Plus, The Stereo MC's are back, and more

By Rob Brunner
March 19, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Janet Jackson: Frank Micelotta/Image Direct

R-E-S-P-E-C-T This year’s VH1 Divas Live special (April 10 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall) is a tribute to Aretha Franklin, with Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige among those set to perform with her. Janet Jackson will also appear, although it’s unclear if she’ll sing. ”’Divas’ is a real singers’ show,” says exec producer Lauren Zalaznick. ”It’s not about dance performances or synthesizers. It’s about the women’s voices.” And their hairdos.

RE-”CONNECTED” The trailer for the upcoming Johnny Depp movie ”Blow” features ”Connected,” the great single from one hit Brits Stereo MC’s, who disappeared after their smash third album, ”Connected,” in 1993. ”It’s hard to explain what happened,” says MC’s frontman Rob Birch, who’s been running Response Records and publishing company Spirit Songs when not remixing for the likes of Madonna and U2. ”I think I went a bit loopy. I got into religion and s— like that, natural earth kind of stuff. But I didn’t find what made me feel like I had a reason for being, you know?” Not exactly, but apparently he’s figured it out: The MC’s have completed a new album, ”Deep Down & Dirty,” due in June. ”Sometimes you gotta figure out the one thing that drives you,” says Birch. ”Really, it’s music.”

CELT FIGURE It’s been almost 10 years since Peter Gabriel’s last studio pop album. What’s up? ”Up,” actually. That’s the title of a new CD he’s been tinkering with for five years, now due in 2002. ”I’m past wanting to rush things out,” Gabriel says. ”I’ll put it out when I’m ready. It’s a work of pleasure, not a career move.” In the meantime, fans can hear him on ”When You’re Falling,” a track on ”Further in Time,” the new album from Afro Celt Sound System (June 19). The brainchild of Simon Emmerson, ACSS is a smooth blend of Irish and African sounds. ”There’s a spirited quality to both musics,” says Gabriel. ”It’s a natural fit. I don’t understand why, but when it works, it works.”