Alan Jackson a Christian Crossover Star
By Deborah Evans Price
NASHVILLE, Dec. 25, 2006 (www.washingtonpost.com) - Sometimes it's the simplest, purest creative expressions that resonate most powerfully with consumers. The success of Alan Jackson's "Precious Memories" is a prime example.
The country superstar recorded the album as a Christmas gift for his mother, spending just a brief time in the studio with longtime producer Keith Stegall recording classic hymns that were among her favorites.
When his label boss Joe Galante, chairman of Sony BMG in Nashville, heard the collection, he coaxed Jackson into letting the gift become a commercial release. The result is the most successful Christian record of 2006.
Jackson places at No. 1 on the year-end Top Christian Artists chart, and his Arista Nashville album claims the No. 1 slot on the Top Christian Albums recap.
In addition to being the top-selling Christian title this year, "Precious Memories" was one of five CDs nominated for album of the year at the Country Music Assn. Awards in November. Although it lost to Brad Paisley's "Time Well Wasted," it marked the first time a Christian album had been nominated in that category.
Kirk Franklin's "Hero," released in September 2005, is the hottest-selling gospel title of 2006, coming in at No. 1 on the Top Gospel Albums recap and at No. 2 on the Top Christian Albums tally. Franklin takes the No. 1 spot on the Top Gospel Artists tally and comes in at No. 2 on the Top Christian Artists recap.
The Top Christian Artists ranking demonstrates the diversity of the faith-based music community. Jackson, a country artist, is in the top spot, but the remaining acts are a mix of gospel, rock and worship like Flyleaf, Chris Tomlin, Underoath and Mary Mary, who all placed in the top 10.