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So it turns out that good country music doesn’t have to be born in the USA, afterall. The Shires are making headlines as the first British country act to reach the Top 10 of the UK Album Charts. The duo is made up of ACM vocal alumna Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle, and their band name reflects their distinctly British take on American folk music.

As a graduate of the ACM Vocal School, Crissie Rhodes cut her teeth performing songs at weddings, clubs, pubs and even made an appearance in the X Factor in 2013. She teamed up with Ben after the guitarist posted a message on Facebook seeking a country singer. Since then, the duo have gone from strength to strength, performing at the Country to Country Festival in 2014 and also receiving attention as part of a documentary entitled Nashville UK. The band went on to compose songs with hit Nashville songwriter Steve McEwan (Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw) and in April of 2014 they began work on their debut album, Brave.

Since its February 2015 release, Brave has made chart history and the rapid success seen by The Shires is an encouraging sign of the growing popularity of country music in the UK. Inspired by what commentators are calling the ‘Taylor Swift effect’, The Shires are reaching a much wider audience that might not have previously been thought possible for a country act, at least not one from the British Isles!

“A fantastic feat by this young British country act. No UK country act has ever made this kind of impact on the top before.”
Martin Talbot, Chief Executive of the Official Charts Company.

As a student of ACM, Crissie Rhodes joins a list of luminaries such as Ed Sheeran, Ted Dwane of Mumford & Sons and Newton Faulkner. ACM is extremely proud of Crissie’s record-breaking achievements with The Shires, and we wish her and Ben every success with their upcoming nationwide tour.

Keep up to date with The Shires by following them on Twitter & Facebook and via their Website.