Littrell in June 2011
Brian Thomas Littrell
February 20, 1975
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
|Residence||Alpharetta, Georgia, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Tates Creek High School|
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
Leighanne Wallace (m. 2000)
|Children||Baylee Littrell (b. 2002)|
Brian Thomas Littrell (born February 20, 1975) is an American singer, songwriter and actor, best known as a member of the Backstreet Boys. He is also a CCM singer and released a solo album, Welcome Home, in 2006. Brian has had five top 20 solo singles on the Christian charts in the US.
Growing up, Littrell loved sports and is extremely skilled at gymnastics, which was shown in Everybody (Backstreet's Back), and played in both Little League and the Babe Ruth League. He comes from a very protective, religious family, his religion is Baptist and he first started singing in the choir of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington at a young age, where he sang his first solo at age 7, did some solos for Christmas or Easter when he was 10 and was voted President of the Youth Chorus by his peers one year, even sang a song for a Christmas album when he was only 8 years old and later sang in his high school choir and was selected in the State Chorus lineups for 2 successive years, a rare achievement. His choir teacher, Barry Turner, in 7th grade advised him that he could make money from singing at weddings and other events, which is what he did by the time he was 16. Brian also did school plays and was a part of the school production of Grease as Roger at Tates Creek High School. Initially that fame didn't impress his school friends. In the classroom, he was just another one of the guys. But this positive reinforcement changed in his junior year of high school, when his talent was finally recognized when he sang a duet of a spiritual song called 'Another Time, Another Place' with his first girlfriend in a Tates Creek High School talent show. His performance made his classmates - and Brian himself - realize the extent of his natural talent. Brian's vocals singing his part caused the female members of the crowd to scream and cheer so much that he couldn't hear himself. That experience, he says, was a total rush and left him craving more.
At 15, Littrell had aspirations to become a basketball player, but at just 1.73 m (5'7") he struggled with his height which led him to missing out on selection for the high school team, although he managed to play on his church team. He did some wrestling at school, as said in the documentary, and was even in a Firestone commercial, a car repair/tire chain when he was 15. In high school, Brian and some of his friends sing Top 40 songs a cappella in a group called Specialty. Besides school, he worked at Long John Silver's, a fast food chain,, Charter Ridge Hospital for the mentally ill and disabled people as a janitor, and at a church that he attended, and organizing the sanctuary as a wedding coordinator when he would also sing at other regional churches, revivals, weddings and parties.
Due to his Christian beliefs, music was always important to him, and he wanted to be a music minister and attend Cincinnati Bible College on a full scholarship, but in order to attend the college, Brian needed to be a senior to enroll. He also dreamed of one day playing for the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team for the university of Kentucky, But this would all change. While a junior in high school, Littrell’s cousin, Kevin called him out of an American History class and told him about auditioning for the Backstreet Boys, which he did over the phone at 9pm on April 19, 1993. The next day he changed plans and flew to Orlando where he'd become the final member of the Backstreet Boys. Eventually, he was able to finish high school through correspondence courses like AJ, even though Brian got to go to high school, and returned for finals and graduated in 1994.
Littrell was born with a congenital heart problem, a condition which made him incredibly susceptible to infections. The heart murmur was diagnosed when he was 6 weeks old. When he was 5 years old, he had to be taken to the hospital where he stayed for two months due to a bacterial infection from two weeks earlier. It has been said that doctors didn't expect him to live. Due to his hospitalization, Brian was held back in school and had to repeat the first grade again. In November 1997, doctors found the hole in his heart caused his heart to enlarge like a 300-pound linebacker and his life could be in danger if not operated on soon. But an open-heart surgery was delayed until May 1998, which lasted for 2 and a half hours, closed the hole and has since then recovered, as he said on his Hour of Power interview in 2007. After that he founded the Brian Littrell's "Healthy Heart Club" for kids, a non-profit organization that assists children with heart conditions through medical, financial and practical help.
Kevin Richardson, his cousin, called Littrell (Littrell's father and Richardson's mother are brother and sister) to join the Backstreet Boys on April 19, 1993. Littrell flew over to Orlando the next day and officially joined the group. In the beginning, there was no success in the United States, even though the first single had been a hit on Orlando radio stations. The band manager Lou Pearlman marketed the Backstreet Boys in Europe, where they became commercially successful in 1995. They became hugely popular in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the United States in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. During this time they released four albums, Backstreet Boys, Backstreet's Back, Millennium and Black & Blue followed by a greatest hits album, The Hits: Chapter One. After a three-year gap, they released their comeback album, Never Gone followed by Unbreakable, This is Us , In a World Like This and "DNA".
In 1997, Littrell was instrumental in bringing a lawsuit against the group's managers Lou Pearlman and Trans Continental claiming that Pearlman has not been truthful about the earnings made by the group. In the following year, McLean, Richardson and Dorough joined the lawsuit which eventually resulted in a number of settlements, details of which were not disclosed. In October 2009, Littrell became infected with the H1N1 virus, causing the cancellation of the Backstreet Boys This Is Us promotional tour.
Littrell, during the band's hiatus, became committed to a number of other show business activities, most of them for charity. He joined other celebrities in a yearly NBA tour where he plays basketball in every NBA city before a game. Aside from that, he has also played charity baseball games and remains highly active in the charity he founded, the Brian Littrell Healthy Heart Club for Kids. In 2000, he won the Teen People's 25 Hottest People Under 25, tying with Justin Timberlake.
