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STAPLETON'S JUMP TO #1 IS A CMA FIRST

Mercury Nashville's Chris Stapleton is rightly getting a lot of attention for his surge to #1 in the wake of his three-award sweep and show-stealing performance on last week's CMA telecast. But there's another aspect of this story that hasn't gotten enough attention. The ascension of Stapleton's Traveller marks the first time in CMA history that an album has moved up to #1 in the wake of winning for Album of the Year.

This is a more common occurrence with the Grammys. Four albums have reached #1 only after winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. They are Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time in 1990, Eric Clapton's Unplugged in 1993, the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack in 2002 and Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company in 2005. (O Brother won the CMA award for Album of the Year in November 2001, but it was the Grammy win in the same category three months later that took it to the top of the chart.)

In addition, three non-#1 albums reached their chart peaks only after winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. These are Paul Simon's Graceland in 1987, Tony Bennett's MTV Unplugged in 1995 and Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters in 2008.

Stapleton's leap to #1 this week suggests that the CMA telecast has matured into a television property that can propel albums to the top, just as the Grammys have been doing for decades.

Incidentally, Traveller is just the third debut album to win the CMA award for Album of the Year. It follows Jack Greene's There Goes My Everything in 1967 (the CMA's inaugural year) and the Kentucky Headhunters' Pickin' on Nashville in 1990.

Here's a little more CMA trivia for you: Many noted the rarity of seeing three female songwriters share the CMA award for Song of the Year, but we can tell you just how rare a sight that was. When Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose won for co-writing the Little Big Town smash "Girl Crush," it marked just the second time in CMA history that three female songwriters have shared that prize. The first time, 16 years ago, came when Beth Nielsen Chapman, Robin Lerner and Annie Roboff shared the award for co-writing the Faith Hill hit "This Kiss."    

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