- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008

Honor for Les Paul

Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will pay tribute to Les Paul, the “father of the electric guitar,” at the annual American Music Masters series, a weeklong event that begins Nov. 10, officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Paul, 93, still performs weekly at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City and hopes to attend the ceremony, Associated Press reports. He was inducted into the hall of fame’s early-influence category in 1988, but the new award is a notch higher.

Terry Stewart, president and chief executive of the hall of fame, said Mr. Paul “has become an idol and an icon to people in the rock world as well as people in jazz and popular music.”

Mr. Paul began playing guitar as a child. As a jazz-pop musician, he recorded hits such as “How High the Moon” with his wife, singer Colleen Summers, better known as Mary Ford. They divorced in 1964; she died in 1977.

Toast

Eminent Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava told Spain’s top-selling daily, El Pais, he regrets that his controversial new bridge over Venice’s Grand Canal will not have a grand opening but only a simple toast.

“This is my most beautiful bridge. I regret that the workers, who worked so hard on it, will not have an adequate inauguration,” El Pais quoted him Wednesday as saying, according to Agence France-Presse.

The bridge, a single arching span of steel and glass, was to have been opened Sept. 18 by the president of Italy, but on Tuesday, Venice’s Mayor Massimo Cacciari canceled the grand ceremony because of fierce criticism that the bridge was unnecessary, unsuitable and four times over budget.

“Before the project was approved, it was on display for one year in the Piazza of San Marco without receiving any criticism,” Mr. Calatrava said.

Beyond ‘Bandstand’

Steveland Morris was 12 when he wowed national TV audiences on such shows as Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” He has continued to wow people since then, better known as Stevie Wonder, a name he says someone at Motown Records devised.

Come February, the Library of Congress will honor Mr. Wonder, 58, with its second Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The prize honors an artist whose work transcends musical styles to bring diverse listeners together and foster mutual understanding, said James Billington, the librarian of Congress, in announcing the prize on Tuesday.

The first Gershwin Prize was awarded in 2007 to Paul Simon.

Mr. Wonder’s hits include “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” “My Cherie Amour” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.”

For ladies only

The R&B; singer Usher revealed in an AP interview that he will soon announce details of his One Night Stand tour. He said specific dates are still being worked out for about 15 “intimate” venues.

Asked why he wanted to perform a “ladies only” tour, Usher said he relishes the challenge. “There’s only a few artists that can pull that off,” the 29-year-old singer said. “This album, I felt like, was definitely the type of one that was more intimate. So what better way to get up close and personal than to make it all women?”

Usher’s latest album, “Here I Stand,” finds him still singing about the life of a lothario but more mature. Now married and a father, Usher hasn’t relinquished his sex-symbol status. “The ladies like to see that masculine build,” he says. “They question if I still got it.”

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