rumors to dig up. She is home in New Jersey with her family."

Over the past few hours, E! Online has fielded dozens of phone calls and emails inquiring about Houston's alleged demise. Several correspondents said they heard the news on both New York and Los Angeles radio broadcasts, but we have not been able to find a concrete source for the morbid story.

Houston, 38, has been incognito since a surprise appearance Friday at the first of Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary shows at Madison Square Garden.

The singer brought the house to its feet when she joined Jackson on stage for a version of his "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," but the bigger news was her appearance--she looked extremely gaunt. Variety referred to her as "frightfully emaciated," the New York Daily News called her "skeletal and frail" and ABC.com said she was "scarily skinny."

The gossip-fueled tabloids immediately seized upon this as a sign of a health problem, perhaps an eating disorder. The usual drug rumors--which, though frequently denied, have dogged her for years--also resurfaced.

And when the singer was a no-show for her scheduled turn at Jackson's second concert on Monday, the New York tabloids went into overdrive speculating that something was amiss.

Seltzer, who didn't explain Houston's failure to show up, did deny the singer suffered from an eating disorder. "Whitney has been under stress due to family matters, and when she is under stress, she doesn't eat," Seltzer told the Daily News.

Houston's 40-year-old brother, Michael, was arrested on drug charges last month. He was allegedly found carrying cocaine and marijuana and police say he was under the influence of a controlled substance.

Her brother's arrest came on the same day her husband, Bobby Brown, was rushed to a hospital after he collapsed at their New Jersey home. The attack was blamed on heat exhaustion. The 34-year-old former New Edition-er has admitted to being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.

Houston herself was stopped at a Hawaiian airport in January 2000 after security guards searched her bag and allegedly found marijuana in two plastic baggies and three partially smoked joints. She eventually reached a plea deal with prosecutors (that included fines and a donation to a drug center) and had her record cleared in May.

The Hawaii incident sparked what would become a tabloid-fueled frenzy over Houston's state of health last year. The pot bust--followed by a series of strange incidents and a no-show at the Oscars--led some to speculate that Houston was battling a drug problem.

Not all news has been bad for the singer in recent weeks. Earlier this summer she signed a record $100 million deal to remain with Arista Records.

[Thanks Arunesh]


Sobbing Calls To Whitney's Home...

[Mr Showbiz/ABCNews Report]

Reports of Whitney Houston's Death Denied

Whitney Performed On Friday At Michael Jackson Tribute

Whitney Houston's rep issued a shocked denial today to counter reports that the singer/actress has died.

In a statement, her publicist, Nancy Seltzer, said, "I've just spoken to Whitney. She is perfectly fine and does not understand why, with everything going on in the world right now, they have to find new rumors to dig up. She is home in New Jersey with her family."

Seltzer said people were calling the singer at home and sobbing, after apparently having heard reports of her death over the radio. According to the rumors, Houston had died of a drug overdose.

Fans and the media have speculated about Houston's health after her performance at Friday's Michael Jackson tribute concert at Madison Square Garden, where she appeared shockingly thin, even skeletal. The singer then bowed out of the second night of the concert without explanation, prompting heightened speculation about her health.

Houston has long been rumored to have drug problems, and in Tuesday's edition of the New York Daily News — which was evidently published before horrific terrorist attacks brought the city to a standstill — Seltzer denied fresh reports that her celebrity client was on drugs.

"Whitney has been under stress due to family matters, and when she is under stress, she doesn't eat," Seltzer told the New York tab at the time.

Houston and her husband, singer Bobby Brown, have had a history of drug- and alcohol-related issues, including possession of marijuana charges for Houston in January 2000, which were later dismissed, and a 75-day stint in jail for Brown in 2000, after he violated his probation (stemming from 1996 drunken driving charges).

ABCNEWS.com's Buck Wolf contributed to this story.

— Sharon Knolle


False Rumour...

