After serving in the U.S. Army for more than a decade, it looks like Craig Morgan has made a wise choice to pursue a singing career. The same week he scored his first No. 1 country single with "That's What I Love About Sunday," he finds himself in the company of superstars as his new CD, My Kind of Livin', debuts at No. 7 on the country albums chart.
Morgan was in Washington when he got the chart news. He had spent the past week on a tour of in-store CD signings and performances in Dallas, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Fort Myers, Fla., to promote the album.
New albums from Deana Carter and Rhonda Vincent also debut this week on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart while a new duo with a familiar family name impact Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks.
With Morgan at the top of the singles list, Josh Gracin's "Nothin' to Lose" gets pushed to second place. Holding steady in third through sixth place, respectively, are Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road," Sugarland's "Baby Girl," Kenny Chesney's "Anything But Mine" and Brooks & Dunn's "It's Getting Better All the Time." On the rise are Montgomery Gentry's "Gone" (No. 7) and Billy Dean's "Let Them Be Little" (No. 8). While Brad Paisley's "Mud on the Tires" continues to spin at No. 9, Jo Dee Messina returns to the Top 10 with her latest single, "My Give a Damn's Busted." Messina's single was co-produced by Byron Gallimore and Tim McGraw.
Van Zant -- the duo of siblings Donnie and Johnny Van Zant -- debut at No. 44 with their first single, "Help Somebody." Donnie gained fame for his work as vocalist and guitarist in the Southern rock band .38 Special. Johnny took over lead vocal duties in Lynyrd Skynyrd following the tragic death of their brother, Ronnie Van Zant.
The only other title debuting this week is Rascal Flatts' "Fast Cars and Freedom," a track from the trio's latest album, Feels Like Today.
Chesney saw an increase in album sales that moved his platinum-selling Be As You Are: Songs From an Old Blue Chair back to the top of the country albums chart. In doing so, he knocked Feels Like Today back to second place. Gretchen Wilson's Here for the Party hangs at No. 3, Shania Twain's Greatest Hits rises to No. 4 and the multi-artist Totally Country Vol. 4 drops to No. 5. McGraw's Live Like You Were Dying climbs to No. 6, just above Morgan's debut. Keith's Greatest Hits 2 climbs to No. 8, Chesney's When the Sun Goes Down moves up to No. 9 and Lee Ann Womack's There's More Where That Came From rounds out the Top 10 after slipping from No. 8.
Carter's The Story of My Life, her first album for Vanguard Records, debuts at No. 26, while Rhonda Vincent & the Rage's concert album, Ragin' Live, enters the country albums chart at No. 56. Vincent's album debuted at No. 2 on the bluegrass chart.
Chris LeDoux's untimely death resulted in a renewed interest in his music. His 20 Originals: The Early Years compilation re-entered the country albums chart at No. 60 just a little more than a year after it was first released.