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MSN Entertainment Presents the 2011 CMA Awards

Nov. 9 8/7c on ABC
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Next-Gen Country: New Stars Under 30

By Phyllis Stark
Special to MSN Music

Among the most interesting characteristics of the country format is that its viable stars can range in age from teens to seniors. Given the right songs, both ends of the spectrum have an equal chance of landing radio airplay and selling albums and concert tickets. So while there's unquestionably a youth movement keeping the format's lower demos fresh right now, last week the 59-year-old George Strait landed his 59th No. 1 hit. He's regularly joined on the charts by such mature, established stars as Ronnie Dunn, 58; Reba McEntire, 56; Kix Brooks, 56; Alan Jackson, 53; Trace Adkins, 50; and Toby Keith, 50. Still, it's the new generation that's generating the most excitement right now, particularly this group of hot country stars under the age of 30.

(Taylor Swift/MSN Music; Scotty McCreery/UMG Nashville; Lauren Alaina/UMG Nashville)

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