For a long time, Littrell had wanted to record Christian music—what he calls "pop positive" music. In 2004 Brian signed a solo deal with Reunion Records and worked on a solo album. His first solo album was released on May 2, 2006, Welcome Home, which, like the Backstreet Boys projects, is a Sony BMG release. Brian co-wrote six of the songs on the album. The album sold over 100,000 copies in the US and reached No. 74 on the Billboard 200 charts. While on the Christian album charts it debut at No. 3. Four singles were released from the album. “In Christ Alone”, “Welcome Home (You)”, “Wish” and “Over My Head”. The first, “Welcome Home (You)”, reached No. 2 on the US Christian AC Charts. It was also No. 1 on Reach FM's Top 40 chart and on the US R&R Christian Inspirational charts for 3 weeks. The second single was "Wish" and, in 2007, the third single, "Over My Head", was released. During this time, he maintained his duties as a member of the Backstreet Boys. In the summer of 2005, his solo single, "In Christ Alone", went to No. 1 on the Christian charts on July 4.
Littrell won a GMA Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year for “In Christ Alone” in 2006 (along with songwriters Don Koch and Shawn Craig). As well as in 2008 for “By His Wounds” with Glory Revealed. He also won Special Event Album of the Year in 2008 for Glory Revealed which was a compilation album with many other Christian artists; and in 2010, Special Event Album of the Year for Glory Revealed II.
Littrell released two Christmas collections that feature his wife Leighanne and son Baylee: Brian Littrell’s Family Christmas, released on December 6, 2010, and Christmas with the Littrells, released on December 6, 2011. These albums were just EPs that contained only a few tracks.
TV and film appearances
Littrell made appearances with the Backstreet Boys on Arthur, Sesame Street, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1998). He also performed with The Backstreet Boys on Saturday Night Live, in 1998 and 1999. In 2002, Littrell voiced himself on an episode of Arthur. In 2013, Littrell made an appearance in the comedy This Is the End, along with the rest of the Backstreet Boys.
Littrell has an older brother Harold, a singer, actor and model, and is a cousin of fellow Backstreet Boys member Kevin. He would have had a little sister, but his mom miscarried. His grandfathers were Harold Baker Littrell Sr. and Robert Reed Fox. His grandmothers were Lucy L. Hill and Mae Milton. Like his cousin, he's English, Scottish, some German but he's also Finnish, Irish, Welsh and Scandinavian.
When Littrell first moved to Florida two months after joining the Backstreet Boys, he met Samantha Stonebraker through her partner in the New Song ensemble and Littrell's bandmate, A.J. McLean, and started dating. It was McLean who played Cupid, matching Littrell and Stonebraker, a Kissimmee native whose family has deep roots there. The relationship lasted four years (from 1993 to 1997) until a mutual split in ‘97 and Littrell even lived with Samantha's family for two years. She and her brother even made an appearance in the group's first video for We've Got It Goin' On. In 1998, after their breakup, she released the book What You Want to Know: Backstreet Boys Secrets Only a Girlfriend Can Tell, about their relationship and the Backstreet Boys.
While on the set of the Backstreet Boys music video for their single “As Long as You Love Me” in 1997, Littrell met model and actress, Leighanne Reena Wallace who was an extra in the video. He dated her for two years and proposed to her on Christmas Eve night of 1999, and their engagement, along with the engagement of Kevin Richardson to Kristin Willits, was announced on MTV in February 2000. They got married on September 2, 2000 at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Both are committed evangelical Christians. On November 26, 2002, they had a son, Baylee Littrell. Baylee appeared in the Broadway musical Disaster! in 2016 and came out with his first single, "Don’t Knock It", in 2018. As of 2019, the family lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, near Atlanta.
Littrell was born with a ventricular septal defect, or VSD, a type of congenital heart defect. He had corrective open heart surgery in 1998.
In the 2015 documentary film Backstreet Boys: Show 'Em What You're Made Of, Littrell revealed his 2011 diagnosis of vocal tension dysphonia and dystonia. He works with doctors and speech therapists to help improve his condition.
A devout Christian, Littrell has stated that he believes it is the duty of Christians to be open about their faith, saying, "I think as Christians we need to join hands and mount up together and lift God up and talk about our faith publicly and talk about all of the things God has done for us in our life to touch other people." Littrell, who has been a born again Christian since the age of 8, has said that he attributes his success in life to God, and that his faith has always been "the utmost important thing" in his life.
|TV series & Movies|
|2000||Olive Juice||Carriage Driver|
|1998||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||Himself||Episode: "Battle of the bands"|
|1998–1999||Saturday Night Live||Himself and Musical guest||"Julianne Moore/Backstreet Boys" (Season 23: episode 16)|
"Sarah Michelle Gellar/Backstreet Boys" (Season 24: episode 19)
|2002||Arthur||Himself||Episode: "Arthur, It's Only Rock and Roll" Guest Voice|
|2005||The Ellen DeGeneres Show||Himself||Musical Guest With The Backstreet Boys|
|2012||Late Night with Jimmy Fallon||Himself||Musical Guest with Backstreet Boys|
|2013||This Is the End||Himself||With the Backstreet Boys, performing "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"|
|2014||I Heart Nick Carter||Himself||minor|
|Year||Album details||Peak positions||Certifications|
|74||3||US sales: 100,000|
|2010||Brian Littrell’s Family Christmas
|2011||Christmas with the Littrells
|2005||"In Christ Alone"||1||Welcome Home|
|2006||"Welcome Home (You)"||2|
|2007||"Over My Head"||17|
|"By His Wounds" (with Mac Powell, Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman)||8||Glory Revealed|
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