Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis and Mary J. Blige officially kicked off the holidays in New York on Wednesday night (04Dec13) by performing at the 81st annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center celebration. Brit Lewis got the show under the big tree in Manhattan started with her rendition of Wizzard's I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day, while other highlights included pregnant Clarkson's take on Billy Hayes and Jay W. Johnson's Blue Christmas, which has been recorded by Dean Martin, Willie Nelson and Elvis Presley, among others, Blige's jazzy cover of The Christmas Song and Mariah Carey's upbeat take on Joy to the World.
It was mostly an all-girls festive celebration with other appearances by Ariana Grande, Ashanti, Jewel and Lauren Alaina, while rockers the Goo Goo Dolls represented the men at the tree lighting ceremony.
Singer Morrissey has been snubbed by a leading Norwegian official and banned from a party following the Nobel Peace Prize Concert later this month (Dec13). The former The Smiths star has sparked furore in the country after it was announced he will be performing at the prestigious show less than three years after he caused a storm with his controversial comments about the Utoya massacre.
Many critics and officials have expressed anger that he is on the bill, and now the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang, has let his feelings be known by refusing to invite Morrissey to an aftershow party.
All other artists performing at the concert - including Mary J. Blige, James Blunt, and Jake Bugg - have been told they are welcome to attend the event, but Morrissey has been blacklisted by Stang.
The politician announced he was taking a stand after the singer described the 2011 massacre in Norway - in which 77 people were killed - as "nothing compared to what happens" in the meat industry.
Stang tells Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, "The seriousness of comparing our nation's tragedy to flipping burgers makes it difficult for me to be accommodating, even though his job is to sing, not talk."
The concert is due to take place in Oslo on 11 December (13).
Morrissey and Jake Bugg have joined Mary J. Blige and James Blunt on the bill at the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway on 11 December (13). The concert, which traditionally takes place the day after the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, will be hosted by actress Claire Danes. Morrissey will reportedly perform three tracks at the prestigious show.
Gwyneth Paltrow hosted a festive charity dinner in London on Monday night (25Nov13) to raise money for underprivileged kids. The Iron Man star teamed up with fashion designer Matthew Williamson to host the event at Aqua Shard to bring in money for the Kids Company organisation.
The event featured a Christmas tree decorated with baubles specially designed by stars including actress Sienna Miller and singer Mary J. Blige.
The sparkly ornaments will be auctioned off to raise money for the cause.
After the event, Paltrow took to her Twitter.com page to thank Williamson for his help, writing, "Thank you Matthew Williamson for supporting Kids Company UK."
Mary J. Blige used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of her personal life at the beginning of her career, revealing she was "spinning" out of control. The Family Affair singer is now clean and sober and even gave up the occasional glass of champagne following her friend Whitney Houston's death - but there was a time she was "struggling to survive" as she tried to balance her professional career with her out-of-control personal life.
In a candid new interview with the BBC, she explains, "I was singing for my life. I was singing to get my family out of the projects. I can't really say I was having fun... All I remember was being onstage, singing hard and moving fast.
"Early on, I don't remember what was going on... I was just there singing. Everything was wrong. There was no support; I was a deer in the headlights. I was just spinning and trying to survive.
"That included everything - alcohol, drugs, anything to keep myself numb from seeing what the truth was, which is nobody cared."
Mary J. Blige was shocked into sobriety following the sudden death of fellow R&B superstar Whitney Houston last year (Feb12), revealing she was "crushed" by the unexpected loss of her friend. The Real Love hitmaker, who battled drug addiction during her youth, reveals the tragedy forced her to re-evaluate her lifestyle, prompting her to quit boozing and adopt a healthier diet in an effort to avoid a similar demise.
She tells Shape magazine, "Others may be able to drink and have a great time, but it doesn't work for me at this point. I haven't had a drink in a year and three months. I had quit for a long time but started again about five years ago. I'm off it completely once more, and now I feel stronger than ever.
"Whitney Houston's death really crushed me. I saw someone so incredibly talented just diminish, and I refuse to go out like that!"
