Nuns Top '50 Shades' In Classical Music Smackdown

Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album has been on Billboard's Classical Traditional Albums chart for 11 weeks, most recently in the top slot. But the album has been bumped this week by The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles — a group of singing nuns from Missouri. The Benedictines' album is called, Advent at Ephesus. Melissa Block and Robert Siegel have more.

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And now to a classical takedown.


BLOCK: That's Pachelbel's "Canon in D," and it appears on one of the hottest releases of the year, "Fifty Shades of Grey: The Classical Album."


Yes, the classical album. It's composed of works that inspired author E.L. James while she was writing her steamy best-selling trilogy. And it has spent 11 weeks on Billboard's Classical Traditional Albums chart, 10 of those in the top slot.

BLOCK: But now, "Fifty Shades of Grey" has been knocked from first place by, well, a different shade altogether.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN: Come thou redeemer of the earth, in thy admired virgin birth...

BLOCK: The new number one album is called "Advent at Ephesus" by the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles - that's a group of singing nuns from Missouri.


MONICA FITZGIBBONS: I doubt that they even know what "Fifty Shades of Grey" is, much less anything in the top 200. I mean, they're really unplugged.

SIEGEL: That's Monica Fitzgibbons, co-founder of De Montfort Music, the nuns' record label.

The album features Gregorian chants and traditional English and Latin hymns. The singing sisters have recorded three albums before this one, but "Advent at Ephesus" is their first with a major label and national distribution and their first number one hit.

MOTHER CECILIA: There's nothing like this out there on the market.

SIEGEL: That's Mother Cecilia, who appears on the album. She's the leader of the group.

MOTHER CECILIA: I mean, I think that, along with that hidden desire, maybe, in many souls to turn to the spiritual side, I think that's what is making us a success.

BLOCK: As for the success of that now-number-two album on Billboard's Classical Traditional Albums chart, Monica Fitzgibbons says...

FITZGIBBONS: It just goes to show you that art is different for everybody. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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