Kevin Richardson (musician)
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Richardson on tour, December 4, 2005
Kevin Scott Richardson
October 3, 1971
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
|Alma mater||Estill County High School|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
Kristin Willits (m. 2000)
Kevin Scott Richardson (born October 3, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, actor and model, best known as a member of the Backstreet Boys. Richardson was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame along with his cousin and bandmate Brian Littrell on April 10, 2015.
Growing up, Kevin lived on a 10-acre farm with his parents and two older brothers (Jerald Wayne Jr. and Tim), one of whom is a model, for 9 years and later lived in a log cabin at Cathedral Domain Camp, a church-owned youth camp which his father ran, where he worked as a camp counselor, met his best friend Keith and was a regular at the camp talent shows until he was 18. He spent his childhood in the outdoors, and could already ride a horse at age 4. When he was a kid in school, he enjoyed horseback riding, dirt bikes and was drawn to sports, such as playing little league football, which led him to play football in high school and being captain of his team called the Estill Engineers. He also got the nickname Train because he ran through guys like a train on the team. Along with the other Backstreet Boys, Richardson took a DNA test which revealed that he is 44.1% English, 36.2% North and West European, and 19.7% Irish, Scottish and Welsh.
At a young age, Richardson loved music and started learning how to play the piano by ear when he was 9 years old. He sang in his church's choir since he was a child and was a part of his community and high school theater. He got his first keyboard when he was a high school freshman and it was just a short time before he was entertaining in restaurants and at weddings in a band called Paradise, which did covers of Bobby Brown and Journey. He also adored performing, participating in the school theater, was a member of the school's drama club, and sang in chorus. Of his two loves, acting and music, the latter ultimately won out. He was also a member of the chess club and participated in various school plays such as Bye Bye Birdie and Barefoot in the Park at Estill County High School in Kentucky, where he was voted "Most Popular", "Best Dressed", "Best Dancer", "Best Look" and "Best Looking". He also was in a lot talent shows, one where he sang a duet with a female classmate and played in a band where he was on the drums. His father Jerald Wayne Richardson died on August 26, 1991 after a 2-year battle with cancer, when Kevin was 19.
After graduating high school in 1990, Richardson was torn between entering the Air Force to join the Air Force band, or following the lure of performing by attending the New York American Music and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. With encouragement from his father, Richardson flew to Orlando, Florida with his best friend Jimmy, where he earned a living as a model, writing music, performing in dinner clubs, taught ballroom dancing as a certified Latin and ballroom dance instructor and was an extra for the film My Girl. In Florida, he got a job as a cast member and performer at Walt Disney World. He played various characters including Aladdin, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Prince Eric, Tigger, and Sebastian the Crab in the Little Mermaid show. He was also a backstage tour guide. At nights, he did dinner theater, playing an Italian gangster in a musical review performing various songs from the musical "Chicago," "Guys and Dolls" and "Cabaret."
In June 1991, Richardson got a call from his mother, telling him that his father had taken a turn for the worse with his colon cancer. Richardson's father had been diagnosed in October 1990, but his family did not tell Richardson so that he would not worry. After the phone call, Richardson moved back home to Kentucky and stayed with his family. On August 26, 1991, Richardson's father died. Richardson stayed in Kentucky for almost a year, then after encouragement from his mother, he went back to Florida to follow his dreams of a music career. He got a job with a friend who had written a musical, he gave him a part and helped him get back on his feet again.
In March 1993, Richardson was going to auditions at MGM Studios when a friend told him about "Three guys who sang a capella all the time". So, after seeing an ad about a new vocal group called Backstreet Boys, he went to check them out, auditioned, and joined the group. Soon after, he brought his cousin Brian into the mix.
In 1993, Richardson joined a new group called Backstreet Boys. After he joined, the group was still looking for one more member so Richardson called Brian Littrell, who is Richardson's first cousin (Littrell's father and Richardson's mother are siblings), to ask him to audition for the group. Littrell was immediately accepted, and the next day he joined the group. After Littrell joined, the quintet took shape.