[From HitsDailyDouble]

WHITNEY HOUSTON HOAX: Arista Records confirms that Whitney Houston is alive and home with her family, according to a label spokesperson in response to a rumor the singer had overdosed that quickly spread across the Net.


Whitney Thanks People For Their Concern...

Houston Spokeswoman Denies Fatal Overdose Rumor

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pop singer Whitney Houston's spokeswoman Thursday denied rumors that the superstar had died of an overdose.

"Whitney Houston is fine. This is a rumor and it's not true. She thanks everyone for their concern. She is fine and at home with her family," spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer said in a statement.

The source of the rumors was unknown. Said an official at Seltzer's office: "It's a very, very bad rumor that happened at a very, very bad time."

Houston, 38, performed during the tribute concert for Michael Jackson last Friday, when observers commented on her seemingly emaciated condition. She did not appear on the second night of the tribute the following Monday.

Houston was charged with marijuana possession after security personnel at an airport in Hawaii allegedly found a small quantity of the drug in her bag in January 2000. A judge later dismissed the charge.

The singer, whose No. 1 hits included "Saving All My Love For You" and "I Will Always Love You," last month signed a rich contract extension at Arista Records, reportedly worth more than $100 million. Arista is a unit of German media giant Bertelsmann AG.


Whitney's Fine/Star Spangled Banner Re-Release...

[From EUR]

Whitney Houston is alive and well. Not the victim of overdose

"No one is checking sources! Whitney is fine."

"This is not a good day, this is not cute this is not funny." Lionel Ridenhour, Executive VP/Arista Records fires off in response to the rumor flying around the country that songstress Whitney Houston died of drug overdose early this (Thursday) morning.

"I was on the phone with LA (LA Reid) when he spoke to her this morning, she is fine."  Ridenhour is so angry he is sputtering.   "People don't have shit else to do right now and everybody is trying to run with things and nobody is checking sources, with all this craziness its easy for some shit like this to take on a life of its own. I'm very disappointed in people because we should be concentrating on the things that are really important right now, like the victims and the families with the tragedies here in New York and Washington."

Whitney is aware of the rumors, and according to a statement, she is fine and at home with her family. 

Maybe it is Whitney's waning appearance, (she seems to be disappearing right before our eyes) which could've be prompted the rumors.

In any case, while the rumors are being 2-wayed, faxed and phoned across the country, Ridenhour says the label and Whitney are negotiating to re-release her soul-stirring rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" (sung and recorded during the Gulf War) with proceeds of the sale going to the Red Cross to aid in the relief of the victims of the tragedy
in New York and Washington.

Here is Arista's official statement:
Whitney Houston is fine. This is a rumor and it's not true. She thanks everyone for their concern. She is fine and at home with her family.

[Thanks Alan M.]


New Performance Photo...

A larger version of the photo first published yesterday of Whitney Houston's outstanding performance of 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'' at the Michael Jackson tribute concert last week.

Whitney Houston Performing At The Michael Jackson Tribute, 7 September 2001
[Click On Image To View In Larger Scale]

[Thanks Sylwia]


Whitney Missing From Last Night's Show...

Whitney Houston did not perform at last night's Michael Jackson tribute concert as originally scheduled.  No word yet as to why she was unable to attend.


Whitney Houston At The First Michael Jackson Tribute Concert

With the world's media making an issue of Whitney's thin appearance at Friday night's Michael Jackson tribute concert, Nancy Seltzer - Whitney's publicist - made the following statement:

"Whitney has been under stress due to family matters, and when she is under stress she doesn't eat."

Whitney has previously commented that she didn't eat during stressful times.




Whitney Houston will take the stage once again tonight in the second and final Michael Jackson tribute concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' Clip...

A very short clip of Whitney Houston performing 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'' at Friday night's Michael Jackson tribute concert can be seen as part of a three minute news report on the ABC News Website.  Outstanding.

The Gown For Whitney...

