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Yearwood’s New Album First To Hit No. 1 Spot

A big Nashville topic of conversation has been the recent, sudden ascension of Trisha Yearwood to another level of popularity after a half-dozen years of stardom.

In its first week of release Yearwood’s new MCA greatest-hits album, “Songbook: A Collection of Hits,” became Yearwood’s first ever to hit the country album charts’ No. 1 spot (and No. 4 in the pop list), as well as her first to sell 126,000 copies in a single week. It’s No. 3 this week.

A great vocalist who has dared to record thoughtful and envelope-pushing material, Yearwood has sold more than a million copies of each of her albums, but had never wowed the market the way she has with her hits package.

It’s as if most of the marketplace took her for granted until her head-to-head confrontation with teen sensation LeAnn Rimes on their competing versions of the “Con Air” film soundtrack song, “How Do I Live.” Coupled with the current Yearwood/Garth Brooks duet, it appears to have shot Yearwood’s public profile into the stratosphere.

At a hastily arranged Nashville party to celebrate the wildly successful album launch, Yearwood called it “the sweetest day of my career” because “when things take a while to happen they’re sweeter.”

She went on to thank her new duet partner, a friend for nearly a decade. Brooks, who attended the party, responded that up to now her career has been one of “silent grace,” one that is inherently “strong” rather than just “blown out in the media.”

Collie no dog as actor

In recent talk about the Nashville-premiered Steven Seagal movie “Fire Down Below,” whose cast includes such Nashvillians as Randy Travis, Billy Ray Cyrus and Marty Stuart, the one receiving the most enthusiastic raves from his peers seems to be lesser-known Mark Collie.

A tall, lean diabetic whose looks and manner are remindful of Johnny Cash in the 1960s, Collie is being described as one of Nashville music’s best actors, and it happens that he had some early inspiration in that direction.

The singer’s late father, a World War II hero, was often the companion of Robert Mitchum, who used to spend a lot of his off-screen time hiding out from celebrity in the rural haunts of Collie’s native southern Middle Tennessee.

Shelton album sales

The word is that Ricky Van Shelton’s new album, “Making Plans,” which is on Shelton’s own RVS label and is being retailed only at Wal-Marts for a limited time, is selling, but Soundscan, which normally monitors and validates such purchases, doesn’t measure the sales of records as long as they’re available only through one venue.

Cyrus coming out with ‘Best’

One of the decade’s more controversial performers is back with his fifth album, a greatest hits collection titled “The Best of Billy Ray Cyrus: Cover To Cover.”

It contains eight hits along with three new songs produced by Keith Stegall, the producer behind Alan Jackson and others. The new ones are titled “Cover To Cover,” “It’s All the Same To Me” and “Bluegrass State of Mind,” the third reflecting the spirit of the album that finally brought him critical acceptance, “Trail of Tears.”