Sound Bites: Prince, Ray Charles, System of a Down

Prince Offers 'The Work' for Free

Prince will become one of the most prominent recording artists to embrace Napster when he releases "The Work — Part 1" through the popular song-swap service on Friday. He said Monday that he is allowing users to share the song free of charge in order to promote his own subscription service. "Napster is just one illustration of the growing frustration over how much the record companies control what music people get to hear," Prince said in a statement yesterday. Prince, who has had bitter relationships with former labels, plans to independently release The Rainbow Children later this year.

Company Pursues Ray Charles Biopic

Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Story, a biographical feature about the influential soul singer, has taken a big step forward with Crusader Entertainment acquiring the rights to Charles' story, according to Variety. Production is slated for this fall, though actors (aside from Charles himself, who will make an appearance in the film) and a director have not yet been named. Charles, born in Georgia in 1930, went blind from glaucoma at age 7. He has won 10 Grammy Awards, scored more than 30 Top 40 singles, and sold more than 100 million albums throughout an influential career as a pianist, singer, and bandleader.

Rock Singer Offers Book of Poetry

System of a Down singer Serj Tankian has penned a book of poetry, Cool Gardens, which he's selling through his newly launched Web site, serjicalstrike.com. The 96-page book, which saw an initial press run of 5,000 copies, is available for $15. Tankian chose the title, he says, because "I love the thought of spending my life walking around surrounded by cool gardens." The site will also release discs from bands that Tankian feels are underexposed, including Bad Acid Trip, Kittens for Christian, and Big Elf.

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