[From New York Post Fashion Section]

SHOWBUZZ by Jared Paul Stern

Pop Diva Whitney Houston was provided with racks of pricey gowns (over 40, we hear) from stylist Patti Wilson featuring the likes of Lacroix, Gucci, Chanel and Dior from which to make a selection for her appearance at the Michael Jackson blowout at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. But painfully thin Houston pooh-poohed the world- famous designer dresses, opting for a frock by young designer Fausto Puglisi that Wilson also had on hand.

When Houston walked out on stage in the black lace creation with S&M style metal fringes, the crowd, which included Heidi Klum and David LaChappelle, went wild. Jackson whispered in Whitney's ear that she never looked better, our spies say.

[Thanks Andrea]

Whitney: Voice Soaring, Dazzled Crowds...

[Billboard Report]

Stars Honor Michael Jackson In New York

Michael Jackson's 30-year career as solo artist has encompassed everything from the truly brilliant to the utterly bizarre. The same could be said about his star-studded anniversary concert -- a surreal, yet undeniably captivating evening.

Last night's (Sept. 7) concert -- the first of two shows at Madison Square Garden -- marked Jackson's first performance on U.S. soil in more than a decade, during which time he's seen his once-dominant presence on the American music scene decline.

But if there was any doubt about Jackson's star power, it was erased as a capacity crowd -- some of whom had paid up to $2,500 per ticket -- waited anxiously for a glimpse of the King of Pop. Though the night's lineup included the likes of Britney Spears, Destiny's Child, Ray Charles, and Liza Minnelli, it was Jackson who created the most frenzy, even before uttering a single note.

When Jackson made his way to his seat, dressed in a white, glittery jacket with his favorite accessory -- Elizabeth Taylor -- on his arm, he drew crazed screams and applause so intense it drowned out Samuel L. Jackson as he introduced the night's first performance.

The concert kicked off with two of R&B's brightest young stars, Usher and Mya, singing Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" in an extravagant, jungle-themed dance number. Though Usher has modeled himself as Jackson's heir apparent, he lacked the latter's spark, while Mya's lightweight voice could barely be heard over the music.

It wasn't until Whitney Houston burst on stage toward the end, her voice soaring above theirs, that the song began to echo the original vitality in which Jackson sang it. By the time Houston finished, the crowd was dazzled, giving what would be one of several standing ovations of the night.

But from that high, the concert crashed to a low as Marlon Brando took to the stage, his large frame resting on a couch. Though the crowd cheered at just the sight of the Oscar-winning actor, they soon became bewildered as Brando sent the next few minutes mumbling about child poverty, abuse, and disease. "I saw kids in the last stages of starvation, and it was something you didn't want to see," he said.

It was also something the audience didn't want to hear, as boos began to drown Brando out until he said Jackson was donating money to create a children's hospital in Florida. His exit drew another standing ovation.

It was moments like these -- plus extended delays -- that would plague the three-hour-plus concert until Jackson took the stage. For every truly entertaining moment -- Marc Anthony beautifully crooning "She's Out of My Life," or Destiny's Child paying homage to Jackson with their fedora hats and white gloves during "Bootylicious" -- there were truly cringe-inducing moments that made you want to close your eyes until they were over.

One was Minnelli's rendition of Jackson's "You Are Not Alone." Although it may be one of Jackson's more schmaltzy songs, the R. Kelly-penned tune was never meant to endure this kind of treatment, as a frail-looking Minnelli warbled the No. 1 hit cabaret style, with a gospel choir behind her.

Other stars' talents were clearly misused. Al Jarreau was reduced to playing the Tin Man during recreation of scene from "The Wiz," Jackson's only movie role; the performance from Ray Charles and jazz singer Cassandra Wilson seemed out of place and out of sync, given the pop nature of the show. Then there were the videotaped tributes to Jackson, which lauded him as the "greatest," the "most sensitive," the "most successful" ad naseum.

But those moments were temporarily forgotten once Jackson appeared on the stage. Though the sight of him was at times jarring -- his pale, surgically altered face seems incapable of showing much expression anymore -- his presence was formidable.

