Rascal Flatts and Sara Evans Achieve Milestones

Trio Top Pop Albums Chart, Evans Mixes Motherhood With No. 1 Single

Rascal Flatts and Sara Evans each achieved career milestones this week — and Evans celebrated a personal one, as well.

When Rascal Flatts’ third album, Feels Like Today, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, they became the first act on Disney-owned Lyric Street Records to do so. Although the Dixie Chicks previously debuted on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart with Fly and Home, Rascal Flatts are the only other country group to have an album hit No. 1 on the list during the first week of release. And with sales of almost 201,000 copies, Rascal Flatts have the fifth highest first-week sales of any country album released this year.

As for Evans, her “Suds in the Bucket” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s country singles chart. However, the bigger news for Evans and husband Craig Schelske was Wednesday’s (Oct. 6) arrival of their third child, daughter Audrey Elizabeth. Amazingly, Evans spent the day before in a recording studio singing demos for her next album.

Rascal Flatts’ debut on the Billboard 200 ensured entering the trade publications country albums chart at No. 1. Singer-songwriter Phil Vassar made a strong debut at No. 10 on the country albums chart with his new project, Shaken Not Stirred. In between on the country albums chart, there’s little movement as Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying remains at No. 2 and Keith Urban’s Be Here slips slightly to No. 3 after debuting at the top of the chart last week. Remaining in fourth and fifth place, respectively are Gretchen Wilson’s Here for the Party and Big & Rich’s Horse of a Different Color. Alan Jackson’s What I Do slips three spaces to No. 6, Brad Paisley’s Mud on the Tires slides to No. 7 and Kenny Chesney’s When the Sun Goes Down holds at No. 8. Jimmy Buffett’s License to Chill falls one notch to No. 9, but his sales are likely to increase substantially after his interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

Also on the country albums chart, newcomer George Canyon debuts at No. 35 with One Good Friend, and Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder enter the chart at No. 62 with Brand New Strings.

With Evans at the top of the country singles chart, George Strait moves up to second place with “I Hate Everything,” and Urban’s recent No. 1, “Days Go By,” slips to third. Wilson’s “Here for the Party” and Jackson’s “Too Much of a Good Thing” remain in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Toby Keith’s “Stays in Mexico” climbs a notch to sixth, and Vassar’s “In a Real Love” makes a two-rung rise to seventh. Brooks & Dunn’s “That’s What It’s All About” remains at No. 8, and McGraw’s latest No. 1, “Live Like You Were Dying,” slips three positions to No. 9. Gary Allan’s “Nothing On but the Radio” makes a two-slot leap to round out the Top 10.

Also debuting this week: Jackson’s “Monday Morning Church” (No. 47), newcomer Shelly Fairchild’s “You Don’t Lie Here Anymore” (No. 52), Chad Brock’s “That Changed Me” (No. 57), David Lee Murphy’s “Inspiration” (No. 58) and Andy Griggs’ “If Heaven” (No. 59).

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.