Compilation WOW Gospel 2016, the 19th edition of the annual series (begun in 1998), opens at No. 1 on Top Gospel Albums. The 38-track set bows with 7,000 sold in the week ending Feb. 4, according to Nielsen Music. Of the 19 albums, 17 (all consecutively since 2000) have hit the summit; 2006's brought the best starting sum: 43,000.
The WOW franchise is unique in that the artists featured are from the three major gospel labels (Motown Gospel, RCA Inspiration and Word-Curb). The new set includes, among others, Tasha Cobbs, Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann. "There's a huge appetite for gospel music, so when you pair that with an album full of the genre's top hits, fans react," says RCA Inspiration vp national sales Mark Michel. "It's a win-win for all the labels involved."