Richardson is the oldest member of the group and often known as the big brother of the group. In November 1999, he was named People Magazine's Sexiest Pop Star and the band signed a new $60 million deal with Jive records. Richardson was a part of the group until June 2006, when he announced his departure from the group to pursue other projects and to start a family and "move on with the next chapter of [his] life." He recorded five albums with the group in the span of 13 years. On June 23, 2006 he issued the following statement on the band's official website:
After 13 years of what can only be described as a dream come true, I have decided that it is time to leave the Backstreet Boys. It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life. Howie, Brian, A.J., and Nick will always be my little brothers and have my utmost love and support. I would like to thank the Backstreet fans for all the beautiful memories we have shared together and look forward to including you in the next phase of my life. I wish my brothers continued success and look forward to their new album.
On November 23, 2008, for the first time since leaving the group, Richardson rejoined his former bandmates on stage in Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, performing the encore, "Shape of My Heart" with the group.
The Backstreet Boys, including Richardson, appeared on the November 4, 2010, episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Richardson first appeared in a pre-taped segment in which they surprised a fan who thought she was merely being flown in to participate in a "Backstreet Boys' Biggest Fan" contest. Moments later, Richardson joined the group in the show's studio and performed "I Want It That Way" live with them.
On July 1, 2011, Richardson again joined the Backstreet Boys on stage at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, as part of the NKOTBSB Tour, performing "I Want It That Way" with the group and the mash up at the end of the show along with NKOTB members.
Being back with my brothers again feels great. I love these guys. We have gone through so much together. We just have a chemistry... a bond that will always be.— Kevin Richardson, Rolling Stone
On the October 25, 2011, episode of On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Richardson stated that he was going to be at a Backstreet Boys beach party in Nassau, Bahamas, on December 3, 2011. The party is part of the group's second annual cruise. He also appeared during the groups annual cruise in December 2011. He attended the beach party and the cruise concert. In addition to being in the party, Richardson performed several songs with the group on the boat in the evening ("Drowning" and "I Still..."). In the announcement, he also stated that he would love to perform with the group again on a more regular basis. The group had hinted a possible return for Richardson during the beach party but nothing was confirmed.
Several months later prior to the start of the group's tour in Europe with New Kids on the Block, Richardson had flown out to London with Nick and AJ in April 2012. Fans at the airport asked if he was back with the group and why he was with them. Richardson stated that he was only there to hang out with them. On April 29, 2012, during a live show in London, England, Backstreet Boys confirmed that Richardson was back permanently with the group and would be recording a new album with them in July 2012. Fans all around the world got to witness this announcement live as it happened. As it was broadcast live in cinemas in Europe and online for the rest of the world. Richardson also appeared along with the group on Good Morning America on July 17, 2012, announcing his return, their new album, and their first performance as a five-piece group for the first time together since 2006 at the morning show's Summer Concert Series on August 31, 2012. It was also his first TV appearance with the group since he returned. Regarding his return, Richardson gave the following statement why he had left the group: "I'm a person that always follows my heart and follows my gut and my heart said now's the time. It just felt right. I feel inspired to make music again with these guys and you know, when I left, it had nothing at all to do with our relationship. It just had to do with me just needing to be inspired, so I had to step away for a while."
In an interview with On Air with Ryan Seacrest on July 24, 2012, Richardson explained that he came back to the group because he realized how much joy singing and music gives him. He cited his holiday show with Rob Gonzalez called "Home for the Holidays" (December 18, 2011 in Los Angeles) which helped him rediscover his love of music and how much he missed it.
Outside the group, Richardson completed various projects. He composed the soundtrack to the animated film The Spirit Bear in 2003 that was set to be released in 2010 after several years of delay.
In August 2003, Kevin joined forces with longtime friend Keith McGuffey and opened a Music Academy called The Music Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky. The academy opened to help others learn the 'tricks of the trade' of the music industry – studio technology, song writing, and contract negotiations.
On December 18, 2011, Richardson headlined a Christmas concert titled "Home for the Holidays" with Rob Gonzalez. The concert was hosted by Montage Beverly Hills luxury hotel and it benefited the Angeles Clinic Foundation of Los Angeles.
In 2012, Richardson began working on his first solo album. During the 2013 Backstreet Boys cruise when each member had their own individual events, Richardson performed an event called Cover Story where he performed various covers of songs. He had mentioned that he would release an album called Cover Story. The album would include songs that have influenced him over the years. The album was supposed to be released in 2012 but was delayed as he returned as an active member of the Backstreet Boys the same year. On May 9, 2015, he posted onto YouTube a new track he recorded from his Cover Story album that he planned to release in 2015. The song was "She's Got a Way", a cover of the Billy Joel song. As of 2017, the album has not been released.
