There was quite a bit of discussion earlier this week about the scarcity of female artists on the radio these days. Then again, there’s usually quite a bit of discussion about the women in country music on this site anyway. This edition of Crunching the Numbers takes a look at the current studio albums of veteran female artists, all of whom have been established names for more than a decade.
Reba McEntire, Reba Duets
Release: September 18, 2007
Sales to Date: 1,419,600
I’ll completely cop to the fact that I underestimated this project. Reba’s done so many side projects lately, and every duet album carries a faint whiff of desperation. But she proved all the naysayers wrong, scoring her first #1 album on the all-genre chart. Reba Duets is now her highest-selling studio album since 1996’s What if It’s You, and is likely to eclipse that set soon. After a major hit with Kelly Clarkson, she’s now in the top twenty with Kenny Chesney (or Skip Ewing.)
LeAnn Rimes, Family
Release: October 9, 2007
Sales to Date: 359,900
Sales for Rimes’ current set are still little more than half what her previous record, This Woman, scanned, but given that radio support has been far weaker this time out, that’s still a decent number to be at. “What I Cannot Change” has the potential to be a career record, so this set’s best sales season may still be to come.
Trisha Yearwood, Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love
Release: November 13, 2007
Sales to Date: 161,300
Even though it’s her slowest-selling album to date, it’s a record rich with strong material. The question is if Big Machine will continue to mine it for more singles, which MCA failed to do with Yearwood’s excellent Real Live Woman and Jasper County sets. “Cowboys are My Weakness” and “Dreaming Fields” could be the right cuts to promote.
Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie
Release: February 26, 2008
Sales to Date: 112,100
This hasn’t been the radio comeback that Parton was gunning for, and that Idol guest spot did more to stimulate catalog sales in the end. Even on this week’s chart, there are two Parton hits compilations that outsold her current album. But the title track may be the set’s lingering claim to fame, as it’s featured in the Parton-penned 9 to 5 musical that’s opening on Broadway. Readers know that Parton was #1 on my 100 Greatest Women feature, and that was before she had the composition of an entire Broadway original score under her belt. The woman’s talent is deep as it is relentless.
Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be
Release: June 10, 2008
Sales to Date: 68,400
Who would’ve thought that Montgomery Gentry would release an album on the same day as Emmylou Harris, and despite them having the #1 single at country radio, she’d outsell them each and every week? This year’s Hall of Fame inductee still has a loyal audience, though it’s changed in composition over the years.