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Image Courtesy RCA/Saccenti(NEW ORLEANS) -- When Usher closed out Saturday night's concerts at the Essence Music Festival 2015 in the New Orleans' Superdome, he wanted to make a statement. After all, it was the Fourth of July, the day when America celebrates its Independence. 

The R&B crooner wore a black leather jacket with the words, "Have we really achieved our independence," written on the back in white lettering. And after he performed songs such as "OMG," "Climax," and "Here I Stand," he eventually took his jacket off to reveal another message on his T-shirt. The words "Fourth of July" were crossed out and another word stood prominently underneath: "Juneteenth."

Juneteenth is also known as Freedom Day for African-Americans and celebrates the abolition of slavery in the Confederate south. However, it's typically celebrated on June 19.

Along with his statements, Usher also put on a good set. The Atlanta-bred singer performed "Nice & Slow," "Love in the Club," "Yeah!" and "Matrimony," during which he brought out rapper Wale.

The Essence Music Festival continues Sunday night with concerts, featuring Floetry, Mary J. Blige, Omarion and Kendrick Lamar. 

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Myrna Suarez/WireImageBilly Joel just capped off a banner week by tying the knot.

The 66-year-old singer-songwriter married girlfriend Alexis Roderick, 33, Saturday at his Long Island, NY estate, according to US Weekly.  By all accounts the ceremony was a surprise to the family and guests gathered for a Fourth of July celebration.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo officiated the nuptials, while guests included comic actor Kevin James and Alexa Ray Joel, Billy's daughter with second wife Christie Brinkley, who posted her congratulations on Instagram, writing: "Congratulation to the glowing bride and groom.. And to my daughter Alexa, who has a wonderful friend in Alexis! Wishing the growing family every happiness!"

James was also there last Wednesday night, when Joel performed his record 65th show at New York's Madison Square Garden, the most shows played there by any artist.  James helped raise a banner commemorating the achievement.

Joel and Roderick, who's pregnant, began dating in 2009, right about the time Billy divorced his third wife, Katie Lee.

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RCA RecordsTo some, the Fourth of July means the beach, beer and barbecues, but Daughtry will spend that day being reminded of the true meaning of the holiday -- they'll be performing for the troops at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  "It's just, like, the best crowd ever," says Chris Daughtry.

"That’s gonna be fun. We always love playing for the troops. We’ve done many tours overseas and different military bases and it’s just like the best crowd ever," Chris tells ABC Radio. "They’re so grateful and so awesome and they do all the hard work, you know?"

In fact, Chris explains why there's really a different feel when they perform for the troops, as opposed to just a regular concert audience.  "Because that’s their time to see the show. They can’t go next week; they can’t see it another time when you come back through. That’s their escape time, you know, and they don’t take that for granted," he tells ABC Radio. "You know like a lot of people [are like], 'Oh, well we saw them last month,' or whatever."

"I dunno, they just seem extremely grateful and it makes us even more proud to perform for ‘em," he adds.

Just because Chris is performing on Saturday doesn't mean he won't get to barbecue, though.  And when it comes to his favorite type of meat to cook over the coals, he's an equal-opportunity eater.  "You had me at 'meat,'" he laughs. "Whatever, just throw it on the grill and I’ll eat it. I’m a caveman, I’ll eat the crap out of some meat!"  He doesn't want too much seasoning on it, either.

"I’m a big fan of spicy food but when it comes to red meat I don’t want it too spicy," says the singer, who's evidently quite the gourmand. "I don’t want it to overtake the flavor and the rotund and robustness of the red meat."

One thing Chris probably won't be able to do on the Fourth is shoot off fireworks: they're illegal in North Carolina, and doing that on a military base probably isn't advisable.  However, the singer says when he was a kid, doing that was a big deal for him.

"I used to love shooting fireworks as a kid -- get all the M-80s and the smoke bombs and go out and put ‘em on your G.I. Joes and see how far they’ll fly," he laughs. "Some of ‘em went pretty good and they would explode!"  