During the Backstreet Boys' hiatus in 2003, Richardson went into acting. He played the role of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in the Broadway production of Chicago. He was a part of the show in New York City (January 20 – March 9), Pittsburgh (July 26–27), San Francisco (August 6–24) and the West End of London (September 22 – November 1). In 2003, he made an appearance on Punk'd where he got punk'd by Ashton Kutcher.
After leaving the group, he returned to performing in Chicago. On November 14, 2006, he returned to New York City with many Chicago alumni for the 10th anniversary of the show. From late November to December 3, 2006, Richardson played the role of Billy Flynn in Toronto, and in Japan in February 2007. He returned to Japan with the show in September 2009 through early October, and then in Louisville, Kentucky from October 29 to November 1, 2009.
Richardson also filmed some movies during his time away from the group. His first film was the TV film in the 2009 Christian drama Love Takes Wing, based on a book by Janette Oke, playing the part of Cyrus in 2009.
Richardson filmed some small independent movies in 2010. He starred in The Bloody Indulgent, a vampire themed musical film, also starred opposite Susan Traylor, Daniela Sea, Pleasant Gehman, Garrett Swann and Michael Maize in Steve Balderson's feature film drama The Casserole Club. Richardson had won an Independent Vision Award for Best Actor in the film at Vision Fest in New York City in 2011. and a short film Unwound in 2011. It is an entry for Producers Guild of America premiere Weekend Shorts Event contest to benefit the Debra Hill Foundation. The short film only took 51 hours from script to final cut.
In 2013, Richardson and the other Backstreet Boys appeared as fictional versions of themselves in the comedy film This Is the End.
In 2015, Richardson filmed an independent film called If I Could Tell You, a short movie about infertility, which was released in 2016, where he also talked about his struggle in having children.
Just Within Reach (JWR) was formed by Richardson and started in honor of his father Jerald Wayne Richardson. Richardson wanted to name the foundation after his father, whom he lost to cancer. Richardson formed the JWR foundation to provide environmental education and promote personal responsibility and accountability with regard to the health of the Earth. The foundation was founded in January 2001. He has also run with the Olympic torch for the foundation in Los Angeles, California, on January 15, 2001 and did various events for the foundation. It has been many years since he has done anything with the foundation and reportedly closed it.
Richardson has been married to Kristin Kay Willits, a dancer, actress, photographer and model, since 2000. They met when they both worked at Disney World. Kristin was dancing in Beauty and the Beast as a jello-mold and a maid while playing the character of Snow White in "the Lion King" Show. Kristin was also featured in one of the Backstreet Boys earliest videos "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and one of the dancers at the American Music Awards in 1999. He proposed to her over the holidays at the same place where they said "I love you", and their engagement, along with bandmate and cousin Brian Littrell's to Leighanne Wallace, was announced on MTV in February 2000. The couple married on June 17, 2000, at the Cathedral Domain Camp and Conference Center in rural Lee County in eastern Kentucky. Together they have two sons. Kristin was featured in the 2015 documentary Pushing Motherhood, in which she speaks openly about her and Kevin's struggles with fertility.
- Solo albums
- Cover Story (2012, unreleased)
|TV series and films|
|1991||My Girl||Bumper Car Driver|
|1998||Sabrina the Teenage Witch||Himself||Episode: "Battle of the bands"|
|2002||Arthur||Himself||Episode: "Arthur, It's Only Rock and Roll" Guest Voice|
|2002||Fear Factor||Himself||Episode: "Celebrity Fear Factor"|
|2009||Love Takes Wing||Cyrus|
|2010||The Casserole Club||Conrad Bainbridge||Independent Vision Award – Best Actor|
|2012||The Bloody Indulgent||Burt|
|2013||This Is the End||Himself||With the Backstreet Boys, performing "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"|
|2013||El Hormiguero||Himself||Musical Guest With The Backstreet Boys|
|2014||I Heart Nick Carter||Himself|
|2016||If I Could Tell You||Derek|
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