Magazine article Variety

Country Music Acts Hit Happy High Notes

Magazine article Variety

Country Music Acts Hit Happy High Notes

Article excerpt


1 Taylor Swift may be one of the biggest selling Nashville-bred pop stars of the current decade, but even she can't hold a candle to the grand dame of country-pop crossovers. Twain will receive the CMT artist of a lifetime award at the network's Artists of the Year event on Oct. 20. With the 40 million in worldwide sales that her 1997 album "Come on Over" attained, looking unlikely to ever be equaled in country music, Twain remains a massive name in the industry despite the nearly 15 years that have elapsed since her last studio collection, as her tours and Vegas residency prove.


2 Collecting her third CMT artist of the year award, the 33-year-old Underwood can boast a not insignificant accomplishment: Of all 15 winners to emerge from the recently mothballed "American Idol," Underwood is one of only two to have gone on to forge a career significant enough to merit a greatest hits album. That record, "Greatest Hits: Decade One" went platinum more than a year ago, and the Oklahoma native has already added a few more to her collection, most notably a recent pair of country No. 2 singles, "Heartbeat" and "Church Bells."


3 Over the past year, Stapleton has experienced the sort of remarkable rise that any country music veteran dreams of. Already established as an estimable songwriter - penning tracks for artists as varied as Jason Aldean, Alison Krauss, and Adele - the redoubtable singer-songwriter and onetime frontman of bluegrass group the Steeldrivers saw his solo debut, "Traveller," launch him into country's upper echelons. Two Grammys followed, as well as a nomination for album of the year, and he performed a barn-burning guitar solo at the B.B. King tribute. At last year's CMAs, he dueted with Justin Timberlake. Belated stardom rarely comes sweeter than that.


4 One of the more contentious superstars to emerge onto country radio in recent years, the Nashville duo - Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard - came to all but embody the "bro-country" tag when they notched multiplatinum sales with 2012 album "Here's to the Good Times," driven by single "Cruise," which spent 24 weeks at the top of the Country Singles chart. Purists didn't know what to make of their genre-crossing good-time anthems, but the group's success has continued unabated into 2016, with the release of "Dig Your Roots. …

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