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Russ Harrington/Sunshine SachsHaving written three best-selling cookbooks and hosting her hit show, Trisha's Southern Kitchen, on the Food Network, it’s no surprise that Independence Day at Grammy-winning country singer Trisha Yearwood’s house sounds like it lives up to her culinary reputation. But the Peach State native says she tends to stick to family traditions, like her mother’s coleslaw. 

“4th of July at my house is one of my favorite holidays just because it's all of my favorite summer foods,” she muses. “My dad was the grill master, and he used to make barbecue chicken for the whole town of Monticello, Georgia. We don't make it for the whole town, but we do these ribs now that were a favorite of my mom that have kind of a thick, sweet sauce, and they're part oven and part grill, and they say 4th of July to me.”

For dessert, Trisha tries to “go for something red, white and blue,” but often serves strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. In the afternoon, she’s a fan of the swimming pool, ahead of the evening’s pyrotechnics.

“My favorite part is watching the fireworks. Since marrying Garth [Brooks], we shoot off our own fireworks, which makes me a little bit nervous,” she admits. “But we also watch the whole town. You can see downtown fireworks in cities surrounding from our back porch. So, it's pretty cool to just sit out and watch all the fireworks.”

This Friday, the exhibit honoring Trisha, called “The Song Remembers When,” opens at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Robin Marchant/Getty ImagesOne of Sesame Street's most beloved cast members is leaving the show.

During the American Library Association Annual Conference Monday, Sonia Manzano -- best known as "Maria" on Sesame Street -- announced she's stepping down.

"After 45 years on Sesame Street, @SoniaMManzano will no longer appear on the next season," the Library tweeted Monday.

Manzano, 65, has won 15 writing Emmys during her long tenure on Sesame Street, and was nominated twice as a performer.

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Actress America Ferrera, best known for her starring role in the ABC series Ugly Betty, took aim at Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and his recent comments about Mexican immigrants in an open letter posted to the Huffington Post Thursday, thanking Trump for galvanizing Latino voters.

"What you did with you straight talk was send more Latino voters to the polls than several registration rallies combined!" she wrote. Noting that Latinos are youngest and fastest-growing constituency in the U.S., Ferrera wrote, "Thank you for reminding us that there remains an antiquated and endangered species of bigots in this country that we must continue to combat."

In a June 16 speech announcing his big for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as "bringing drugs" and "bringing crime" to this country, and being "rapists."

"The truth is, Mr. Trump, that your comments mean that you fail to see that immigrants are what have made this nation.  They are at the core or our ideals, and they are the foundation that keeps us afloat," Ferrera wrote, concluding, "No, Mr. Trump, you may not reduce us to drug dealser and rapists. We are moms and dads, sons and daughter. We are valedictorians and honor studies.  We are college graduates, bankers, police officiers, entertains, teachers, journalists, politicans and we are the future of America."

Meanwhile, after being dropped by NBC and Univision, Trump's Miss USA Pageant has found a home on the Reelz cable network.

“The decision on the part of REELZ to acquire the rights to the Miss USA Pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition,” said Stan E. Hubbard, CEO of Reelz, in a statement on Thursday. "“As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere."

The pageant, scheduled to take place July 12, was dropped by NBC and Univision in response to comments Trump's  June 16 comments Since then Trump has filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision claiming the network had no contractual right to terminate its deal with him; Trump also has suggested that he might sue NBC.

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ABC/Michael AnsellBlack-ish star Laurence Fishburne will play Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family, in a remake of the 1977 ABC miniseries being simulcast on History, A&E and Lifetime, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story, chronicling the life of Kunta Kinte, will be an original, contemporary production, combining material from Haley's novel with new information about the time period over which it spans. The role was portrayed by James Earl Jones in the original miniseries.

Original Roots star LeVar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte, will co-executive produce the remake.

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Anthony Harvey/Getty ImagesMonths after being named People magazine's Most Beautiful Woman, Sandra Bullock is speaking out against what she calls the media's shaming attacks on women's looks and age.

"I feel like it's become open hunting season in how women are attacked and it's not because of who we are as people, it's because of how we look or our age," she tells E! News.

