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Country Music Album Sales Up in 2011

Lady Antebellum, from left, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood pose backstage with the award for best record of the year at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, in Los Angeles.

In 2011, Country album sales increased more than four percent over the previous year and a number of Country artists enjoyed crossover success on the pop charts.

In 2011, the Eli Young Band earned its first Number One Country hit with “Crazy Girl.” Although it took 38 weeks to reach the summit, the song was played on radio more than any competitor to make it the Number One Country single of the year. In 2011, the Eli Young Band moved to Republic Nashville Records. The two-year-old label’s roster also includes Martina McBride, Sunny Sweeney and The Band Perry.

Sibling trio The Band Perry had the biggest breakout success of any Country newcomer during the past year. “If I Die Young” was the most downloaded digital Country single of 2011. Eleven months after its Number One success on the Country chart, the song ascended to the top of the Adult Contemporary list. The Band Perry’s follow-up hit, “You Lie,” ranks at Number Five on Billboard’s yearend Hot Country Songs chart.

In 2011, Lady Antebellum released its third album, “Own the Night,” but the trio was still riding high on the success of its previous release, “Need You Now.” “Need You Now” gave the group five Grammy Awards, and it was this year’s fourth best-selling Country album. “Own the Night” ranks two spaces lower at Number Six.

Two “American Idol” finalists made Billboard’s Top Five New Country Artists yearend list. First runner-up Lauren Alaina placed at Number Three. She says highlights of 2011 include the release of her first album “Wildflower,” making her Grand Ole Opry debut, and performing at the White House for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery is the year’s Number One New Country Artist. “The Trouble With Girls” was one of two hits from 18-year-old Scotty McCreery’s debut album, “Clear As Day.” Its Number One entry on the Billboard 200 and Country Albums charts made him the youngest male artist to open in the top spot. “Clear As Day” also had the highest first-week sales of any solo Country artist in 2011.

The Number One Male Country Artist of the year was 34-year-old Georgia native Jason Aldean. He earned his big break with his fourth album, “My Kinda Party.” The set has sold more than two million copies in the U.S. alone and ranks at Number Four on the all-genre Billboard 200 yearend chart. Two songs from the album reached Number One, including the Country-rap hit, “Dirt Road Anthem,” which also tops Billboard’s yearend Ringtones chart.

Jason Aldean’s fans showed their support by giving him six wins at the recent 2nd Annual American Country Awards…more than any other nominee. Aldean is one of four Country artists listed among the Top 25 tours of 2011. The others include Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift, who had the year’s Number One Country tour and ranks at Number 5 overall.

Swift’s “Speak Now” album was the year’s Number One Country seller, and trailed only Adele on the Billboard 200 yearend chart. Swift also earned several industry awards throughout the year. They include being named the Country Music Association’s and Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year, the American Music Awards’ Artist of the Year, and Billboard’s Woman of the Year. At only 22, she’s the youngest recipient of Billboard’s prestigious honor.

Taylor Swift closes 2011 with one of the fastest-rising chart hits of her career, “Ours.”