First performing together with his brothers for the first time since their 1984 Victory tour, he dazzled the audience with each shimmy or yelp. The highlight was the group's performance of "I'll Be There," which showcased Jackson's soulful interpretation of the classic. Even a cameo appearance by 'N Sync during "Dancing Machine" couldn't upstage the electricity of just the brothers performing together.

Then it was time for Jackson to shine, alone. Anyone expecting Jackson to reinvent himself artistically would be disappointed, however: The only new material from Jackson came as he performed his new single, "You Rock My World," the first release from his upcoming Epic album, "Invincible."

For his old hits, he trotted out familiar dance steps, some of which were over two-decades old, performing songs like "Beat It" and "The Way You Make Me Feel," almost identically to the way he had on video years ago.

At times, it seemed as if even Jackson was tired of them, performing them without the full-effort given in the past. Still, as dated as those moves may have seemed, they were still enough to generate chills of excitement. A special highlight was "Billie Jean" -- for which Jackson dusted off his white trademark glove -- which showcased his freestyling, pulsating footwork.

At 43 years of age and with more than three decades in the spotlight, Jackson's act may have gotten a bit familiar, but never stale, with enough dazzle to get the most jaded Jackson critics out of their seats. After Jackson's performance last night, another comeback doesn't seem out of reach.


Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'...

Whitney Performs Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' Whitney Houston pictured during her show-opening performance of 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'' with Usher & Mya

Click Here for 15 Thumbnail Size Images Available Of Whitney's Opening Performance.


Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration...

Michael Jackson celebrates 30th anniversary of solo career with star-studded concert

.c The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - A who's who of the entertainment industry showed up Friday night to honor Michael Jackson and celebrate the 30th anniversary of his solo career.

The concert began nearly an hour late as Jackson - dressed in a white spangled jacket - was escorted to his seat with Elizabeth Taylor. Sitting next to him was Macaulay Culkin, and Jackson's parents, Katherine and Joseph.

The show got off to a rousing start with a dance-packed performance by Usher, Maya and
Whitney Houston, doing ``Wanna Be Startin' Somethin''' from Jackson's 1982 megahit album ``Thriller.''

But only moments later, it took a bizarre turn when Marlon Brando appeared onstage sitting on a couch. He rambled for a couple minutes about child abuse, starvation and disease.

People started to boo until Brando mentioned Jackson's name and said that Jackson was donating money to build a children's hospital in Florida.

The evening got back on track quickly with Billy Gilman's performance of another Jackson hit, ``Ben.''

Liza Minnelli sang Jackson's ``You Are Not Alone'' backed by a choir - then serenaded Jackson with ``Over The Rainbow,'' the signature classic of her mother, Judy Garland.

The crowd grew restless at times during long lulls between performances. But fans erupted in cheers and jumped out of their seats when Jackson joined his brothers to sing a medley of their old hits.

The cheers continued as Jackson brought out his trademark white glove and sang ``Billy Jean,'' then launched into classics like ``Beat It'' and ``Black and White.''

The concert didn't end until just after midnight, when Jackson went on stage by the litany of stars who participated in the concert to sing ``We Are the World.'' The band and chorus, led by Jackson's mentor, Quincy Jones, also sang Jackson's new song, ``You Rock My World.''

On Thursday night, Jackson stole the show at the MTV Video Music Awards by appearing briefly onstage with 'N Sync. And on Friday night, 'N Sync joined the Jacksons and performed.

The first of two heavily hyped concerts in Madison Square Garden had other scheduled appearances or performances by Gladys Knight, Eminem, Destiny's Child, Yoko Ono, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Tucker and Samuel L. Jackson.

``Michael doesn't do nothing small,'' said Rodney Jerkins, who produced much of Jackson's upcoming album, ``Invincible.''

The concerts Friday and Monday night are part of Jackson's attempt to reclaim his King of Pop title after a six-year absence between albums. ``Invincible'' is due out at the end of October; last week, he released ``You Rock My World.''

