MUSICIANS RESPOND TO FLOYD DEATH WITH NEW SONGS

NEW YORK (AP) — After watching the video of George Floyd dying as a police officer pressed a knee on his neck, Trey Songz said he couldn’t sleep — and went to his studio to record a new song. He says the words came quickly, but he was so upset, he couldn’t sing them. He finally has — and the result is “2020 Riots: How Many Times,” released Friday. Other musicians have dropped songs in the past week in the wake of Floyd’s death and those of other unarmed blacks. Among the artists who have crafted new tunes on police brutality and racism are Meek Mill, Kane Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Terrace Martin and Run the Jewels.

MUSICAL PERFORMANCES HIGHLIGHT ONLINE GRADUATION

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Before yesterday, not many people could say they had a three-time Grammy winner play “Pomp and Circumstance” to open their graduation ceremony. But Lizzo provided the tune for untold numbers of grads at yesterday’s online commencement for those who saw their in-person graduations scuttled by the coronavirus pandemic. She had backup; as she performed on the flute, she was joined by the New York Philharmonic. Another musical highlight was a performance by Cynthia Erivo, Camila Cabello, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Ty Dolla $ign, and others — on the U2 song “Beautiful Day.”

J.K. ROWLING GETS ONLINE BLOWBACK OVER TRANSGENDER TWEETS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As author of the wildly popular “Harry Potter” series, J.K. Rowling is used to her writings being well received. But her most recent ones haven’t been as welcomed. GLAAD is among the rights groups blasting Rowling for recent tweets about transgender people and biological sex. In part of one comment, she writes, “I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” One Harry Potter fan group has tweeted its disapproval — and urged its followers to donate to causes that support transgender women. Rowling’s reps have been asked for comment on the growing controversy — but have yet to respond.

PRINCE ANDREW TO BE INVESTIGATED IN EPSTEIN PROBE

LONDON (AP) — Attorneys representing Britain’s Prince Andrew are confirming that their client is being investigated by American officials over his ties to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. But they say they’ve been assured by the Justice Department that Andrew isn’t a target of the probe. The two sides continue to spar over the level of help from Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth II. His law firm says he offered three times to assist in the investigation of Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking of underage girls. But a federal prosecutor is quoted as saying Andrew has provided “zero cooperation.” A woman claims Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001, when she was just 17. Andrew denies it.

by Oscar Wells Gabriel II