x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Benson wants to work with Usher

Plus: Jessie J loves her new look; Amazon lets fans write their takes on their favourite books; Blake Shelton to headline Oklahoma relief concert; and Help for Heroes gets Mirren's backing.

George Benson. Reuters
George Benson. Reuters

Benson wants to work with Usher

George Benson wants to collaborate with “that kid” Usher. Speaking to a packed press conference as part of the Mawazine Festival in Morocco on Saturday, Benson said he is fond of the OMG pop star. “He is someone I would like to work with,” he said. “He is versatile, sophisticated and has a good mind.” Benson also said the jazz and pop world is rapidly changing, with more female talent on offer. “I am telling you, man, the ladies are taking over,” he said. “There are so many beautiful voices coming up now and it is good to have that balance.” – The National staff

• Look out for our interview with the jazz legend soon in Arts&Life

Jessie J loves her new look

The 25-year-old British pop star Jesse J made headlines in March after shaving off her raven black hair for comic relief. Cementing the new image, the The Voice UK judge then dyed what was left blonde. “I like it a lot, actually,” she said. “It was obviously a bit different at first and me getting used to it but now it works really well. For instance, I don’t spend too much time getting ready for events now.” The singer, speaking from the Mawazine Festival in Morocco, will bring out her second album later in the year. “It’s the truest reflection of me,” she said. “That’s all I really want to say – I want to maintain some secrecy around it for the fans to be surprised.” – The National staff

Amazon lets fans write their takes on their favourite books

Amazon is once again shaking up traditional publishing models. This time, it’s giving fans a chance to add their own personal touches to their favourite fiction – and get paid in the process. This week, Amazon.com Inc announced Kindle Worlds, which offers aspiring writers an opportunity to pen their own takes on franchises in books, TV, movies, games and comics. The world’s largest retailer on the internet plans to license content, then accept submissions online that may be sold through its Kindle ebook store. Things will kick off with Amazon licensing three teen TV series – Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries – from Warner Bros Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment, Amazon said on its website. – Reuters

Blake Shelton to headline Oklahoma relief concert

Oklahoma country singer Blake Shelton, 36, said he will headline a concert to benefit the victims of the Oklahoma tornado that swept through the city of Moore earlier this week, leaving 24 dead and thousands homeless. The Healing in the Heartland: Relief Benefit Concert will be held on Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Shelton has also recruited the Grammy-winning country stars Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Miranda Lambert (Shelton’s wife) to perform. It will raise money for the United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund. McEntire and Gill are also Oklahoma natives. “Everyone has their way to help; mine, as an entertainer, is to perform to help raise money and awareness for this tragedy. This is why I want to do this special and especially hold it in Oklahoma City, which is near ‘ground zero’,” Shelton said in a statement. – Reuters

Help for Heroes gets Mirren’s backing

Actress Helen Mirren has urged people to back a military support charity after a soldier was brutally murdered in London on Wednesday. When he was killed, Lee Rigby, an army drummer, was wearing a T-shirt promoting Help For Heroes, a charity for troops injured in conflict and war. The Queen star wore a similar shirt for a photocall and urged her fans to join in support of the organisation. “The young man who died ... was showing where his heart lay by wearing his Help For Heroes shirt. It was monstrous that he should be killed for that. I think Help For Heroes is a fantastic organisation – it is a charity that does amazing work. This attack won’t stop that and, hopefully, Help For Heroes will just get stronger,” Mirren told The Sun newspaper. – IANS

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