Blige shows off her new bikini body on the cover of the magazine and credits her trainer, J.R. Allen, and a strict work-out plan for her toned physique.
As part of her exercise routine, Blige has also achieved her lifelong goal of learning how to swim.
She explains, "I never swam as a kid and that always bothered me. At first, it was very hard, but once I got in the water and figured out how to breathe, it was so liberating. Now it's helping me with every aspect of my life - personally and professionally. Conquering that fear was a huge boost to my confidence. I'm as proud of this accomplishment as I would be if I had graduated from college, which I never got to do."
And Blige is more than happy with the results of her hard work: "I had an 'aha!' moment recently after a swim. I was walking by a mirror and I saw my abs, and they were crazy toned, and my arms looked unbelievable - in a good way, I was thrilled and so proud of myself... When I'm fit, I can conquer the world. I love the way I look and feel right now and I am truly comfortable in my own skin."
Houston died in her hotel bathtub in February, 2012. Her passing was ruled an accidental drowning, combined with the effects of heart disease and cocaine use.
Mary J. Blige, Grace Jones and Boy George rubbed shoulders with the fashion crowd in London on Tuesday (19Nov13) at the launch of an exhibition in honour of tragic style journalist Isabella Blow. The stars descended on the U.K. capital's Somerset House, where Blow's outlandish outfits are on display.
The collection was purchased by socialite Daphne Guinness after the style icon's suicide in 2007, and heavily features pieces by her protegee Alexander McQueen, who also took his own life in 2010.
Guinness says, "The decision to put Isabella's wardrobe on display was a natural progression; it felt like what she would have wanted. I bought the collection because I couldn't bear for it to be dispersed; it was her life's work - her legacy. What better way of celebrating that legacy than allowing the world to view it?"
British royal Princess Beatrice, designer Jasper Conran, model Liberty Ross and Bond girl Gemma Arterton also attended the glamorous launch event. The exhibition runs until March (14).
Mary J. Blige and James Blunt will make an unlikely double act at the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway on 11 December (13). The two stars will join 15-year old Swedish singer Zara Larsson and Norwegian hip-hop duo Envy at the Oslo event, which will be hosted by actress Claire Danes.
The concert, which traditionally takes place the day after the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, was headlined by Kylie Minogue, Ne-Yo, Seal and Jennifer Hudson in 2012.
The 2013 recipients of the prize are the officials of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is overseeing the disarmament effort in Syria.
Mary J. Blige has accused music industry bosses of making money from misery, insisting they fail to protect stars struggling to deal with fame and fortune. The No More Drama singer has opened up about the loss of pop icons Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, lashing out at those behind the scenes who should have helped guide them through superstardom.
She also claims her own team stood by and watched when she sunk into alcoholism and depression in the 1990s - because she was making them a fortune in album sales.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Blige says, "She (Whitney) was such a gift from God, such a star - her voice was like no other. Same with Michael Jackson: two such amazing gifts. And no one was there for them.
"You have thousands of people around you because you're this big star, but no one around you really cares. I saw a tragic situation coming for me and I looked around and saw that nobody cared, not really.
"They were happy for me to suffer, to drink myself to death, as long as they were getting what they needed. The industry makes its money on people's demise.
"The way I was living, I should have been dead... All the money and fame in the world couldn't change what was going on in my heart. That's how messed up I was, and how depressed I was. I was drinking, I was doing drugs, so I couldn't even feel or see anything, and that made it alright for the moment, until I had to come down and look for some more."
Mary J. Blige got baseball's World Series underway by performing America's National Anthem at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts on Wednesday evening (23Oct13). Blige was an odd choice for the honour as she's a die-hard fan of the Boston Red Sox's rivals the New York Yankees. James Taylor will sing the Star-Spangled Banner before Thursday night's (24Oct13) game between the Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals.
He says, "It's hard to believe for a Red Sox fan that we're actually going back to the World Series... I guess the message is that Sox fans can never give up hope despite the roller coaster we're usually on."