"I'm shocked -- and maybe I was just naïve, but I'm embarrassed by it. My son is getting ready to grow up in this world and I'm trying to raise a good man who values and appreciates women, and here we have this attack on women in the media that I don't see a stop happening."

Mother to 5-year-old Louis, Bullock says she feels for kids growing up today, especially girls.

"Little girls are having the hardest time with bullying and the Internet -- somebody with a very large hand and big voice needs to put a stop to it," Bullock says.  "We need to stop.  We are harming girls and women in a way, at a speed that it's scaring me. It's really scaring me, so I would love for someone to help put a stop to this."

The good news, says Bullock, is seeing how women in her industry have stuck together.

"You'd be surprised at the love that you have in our crazy industry," Bullock says. "The women have bonded together and have sort of become this tribe of trying to take care of each other and be there for each other in a way, because the minute you step out it's an onslaught."

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Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagicAnt-Man star Paul Rudd got a huge honor Wednesday: the 2,554th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Rudd seemed truly overwhelmed to get a star, saying, "This is incredible."

He was impressed that his Ant-Man co-star Michael Douglas showed up to say a few words. Douglas talked about not being impressed the first time he met Rudd at a cafe in New York: "He looked like a homeless guy."

But Rudd won him over on the Ant-Man set. Douglas said, "I've never seen anybody have so much fun in my life."

And Rudd, known for being a funny guy, got emotional talking about his wife and kids, commenting, "I love my job, but that pales in comparison to how much I love you."

Marvel's Ant-Man hits theaters July 17.  Marvel is owned by Disney, which also owns ABC News.

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Al Pereira/WireImageBilly Joel made history with his latest show in his Madison Square Garden residency Wednesday night.

He performed his record 65th show at the famous New York City venue, surpassing Elton John for the most performances there by an artist. 

Actor and fellow Long Island native Kevin James was there to raise a banner commemorating the achievement. "We love you Billy," the Pixels star said. "Let's have another 65!"

Billy's set list included covers of Elton's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." 

Here's the set list:

"Big Shot"
"Anthony's Song"
Kevin James appearance, banner raised
"Patriotic Medley"
"My Life"
"Honesty"
"The Entertainer"
"Sleeping with the Television On"
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
"Allentown"
"For the Longest Time"
"Keeping the Faith"
"C'était Toi (You Were the One)"
"Don't Ask Me Why"
"New York State of Mind"
"Sometimes a Fantasy"
"She's Always a Woman to Me"
"River of Dreams" into "Summer in the City" back to "River of Dreams"
"New York, New York"
"Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"
"Piano Man"

Encore
"We Didn't Start the Fire"
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
"Uptown Girl"
"Still Rock and Roll to Me"
"You May Be Right"
"Only the Good Die Young"
"Miami 2017"

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Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTubeWhile the set for his new CBS late-night program is being built, Stephen Colbert is apparently itching to get behind a chat show desk -- which, he explained, was why he recently hosted a Michigan public access show called Only in Monroe.

The footage was posted on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert YouTube channel Wednesday night.

While not in his Colbert Report persona, Colbert was certainly in character, deadpanning through the 41-plus minute program as any local host would, on location in the local access channel's studio, which Colbert said was the perfect channel "to binge watch 2014 city council meetings. Spoiler alert: don't get too attached to that free parking on Cass Street.  It doesn't end well."

Colbert also performed live spots for local eateries and interviews with local newsmakers, including "a local Michigander who is making a name for himself in the competitive world of music...Marshall Mathers." 

Colbert acted as if he'd never heard of Mathers -- who is of course rapper Eminem -- sometimes to Eminem's apparent disbelief, and checked the Detroit native's Michigan bona fides by quizzing him on fellow Michigan native Bob Seger's songs.  Eminem played along, singing the hooks from a few, though most he didn't know.  "You claim to be from Michigan, but you don't know these songs," Colbert chided him. 

"So, where do you hope this goes," Colbert asked about Mathers' music. "Is it a career? A hobby?" He also warned Eminem, "This is a tough business, do you have a fallback position? Carpentry?  You just have to make plans for when the dreams die."

