May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Lilith Bill-eth
In Lilith Fair’s first two years, some hammered the femme-headliner tour for lacking diversity. But the fest’s third and (they swear) final summer should result in fewer digs: R&B and country, in particular, will be better represented. ”There are some [cities] where the show has the potential to be Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks, and Queen Latifah. That’s a pretty good curveball to me,” says Marty Diamond, who cofounded Lilith with Sarah McLachlan.

Other curves along the 40-city tour (kicking off July 8 in Vancouver) include Monica, the Pretenders, Deborah Cox, Liz Phair, Luscious Jackson, Beth Orton, Cibo Matto, Martina McBride, and Mya. Organizers are still negotiating for dates with Hole, Lauryn Hill, and Shakira. (They were turned down by Garbage, Alanis Morissette, and — forsaking the sisterhood? — ’97 alumna Jewel.)

Diversity isn’t Lilith’s only timely angle. Diamond figures ”with CSNY and Paul Simon and Bob Dylan out there for a kabillion bucks and all these people trying to bilk the public,” $35-45 ducats augur a hot draw. ”It doesn’t sound sexy, but in this day and age, affordability is very sexy.”

Spanish flies
With Ricky Martin’s explosive English-language single ”Livin’ La Vida Loca” near the top of the charts, the time may be nigh for a Latin-music crossover. And if you’re related to late Tejano superstar Selena — well, all the better. Both Selena’s brother, A.B. Quintanilla, and her widower, Chris Perez, are making bids for stardom: Quintanilla’s band Los Kumbia Kings released Amor, Familia y Respeto on March 23, while the Chris Perez Band’s Resurrection is due May 18. Unlike Amor, Perez’s album features songs in English and Spanish for maximum multiethnic appeal. ”Ricky Martin’s definitely opening doors,” says Perez, ”but we’ve been working on our album for, like, a year, so I don’t want people to think we’re just jumping on a bandwagon.” On the other hand, he’d have to be loco not to want to hitch a ride: ”Hey — it’s a good time to cross over.” Si, senor.

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