Timberlake stays busy during break from group

July 15, 2002|By Jim Abbott | Jim Abbott,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It has been a summer of transition for Justin Timberlake.

He is working on a solo album, his first material since 'N Sync announced a recording and touring hiatus in the spring. He's also putting his personal life in order after the international media frenzy over his breakup with Britney Spears.

Last week, Liz Smith linked the singer with Janet Jackson, a report that wasn't denied by Timberlake's publicists.

The yet-to-be-titled album, expected to be ready for fall release, was recorded in Orlando, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Virginia Beach, Va.

Timberlake co-wrote all the songs with a variety of producers, but doesn't want to say much about the album's style.

"It's almost done, and I'm very happy with it," he says.

"I just traveled on my own, and it was good for me to not feel like I was working. The things that have happened for me personally have definitely taken a toll on my heart. It's been really hard for me."

Timberlake will reunite with 'N Sync members Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and JC Chasez for the group's annual Challenge for the Children celebrity benefit weekend July 26-28 at the TD Waterhouse Centre in Orlando.

Entertainers and athletes including Aaron Carter, Brian McKnight, Shannon Elizabeth, Antawn Jamison and Warren Sapp will participate in a scavenger hunt, "skills challenge" and celebrity basketball game. Proceeds benefit organizations that support children's causes ranging from educational issues to pediatric AIDS, adoption, foster care, alcohol and drug prevention programs.

Timberlake, 21, says that feedback from 'N Sync's charity work is rewarding, particularly after recent gossip about his personal life.

"It's tough when the tabloids want to print something that's not true, especially when you're going through a hard time about something that meant so much to you."

He adds that his new music has been "the most therapeutic thing I've had."

"When you see a therapist, people basically talk their problems out with a neutral party. That's kind of the way I look at my music. It's a neutral partner, and I get to say everything that's on my mind to myself and get it off my chest."

Jim Abbott is pop music critic for the Orlando Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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