Tickets for Jackson's show, which CBS intends to air, ranged from $45 to $2,500, and promoters said most sold within hours.

For those with $20,000 or more to spend, there was an after-hours party with Jackson.


First Hand Report...

Monte D. Attended last night's Michael Jackson concert and you can read his report of the show here.

Whitney Houston did not perform solo or duet with Michael Jackson as previously reported she would.

[Thanks Monte]

Contract To Success...

A $100 Million Lifesaver?
Arista president and CEO Antonio "L.A." Reid has signed Whitney Houston to a history-making deal. Is he betting that the move will calm his own turbulent reign?
By Roland S. Martin

[Caption next to separate pictures of Whitney and L.A. Reid:
Mutually beneficial: The Reid-Houston deal may bolster both of their careers.]

Ever since the talented and award-winning producer Antonio "L.A." Reid assumed the top post at Arista Records in July of 2000, critics have wondered less about hits than whether the 45-year-old will be able to keep his job. Reid's appointment came on the heels of an ugly and bruising public battle between the label's founder, Clive Davis, and its owner, BMG Entertainment. A tepid music market--and a couple of homeruns by Davis' new label, J Records, including blazing newcomer Alicia Keys--conspired against Reid during the early months of his tenure. But in August, Reid fired back with a stunning move, signing Whitney Houston, Arista's gem, to a record-breaking $100 million, multi-record deal that includes two greatest-hits albums. Pure genius, or desperation?

To his credit, Reid is one of the keenest arbiters of talent in the music industry. During his reign as co-founder and co-president of LaFace Records, the label garnered 33 No. 1 singles and three Grammys for Arista acts such as Toni Braxton, TLC, and Babyface. Yet his task at Arista is more daunting than anything he encountered at LaFace. Reid's appointment at Arista prompted a revolving door of executives at the label's New York headquarters. Moreover, BMG execs are pressuring him to yield heftier profits, even while Arista is still reeling from the multimillion-dollar settlement paid to Davis upon his departure from the company and the loss of key talent that followed him.

Clearly, Reid has his hands full. Yet he scoffs at his detractors, saying he doesn't waste time reading reports of his impending demise and that the only pressure he faces is self-inflicted. "I've had over 100 hit records. My competition is me. Look at the charts," he told SAVOY in response to speculation about his downfall. "We make a lot of hits. We just released Blu Cantrell. We have Usher. We sold 8 million Dido records this year. We sold 5 million Outkast records this year. So the company's in great shape. People will say what they say, but I can't really get into it."

However, the constant criticism appears to be getting under Reid's skin. After Billboard published an Aug. 4 review of Cantrell's debut album that mentioned industry's pundits' uncertainty of Reid's "staying power," he fired off a letter to the editor chastising the magazine and defending himself. In the letter, Reid called the article "disturbing," because of a "clear and present intention to degrade my credibility and attempt to force me from Arista records." He added that such "yellow journalism, innuendo, and blatant false gossip" are unacceptable from the "bible" of the music industry. A spokeswoman for Arista defended Reid's action. "It is certainly not unusual for a label executive to send a letter to the editor in response to an unfair or obviously slanted review, feature or profile," says Arista's Laura Swanson.

As for the numerous executive-level changes, Reid says: "The thing that really is troublesome to me is that no one has focused on the fact that we've [given] a lot of young, talented people new opportunities that maybe didn't exist before." As this issue went to press, Reid emphasized that his primary goals were to increase Arista's market share and unearth new trends and talent that can strike gold--just as Whitney Houston once did. Certainly he's banking she'll do it again.

Roland Martin is news editor of SAVOY.

[Thanks Gretchen]


MTV Award Shortlist For Classic Whitney...

Classic Whitney is up for an award yet again!  This time, the site has been shortlisted for the Best UK Fansite Award by MTV.

Please take a moment to vote for Classic Whitney Here.





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