Although a relatively few acts dominate Billboard's country singles and album charts in any given week, there are currently at least 185 artists from major and established independent labels aspiring for those rarefied positions.
Photo Credit: Russ Harrington
CMT.com's just-concluded survey reveals that this universe is overwhelmingly made up of male artists, complemented by 48 females and 39 duos or larger groups. Of these, there are 16 recording comedy acts, some of whose works surfaces regularly on the country album charts.
Among the prominent or recently charting artists whose names don't show up in the new tally are Patty Loveless, Hal Ketchum, Billy Dean, Marty Stuart, Lee Roy Parnell, Jennifer Hanson, Diamond Rio, Jamey Johnson, the Wrights and Trent Willmon. Cyndi Thomson, who was rumored to be returning to Capitol, does not appear on that label's roster. Similarly, Scotty Emerick, Toby Keith's frequent writing and performing pal, appears to be missing from Keith's Show Dog lineup.
Here is the overall roster. It includes only labels that focus primarily on contemporary country music.
Arista: Keith Anderson, Brooks & Dunn, Jason Michael Carroll, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Crystal Shawanda, Carrie Underwood, Phil Vassar.
Big Machine: Jack Ingram, Taylor Swift, Danielle Peck, Jimmy Wayne, Dusty Drake, Sunny Sweeney.
BNA: Kenny Chesney, Terri Clark, Pat Green, Sarah Johns, Blaine Larsen, Lonestar, Lost Trailers, Kellie Pickler. (Barbara Mandrell is also listed but is not on the active recording roster. BNA recently released a CD tribute to her.)
Broken Bow: Jason Aldean, Craig Morgan, Megan Mullins, Crossin' Dixon, Sherrie Austin, Chad Austin, Lila McCann, Robert Lee, Fidel Hernandez.
Capitol: Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Chris Cagle, Eric Church, Amber Dotson, the Jenkins, Jamie O'Neal, Kenny Rogers, Keith Urban, Emily West, Rodney Carrington, Mark Gross, Tim Wilson.
Category 5: Donovan Chapman, Sammy Kershaw, Odiss Kohn, Jerrod Niemann, Travis Tritt.
Columbia: Cole Deggs & the Lonesome, Christian Kane, Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, Montgomery Gentry, Van Zant, Gretchen Wilson.
Curb: Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Rodney Atkins, Steve Holy, Bomshel, Amy Dalley, Sawyer Brown, Cledus T. Judd, Bellamy Brothers, Jeff Carson.
Curb/Asylum: Cowboy Crush, Wynonna, Hank Williams Jr., LeAnn Rimes, Lee Brice, Clay Walker, Rio Grand.
Dualtone: Guy Clark, Radney Foster, Charlie Robison, Deryl Dodd, BR549, the Greencards, Bobby Bare, Cowboy Jack Clement, Roger Creager, the Peasall Sisters, Norman & Nancy Blake, Mary Karlzen.
Equity: Clint Black, Little Big Town, Carolina Rain, Mark Wills, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Laura Bryna.
Lofton Creek: Heartland, Doug Stone, Kristina Cornell, Townsend & O'Donnell, Jeffrey Steele, Shawn King.
Lost Highway: Willie Nelson, Mary Gauthier, Donovan Frankenreiter, Night Train To Nashville, Golden Smog, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Ryan Adams, Van Morrison, Hayes Carll.
Lyric Street: Rascal Flatts, SheDaisy, Josh Gracin, Marcel, Sarah Buxton, Lisa Shaffer, Trent Tomlinson, Bucky Covington.
MCA: Gary Allan, George Strait, Hot Apple Pie, Josh Turner, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill.
903 Music: Neal McCoy, Darryl Worley, Drew Davis Band.
Mercury: Lee Ann Womack, Billy Currington, Gary Nichols, Julie Roberts, Randy Rogers Band, Shania Twain, Sugarland.
Show Dog: Toby Keith, Lindsey Haun, Rushlow Harris, Carter's Chord, Flynnville Train.
RCA: Catherine Britt, Sara Evans, Jypsi, Martina McBride, Jake Owen, Chuck Wicks, Chris Young. (Alabama, Jimmy Buffett and Ronnie Milsap are listed but are not on the active recording roster. All three have recent or impending releases.)
Universal South: Joe Nichols, Katrina Elam, Shooter Jennings, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Rockie Lynne, Matt Jenkins, Alvarado Road Show.
Warner Bros.: Big & Rich, Shannon Brown, Joanna Cotton, Faith Hill, Lori McKenna, Lance Miller, Anna Owens, Ray Scott, Blake Shelton, Rick Trevino, Berman Stewart, Brad Stine, Lucky Bucks.
Warner Bros./Raybaw: Cowboy Troy, James Otto, John Anderson.
Warner Bros./Jack: Jim Cosgrove, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy, Lisa Lampanelli, Naked Trucker, Kathleen Madigan, Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Henry Cho, Russell Peters, Ralphie May, Greg Behrendt.