Sep 19, 2017 Last Updated 8:40 AM, Sep 19, 2017
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Don Williams, an award-winning country singer with love ballads like "I Believe in You," has died. He was 78.

A statement from his publicist Kirt Webster said he died Friday after a short illness.

Williams had 17 No. 1 hits before retiring in 2016. His mellow sound influenced a later generation of singers including Joe Nichols and Josh Turner and Keith Urban has said Williams drew him to country music.

Williams, nicknamed "the Gentle Giant," had a rich voice, gentle delivery and storytelling style. He toured sparingly, did few media interviews and spent much of his time on his farm west of Nashville.

"It's one of those blessings and curses kind of things," Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1994."If you have the talent, it's a blessing. But there's times that ... a lot of the prices that you have to pay to be a part of it is a curse. But as far as ... the way people have responded to what I've done, there's very few things in my life that I've done that come anywhere close to making you feel exhilarated and humbled and fulfilled and challenged and all that, all at the same time."

His hits included "I Believe in You," ''Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good," ''You're My Best Friend," ''Some Broken Hearts Never Mend," ''Till the Rivers All Run Dry" and "Back in My Younger Days." At least one duet with Emmylou Harris made the charts, "If I Needed You" in 1981.

He was also popular overseas, touring in Europe and Africa and charting on British charts. Eric Clapton recorded his "We're More Than Friends" and Pete Townshend redid his "Til the Rivers All Run Dry."

"Don Williams offered calm, beauty, and a sense of wistful peace that is in short supply these days," said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, in a statement Friday. "His music will forever be a balm in troublesome times. Everyone who makes country music with grace, intelligence, and ageless intent will do so while standing on the shoulders of this gentle giant."

He won the Country Music Association's awards for best male vocalist and best single for "Tulsa Time" in 1978.

During his performances, he often walked onstage carrying a cup of coffee, sat on a barstool, sang and chatted amiably with the audience.

Williams also appeared in the movies "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" and "Smokey and the Bandit II."

For the third consecutive weekend "The Hitman’s Bodyguard" was the top film in North American box offices, but the cinematic scene remained deep in the summer doldrums, website Exhibitor Relations reported Sunday.

The US Labor Day weekend was shaping up to be the worst in 17 years, industry watchers said, noting the lack of any major new releases. But Lionsgate's "Hitman" managed to take in an estimated $10.3 million(R133.33 million) for the Friday-to-Sunday period, the only movie this summer to cling to the top for three straight weeks. 

The action comedy, starring Ryan Reynolds as a bodyguard protecting a notorious hitman (Samuel L. Jackson), outperformed Warner Bros.'s horror film "Annabelle: Creation" for the second straight week.

"Annabelle," part of the popular "Conjuring" franchise of movies, took in $7.3 million, giving it a shot at passing the $100 million mark domestically, website boxofficemojo said.

Crime thriller "Wind River" from Weinstein Co. came in third, taking in an estimated $5.9 million, up from the previous week's $4.4 million. It stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as federal agents trying to solve a murder on an Indian reservation.

In fourth, also from the Weinstein brothers, was the animated family picture "Leap!" about a young orphan, voiced by Elle Fanning, who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer in 19th century Paris. It netted $4.9 million.

Staying steady at fifth was Steven Soderbergh's droll action film "Logan Lucky," which for the second straight week netted $4.4 million. It stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Riley Keough in an unconventional heist comedy set at a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Rounding out the top 10 were:

"Dunkirk" ($4.1 million)

"Spider-Man: Homecoming" ($3.7 million)

"The Emoji Movie" ($2.5 million)

"Despicable Me 3" ($2.4 million)

"Girls Trip" ($2.3 million)

South African gospel star Sipho Makhabane will next month perform at the Bingu International Conference Center (BICC) in Lilongwe, during the website launch of the Great Angels Choir.

The choir came into the lime light following the release of their Gwireni Dzanja Album which made them a fortune.

Currently, the Choir is still reaping the fruits of their recent album, Mwasankha ine which is also enjoying massive airplay.

Makhabane confirmed the news through a 35 second video posted on his Facebook page on his coming show at the BICC.

He has promised to bring his seven-man band and he is expected to perform for three hours.

Last year the musician failed to perform after his scheduled show was cancelled.

According to media reports the show was cancelled as organisers did not pay for the venue the live concert was supposed to take place and angry fans went back home without seeing their favourite artist perform.

The concert was organised as part of celebrations for 5th and official launch of the 50th edition of the National Product Magazine whose Managing Director is Steve Chinyamula.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar on Sunday won MTV's Video of the Year for "HUMBLE.," his ironic take on fame and fortune, as he became the big winner of the channel's awards.

Lamar, one of the most acclaimed rappers of his time, also took Best Hip-Hop Video and technical awards for the video to the song, in which he is depicted as everything from the pope to Jesus during "The Last Supper."

The track appears on Lamar's latest album "DAMN.," on which he turned to a more traditional hip-hop sound after the jazz experimentation of his previous work, "To Pimp a Butterfly."

Lamar opened the Video Music Awards in Los Angeles in fiery form with "HUMBLE.," on a martial arts-themed set that ended with dancers dressed like ninjas climbing a fence on fire.

Other winners include Ed Sheeran as Artist of the Year, Khalid as Best New Artist, and Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane as Best Pop Video for "Down".

The evening had a political tone. The late Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris Jackson, who presented the award for best pop video, made a statement about the violence between right-wing and antifa protestors

"Let's leave here tonight remembering that we must show these Nazi, white supremacist jerks in Charlottesville and all over the country that as a nation with 'liberty' as our slogan, we have zero tolerance for their violence, their hatred and their discrimination," she said. "We must resist."

Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed in Charlottesville while marching against neo-Nazis also addressed the audience. 

Taylor Swift announced a new album titled "Reputation" on Wednesday, just over a week after scoring a court victory at a high-profile groping trial in Colorado.

The singer made the announcement in a series of Instagram images, including a possible album cover featuring a black and white illustration of Swift with newspaper-style headlines overlapping part of her face.

The album will be released on 10 November and the first single will debut on Thursday.

Swift ended a six month absence from the public spotlight to deliver unflinching testimony against a radio DJ in a Denver court earlier this month.

She was awarded the symbolic $1 in damages that she had sought after a federal jury in Denver found a radio DJ had grabbed heer bottomwhile posing for a photo with her in 2013.

The singer, one of the most followed people on social media, followed her court victory by deleting posts from Instagram, Twitter and removing her avatar from her Facebook page, sending fans into a frenzy speculating about whether Swift had been hacked or was preparing to launch new music or reinvent herself.

"Reputation" follows Swift's 2014 best-selling album "1989."

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