"I'm so confused right now," said Eminem at one point, who was there to promote the boxing movie Southpaw. "I'm trying to figure out if you're serious..." 

Em clearly was in on the joke, however.  He even read entries from the Monroe Community Calendar, and waved goodbye with Colbert through an absurdly long end credits sequence.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premieres September 8 at 11:35 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

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Jason Merritt/Getty Images via ABCRapper Iggy Azalea insists that her supposed feud with pop singer Britney Spears is nothing more than a media creation.

Much has been made of Iggy's online comment regarding their duet "Pretty Girls," and how the two  artists allegedly threw shade at one another. But on Tuesday Iggy said she is "really saddened" that the media is "trying to create a 'beef'" between her and Britney.

She tweeted, "We remain friends and i haven't said anything negative at all about her. Does wishing we had promoted a single more make me the bad guy?"

"i feel like the media wants women in music to get out and mud wrestle each other," the Australian rapper continued. "As a woman i take great offense. Women in the media should be able to have a grown up and subjective opinion without it being anything more than that. its disappointing. No one is throwing 'shade' or 'shots' on either side of the table. The girl is my friend and i support her 100%."

Iggy concluded, "i feel like the press just wants to see girls be overtly sexual to one another, and have no real opinion other than 'i love it!' Im over it. Women in music are not the same as a teen drama. Stop making us all out to be, we are business women & artists. Not mean girls."

Last weekend, Iggy responded to a fan to explain why “Pretty Girls” wasn’t a hit. "Its difficult to send a song up the charts without additional promo and tv performances etc," she wrote. "unfortunately I'm just featured....”

The comment was perceived by some as a dis directed at Britney. For her part, Brit tweeted, "Can’t wait to get back to Vegas. So thankful I have shows for the rest of the year to look forward to... #YouWantAPieceOfMe," in what may or may not have been a reference to Iggy cancelling her tour.

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Nino Munoz/Big Machine RecordsAs America prepares to celebrate its independence July 4, country music superstar Tim McGraw continues to celebrate the veterans who've helped fight for the country.

So far, on the Shotgun Rider 2015 Tour he’s given away six mortgage-free homes to deserving soldiers, with 30 more members of the armed forces set to get new houses by the tour’s end through his partnership with Chase and Operation Homefront.

“[These are] people who have given us security for a lot of years,” Tim reflects, “and we’re able to do that back for them in a small way.” In the three years he's worked with Chase and Operation Homefront, they’ve partnered to give away 114 homes in 30 states.

Tim’s next tour stop with singers Billy Currington and Chase Bryant is July 10 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros.A trailer for the latest film in the Rocky series, Creed, had debuted.

The movie stars Michael B. Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa's rival/pal played by Carl Weathers in previous Rocky films. The trailer features the return of Sylvester Stallone as the Italian Stallion himself, Rocky Balboa.

Creed, helmed by Jordan's Fruitvale Station director, Ryan Coogler, opens November 25.

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C Flanigan/WireImageWhen Ben Affleck thanked his now-estranged wife Jennifer Garner at the 2013 Oscars for working on their marriage for "10 Christmases," he apparently wasn't kidding.  A source tells US Weekly magazine the couple nearly divorced three years ago, and was participating in regular couples therapy to try to salvage their marriage.

According to the source, the two were going to split three years ago when their youngest child, Samuel, was born, but "you know how it is -- baby comes and solves the issues for a bit but it's just a Band-Aid.  It hasn't been working for ages."

The couple reportedly wanted to make their marriage work for the sake of their three kids, who in addition to Samuel include nine-year-old Violet and six-year-old Seraphina.  Now that the marriage is over, though, the couple will still stay together -- sort of -- for the sake of the children.  According to a source close to the situation, the actors, who announced their split one day after their 10th wedding anniversary, will continue to live on the same property.

"It's obviously a very sad time for both of them," the source told ABC News. "They have been trying to save the marriage for years, but they know it's the right thing for their family and for them. The kids will continue to come before everything."

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