Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

At press time, tickets are still available for Newsboys, Kutless and Stellar Kart at the Louisville Palace March 15th. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster outlets including ticketmaster.com. There are several other shows in the works-I should have more details on that next month.

The Gospel Music Association (GMA) and Nielsen Christian SoundScan have announced 2006 year-end sales data for the 52-week period ending December 31, 2006.

"2006 was a good year for Christian/Gospel music. Album sales were up, albeit slightly; digital sales continue to rise and most importantly, the impact of the Gospel through music reached beyond even what our sales reveal. Everywhere you look, in books, games, TV and movies, music that is inspired by faith seems more prevalent than ever before," said John W. Styll, president and CEO of the GMA. "There may be many reasons why this is true, but I think chief among them is that people seem to be drawn to the inspiring and compassionate message of Gospel music amid uncertain times."

Christian/Gospel music sales in 2006 represent music that is sold at both Christian and mainstream retail and is compiled by the GMA from Nielsen Christian SoundScan, the data information system that tracks point-of-purchase sales of recorded music product.

2006 TOP-SELLING CHRISTIAN AND GOSPEL MUSIC ALBUMS

(Reflects sales for all titles in the Nielsen Christian SoundScan system sold at Christian and mainstream retail and through digital channels. It excludes Christmas catalog titles.)

Title/Record Company Artist Units Sold/2006

1. Precious Memories(Arista/Sony/Provident) Alan Jackson 1288595

2. Flyleaf(Octone) Flyleaf 488828

3. Hero(GospoCentric) Kirk Franklin 424269

4. Lifesong(Reunion) Casting Crowns 398160

5. WoW Hits 2007(Sparrow) Various 363395

6. Define the Great Line(T&N) Underoath 316128

7. Coming Up to Breathe(INO) MercyMe 309423

8. WoW Gospel 2006(Verity) Various 301534

9. Wherever You Are (Essential) Third Day 295721

10. Piece of My Passion(Flow) Juanita Bynum 287028

11. WoW Hits 2006(Sparrow) Various 277663

12. Arriving(Sixsteprecords) Chris Tomlin 253757

13. Mary Mary(Columbia/Integrity) Mary Mary 252323

14. WoW Worship Aqua(Provident) Various 234557

15. Testify (Atlantic) P.O.D. 225850

16. All I Really Want for Christmas(Sparrow) Steven Curtis Chapman 220836

17. Restored(BEC Recordings) Jeremy Camp 216175

18. See The Morning(Sixsteprecords) Chris Tomlin 203095

19. Three Wooden Crosses(Word) Various 193867

20. Open the Eyes of My Heart(INO) Various 188483

21. Casting Crowns(Reunion) Casting Crowns 175240

22. Chronicles of Narnia(Disney/EMICMG) Various 162352

23. Day by Day (Atlantic) Yolanda Adams 156224

24. Hearts of the Innocent (BEC Recordings) Kutless 156052

25. MMHMM (Gotee) Relient K 155585

"Alan Jackson represents the significant impact that various country artists are having in our culture with faith-inspired recordings," said Styll, who noted that the Christian/Gospel music industry shares Nashville/Music City as its "home" with country music. In addition to Jackson's record, Three Wooden Crosses, a compilation CD featuring Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Amy Grant and others was among the top-selling Christian/Gospel music albums sold in 2006. Also notable, Alabama released Songs of Inspiration, claiming the top spot on Billboard's "Top Country Albums" and "Top Christian Albums" chart, marking the first time the legendary country group entered any album chart in the top position.

Country was not the only story in 2006, Styll added, noting that the breakout success of artists like Flyleaf, Underoath, Juanita Bynum, Kutless and Mat Kearney and the continued popularity of Kirk Franklin, Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns and others contribute to a positive outlook for the long-term health of Christian/Gospel music.

Additional Year-End Notes and Facts:

*According to Nielsen SoundScan's 2006 Year-end report the Christian/Gospel category of overall album sales joined classical, soundtracks and Latin as the only genres that grew in sales in 2006. Christian/Gospel music sales are the largest of those four genres and represents 6.75 percent of all album sales.

*Overall Christian/Gospel album sales were up 1.5 percent for the year when factoring in digital track equivalency compared to the overall music industry's overall music sales downturn of 1.2 percent. (Nielsen SoundScan calculates digital track equivalency by converting every 10 individual tracks to one album unit). Excluding digital track equivalents, Christian/Gospel album sales are still up, 1.3 percent.

*Legal digital music sales continue on an impressive growth trajectory, with a total of 5.2 million tracks sold a 22.9 increase over 2005. Digital albums sales nearly doubled from 597,000 in 2005 to 1.1 million in 2006, a 91 percent increase. The top-selling digital album was Mat Kearney's Nothing Left to Lose, which had 28,456 in digital sales, and the top-selling digital track was "Beautiful Love" from The Afters, the 2006 recipient of the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year, with 189,461 units downloaded.

*Mainstream retail outlets sold 64 percent of all Christian/Gospel music sales while Christian retail accounted for 36 percent of gospel music sales.

*The top 10 markets in 2006 were Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle-Tacoma and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

*The most popular styles of Christian/Gospel music were AC/pop (23%), black gospel (20%) and rock (16%). Praise & worship followed with approximately 10 percent of sales.

*The top-selling albums in the AC/pop category were:

Lifesong (Reunion) Casting Crowns

WoW Hits 2007 (Sparrow) Various

Coming Up to Breathe (INO) MercyMe

WoW Hits 2006 (Sparrow) Various

All I Really Want (Sparrow) Steven Curtis Chapman

*The top-selling albums in the black gospel category were:

Hero (GospoCentric) Kirk Franklin

WoW Gospel 2005 (Verity) Various

Piece of My Passion (Flow) Juanita Bynum

Mary Mary (Columbia/Integrity) Mary Mary

Day By Day (Atlantic) Yolanda Adams

*The top-selling albums in the rock category were:

Flyleaf (Octone) Flyleaf

Define the Great Line (T&N) Underoath

Wherever You Are (Essential) Third Day

Testify (Atlantic) P.O.D.

Hearts of the Innocent (BEC Recordings) Kutless

*The top-selling albums in the praise & worship category were:

Arriving (Sixsteprecords) Chris Tomlin

WoW Worship Aqua (Provident) Various

See The Morning (Sixsteprecords) Chris Tomlin

Open the Eyes of My Heart (INO) Various

Anything Worth Saying (Brash Music/Word) Aaron Shust

*The top-selling digital album downloads were:

Nothing Left to Lose (inpop) Mat Kearney

Flyleaf (Octone) Flyleaf

See The Morning (Sixsteprecords) Chris Tomlin

Precious Memories (Arista/Sony/Provident) Alan Jackson

Chronicles of Narnia (Disney/EMICMG) Various.