Relatives of the late music icon Nina Simone are deeply upset over the casting of actress Zoe Saldana as Simone in the forthcoming biopic Nina. A first trailer has been released for the film, which opens on April 22, and many fans were taken aback to see that makeup was applied to darken the skin of Saldana (a black American woman of Caribbean descent) and make her more closely resemble Simone. In response to the family’s criticism, Robert L. Johnson — the founder of BET and owner of the company that will distribute Nina to theaters — said, “Zoe Saldana delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone […] The most important thing is that creativity or quality of performance should never be judged on the basis of color, or ethnicity, or physical likeness.” (Billboard)
Surprise! Kendrick Lamar dropped a new album on Thursday night. Untitled Unmastered comprises eight tracks, two of which Lamar has recently performed on late-night TV. (Rolling Stone)
Brit Awards respond to criticism
Ged Doherty, head of the Brit Awards, has responded to charges that the awards don’t reflect the UK’s diversity. After artists including Lily Allen and Marina Diamandis (Marina and the Diamonds) criticized the awards, which inspired the hashtag #BritsSoWhite, Doherty replied that the Brits Voting Academy is “taking steps to ensure that, ahead of 2017, the Academy will, wherever possible, have equal male/female representation and at least 15 per cent BAME [Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic] participation, in line with national trends, as well as being more diverse with regard to age and regionality, so that it can be more truly representative of modern British music.” (Billboard)
Today’s tribute album news
The Duluth Does Dylan album series, in which Zenith City artists cover songs by native son Bob Dylan, will have a fourth installment. An Indiegogo campaign is seeking $13,000 to fund a new collection featuring performances by Dave Simonett, Actual Wolf, The Murder of Crows (Alan Sparhawk and Gaelynn Lea), and more. (Duluth News Tribune)
A new Elliott Smith tribute album will feature covers by Juliana Hatfield, Waxahatchee, J Mascis, Amanda Palmer, and more. Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith will be released Oct. 14. (Pitchfork)
Turtles poke their heads out again
The Turtles will return to the Minnesota State Fair once again this year with their 2016 “Happy Together” nostalgia tour, a Grandstand mainstay. Bonnie Raitt has also been added to this year’s Grandstand lineup.
Kristin Welchez of Dum Dum Girls has announced a forthcoming album by her solo project Kristin Kontrol. X-Communicate, which Welchez describes as “very poppy, classic ’80s,” will be out May 27. (Pitchfork)
Speaking of the ’80s…
Duran Duran have shared a behind-the-scenes clip from their sessions recording Paper Gods (2015) with producer Nile Rodgers. Rodgers and his band Chic are headed out on tour with Duran Duran this summer; the tour stops at the Xcel Energy Center on July 23. (Rolling Stone)
…and let’s not forget the ’70s.
Bad Company and Joe Walsh have announced a co-headlining “One Hell of a Night Tour” that will cross North America this summer. There aren’t any Minnesota stops, but they’ll be in Chicago on June 23. (Rolling Stone)
Should we title this one “Yoda Don’t Bring Me Flowers” or “Princess of Tides”? Or “Hello Daisy”? Or “A Star Wars is Born”? Or “The Mirror Has Two Forces”? Or “The Rey We Were”?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley has been in a recording studio with Barbra Streisand. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. (Billboard)
Phish feel the Bern
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders appreciates the support of his favorite local jam band. After Phish drummer Jon Fishman voiced his support for Sanders’s presidential bid, the senator called Phish “one of the great bands in this country.” (Rolling Stone)
Did you hear the one about Prince walking into a basketball game?
Prince, who’s in California for a few Oakland shows this week, showed up at Oracle Arena (a venue he’ll play on Friday night) to watch the Golden State Warriors take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. (Fansided)
— SERPAN99 (@serpan99) March 4, 2016