Keith answers readers' questions on Tori Amos, Toni Braxton, Stevie Nicks, Donna Summer and more!

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at askbb@billboard.com.


TORI AMOS GETS GRAPHIC

Keith,

On Epic Records' official Web site Tori Amos' name has disappeared from (their artist roster).

Is her contract with Epic over?

Then, is it true, as reported on drummer Matt Chamberlain's site, that she is working in the studio on some new material?

Thank you for your attention,
Fabrizio Leone


Hello Fabrizio,

I reached out to Tori Amos' manager, John Witherspoon, for comment. He responded: "After 22 years of being in the shackles of the major label system, Tori has chosen the path of independence for her next work. As with many of her contemporaries Tori is devising new and exciting ways of getting her music to the masses without the boundaries and limitations of the major music companies."

He continues, "This will commence with a project of new music and visuals which is being started in the summer and due for release in Spring 2009."

He clarified that Chamberlain was with Amos in order to play on demo recordings for the musical she is writing for the British National Theater titled "The Light Princess."

Until then, fans of Amos should be on the lookout for the new graphic novel "Comic Book Tattoo," based on Amos' work, due in July through Image Comics.




REVEALING BRAXTON

Hi Keith,

I'm a big Toni Braxton fan and just wanted to know if you could possibly tell me where she ranks in terms of best selling artists in history, both in R&B music and overall.

Thank you so much,
Marvin Phidd


Hi Marvin,

As you are a big fan of Braxton's, I hope you were able to see her in Las Vegas during her long-running "Revealed" show at the Flamingo Hotel.

Unfortunately, her continuing undisclosed health issues forced the closure of the show yesterday (May 29). The show had been dark since April 7, when the singer was hospitalized due to chest pains.

The "Revealed" show opened in August 2006 and was slated to continue through August of this year.

Let's now focus on Braxton's album sales. Since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991, Braxton has sold 14.5 million albums in the U.S.

That makes her the No. 111th biggest-selling artist overall and the sixth best-selling R&B female singer since 1991. Among female R&B singers, since 1991, only Mariah Carey (51 million), Mary J. Blige (21.4 million), Janet Jackson (19.7), Sade (16.5) and Alicia Keys (15.1) have sold more albums in the U.S. than Braxton.



TICKS OF NICKS

Hello,

I am a huge fan of Stevie Nicks and I (along with many of her other fans) are very interested in the sales figures of some of her albums.

Can you tell us how many copies of "Crystal Visions," "Trouble in Shangri-La" and "Rock a Little" have been sold? Can you help us? There is no information like this on the Web.

Gary Brunton


Hi Gary,

So far, "Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks," has sold 215,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. So, it's still far off from earning a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. (Gold indicates that 500,000 units have been shipped to U.S. retailers. For more information about the RIAA and their gold and platinum certification program, visit their official Web site at www.riaa.com.)

2001's "Trouble in Shangri-La," Nicks' most recent studio album, has shifted 660,000. "Rock a Little," a 1985 album, has sold 99,000 since 1991 (when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking album sales).


COLORING IN SALES

Keith,

Hope you are well. I was quite disappointed on the first week sales of Donna Summer's (new album "Crayons").

Considering the publicity and press I thought it would chart higher. Are sales from Amazon and online sites count in the tally for Billboard's charts? I thought for sure after 17 years she would have opened with at least 50,000.

Vincent De Tiberiis


Hi Vincent,

Donna Summer's "Crayons," her first studio album since 1991, bowed at No. 17 on the Billboard 200, selling 23,000. That's her highest charting album since "She Works Hard for the Money" reached No. 9 in 1983.

Sales from Amazon are indeed counted towards our charts, including the Billboard 200. On our Top Internet Albums chart, which tracks the best-selling physical albums among those sold via Web sites, "Crayons"
debuted at No. 10 with just nearly 2,000.