Elliott describes event as 'a Lilith Fair on the urban side'

HOLLYWOOD — The three biggest female stars in contempo R&B — Beyonce, Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott — are banding together for a 22-city arena tour that begins March 12 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Verizon Triple Threat Tour is “a Lilith Fair on the urban side,” Elliott said at a press conference Thursday. Tour hits Madison Square Garden on April 12; there is no L.A. date yet. No details have been released on the order of the performers, either.

Theoretically each of the singers could headline a tour on her own. In many ways, the three performers have been key in building the reputations and profitability of their individual labels.

Knowles, founder of Destiny’s Child, is making her first shows in support of 2.7 million-seller “Dangerously in Love” (Columbia), which is up for six Grammys. With Destiny’s Child, she sold more than 40 million albums and in 2001 became the first black woman to win the ASCAP Pop Songwriter of the Year Award.

Keys, the first newly minted superstar on Clive Davis’ J Records, won five Grammys for her “Songs in A Minor” and has seen her followup, “The Diary of Alicia Keys,” top 2.1 million in sales. She is J’s biggest-selling artist in its three-year history.

Elliott, meanwhile, through the albums “This is Not a Test” and “Under Construction,” has been a driving force in establishing Elektra Records as a force in R&B and hip-hop.

Tamia, a tyro labelmate of Elliott whose “Officially Missing You” was an urban A/C chart-topper, will be opening the shows. She is promoting the single “Questions,” which will appear on the album “More,” being released April 6.

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