LOS ANGELES -- To his eight Grammy nominations and slew of No. 1 singles, R&B singer Usher has added the honor of most-shipped US album of 2004 for ''Confessions," according to year-end certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America.
With 8 million units shipped to retailers, ''Confessions" is the highest-certified album in the star's catalog. His previous best was 1997's ''My Way."
Usher also picked up three honors under the RIAA's new digital awards program. ''Yeah!" was certified digital platinum for more than 200,000 downloads. The No. 1 singles ''Burn" and ''My Boo" with Alicia Keys went digital gold for more than 100,000 downloads.
George Strait earned this year's second-highest certified album, and top country album, for ''50 Number Ones," which was certified five times platinum. Strait's career has yielded more than 60 million total US shipments.
Norah Jones was the top female in 2004, with her sophomore effort, ''Feels Like Home," shipping 4 million units. Her 2002 debut ''Come Away With Me" is nine times platinum. Jones's ''Sunrise" earned a digital gold award.
Top debut by a female artist went to Gretchen Wilson's ''Here for the Party" and Ashlee Simpson's ''Autobiography," both with 3 million shipments.
Kanye West was the year's leading male newcomer, with double-platinum honors for ''The College Dropout."
In addition to earning the RIAA Diamond Award for 10 million shipments of last year's ''Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," OutKast joined Usher with three digital awards. ''Hey Ya!" grabbed the only multi-platinum award, while ''Roses" and ''The Way You Move" went platinum.
Another 2004 highlight was Ray Charles's posthumous ''Genius Loves Company," which earned the artist his first platinum and multi-platinum honors.
Several other artists picked up their first multi-platinum awards in 2004, including Maroon5, whose ''Songs About Jane" went triple-platinum. Earning their first double-platinum nods were Black Eyed Peas for ''Elephunk"; Brad Paisley, ''Mud on the Tires"; Jill Scott, ''Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Volume 1"; Keith Urban, ''Golden Road"; Pantera, ''Vulgar Display of Power"; and Switchfoot, ''Beautiful Letdown."
First-time platinum winners included Ciara, Five for Fighting, Anthony Hamilton, Jet, Josh Turner, Velvet Revolver, Michael McDonald, Yellowcard, Los Lonely Boys, and JoJo.