Little Big Town

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Little Big Town
Little Big Town performing live on February 28, 2008. (L-R: Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman)
Background information
Origin Homewood, Alabama, United States
Genres Country
Years active 1998–present
  • Karen Fairchild
  • Kimberly Roads Schlapman
  • Phillip Sweet
  • Jimi Westbrook

Little Big Town is an American country music vocal group. Founded in 1998, the group has comprised the same four members since its foundation: Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman (née Kimberly Roads), Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet. Their musical style relies heavily on four-part vocal harmonies, with all four members alternating as lead singers; Westbrook and Sweet also play rhythm guitar.

After a recording deal with the Mercury Nashville Records label which produced no singles or albums, Little Big Town released its self-titled debut on Monument Records in 2002. It produced two minor country chart singles before the group left the label. By 2005, the group had been signed to Equity Music Group, an independent record label owned by Clint Black. Their second album, The Road to Here, was released that year, and received a platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). A Place to Land, their third album, was released via Equity, then re-released via Capitol Records after Equity closed in 2008. Three more albums have followed for Capitol: The Reason Why (2010), Tornado (2012), and 'Pain Killer' (2014). All of their albums have accounted for 18 singles on Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay, including the No. 1 singles "Pontoon" and "Girl Crush", along with the Top 10 hits "Boondocks", "Bring It On Home", "Little White Church", "Tornado", and "Day Drinking".

Musical career[edit]

Early years[edit]

In the mid-90s, Karen Fairchild sang with the Christian vocal group Truth and was featured as a lead singer in a few of their songs. She also formed a duo called KarenLeigh with Leigh Cappillino (from the group Point of Grace). KarenLeigh produced the singles, "Save it For a Rainy Day" and "This Love Has". In 1987, while attending Samford University in Alabama, she met Kimberly Roads. Eventually, they moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they reunited and began singing together.[1] Jimi Westbrook, a friend of Fairchild's husband, joined Roads and Fairchild in 1998,[2] followed by Phillip Sweet.

2000–02: Little Big Town[edit]

Little Big Town's first record deal was with Mercury Nashville Records, although the band was dropped from the label's roster without releasing a single or album.[1][2] In 2001, they sang backing vocals on Collin Raye's album Can't Back Down,[3] while Sweet and Roads co-wrote the song "Back Where I Belong" on Sherrié Austin's 2001 album Followin' a Feelin'.[4]

A second contract, this time with Monument Records Nashville, began in 2002. The band's first album, Little Big Town, was released that year. It produced the singles "Don't Waste My Time" and "Everything Changes", which peaked at 33 and 42 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Westbrook's father died in 2002, just after the group's first album was released. Fairchild and Sweet both divorced their spouses shortly afterward, and the group exited Monument when the label's Nashville branch was dissolved. The four members all took up day jobs to earn additional money, although they continued to tour as well.[1]

2005–09: The Road to Here and A Place to Land[edit]

In 2005, Little Big Town was signed to Equity Music Group, a label started and partially owned by country music singer Clint Black.[1] Their third single, "Boondocks", was released in May, peaking at No. 9 on the country charts in January 2006. It served as the first of four singles from the group's second album, The Road to Here, which was released on October 4, 2005. "Bring It On Home", the second single from the album, became Little Big Town's first Top 5 hit on Hot Country Songs. It was followed by "Good as Gone" and "A Little More You", both of which were Top 20 hits. By the end of 2006, The Road to Here had been certified Platinum in the United States. Unlike their first album, the group's members co-wrote the majority of the songs on The Road to Here along with Wayne Kirkpatrick, who also produced it. In 2007, the group sang backing vocals on John Mellencamp's Freedom's Road album.[5]

Little Big Town released A Place to Land, their third studio album and second with Equity, on November 6, 2007. Its lead-off single, "I'm with the Band", peaked at number 32 on the country chart. On April 23, 2008, Little Big Town announced it was leaving Equity for Capitol Nashville.[6] Shortly afterward, they charted with Sugarland and Jake Owen on a live cover of The Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town". Taken from Sugarland's 2007 tour, it reached number 28 on the country chart based on unsolicited airplay. In October 2008, Capitol re-released A Place to Land, which added four new songs, and the label promoted two further singles from the album, "Fine Line" and "Good Lord Willing".

In the fall of 2008, Little Big Town opened up for Carrie Underwood on her Carnival Ride Tour. They began their first headlining tour in January 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida and continued through April.[7]

Fairchild recorded a duet with Mellencamp on his 2008 album, Life, Death, Love and Freedom. The song, "A Ride Back Home", was released as the album's third single and was accompanied by a music video. Fairchild also duetted with Mellencamp on "My Sweet Love" and appears in its music video.

Little Big Town was nominated for Vocal Group Of The Year for the fourth year in a row at the 2009 CMA Awards.

2010–13: The Reason Why, Commercial Success and Tornado[edit]

In March 2010, the group released a new single titled "Little White Church", as the lead-off single to their fourth studio album and first completely new album on Capitol Nashville, The Reason Why, which was released on August 24, 2010. "Little White Church" peaked at number 6 on the country chart. The album produced two additional singles in "Kiss Goodbye" and the title track, but both failed to reach the Top 40 of Hot Country Songs.

The album's title track was released as a digital single on July 27, 2010, to begin an iTunes countdown to the album release on August 24, 2010. Three further digital singles — "Kiss Goodbye", "Why, Oh Why", and "All the Way Down" — were released weekly leading up until the album release. Also, in promotion of The Reason Why, Little Big Town went on tour as an opening act for Sugarland on The Incredible Machine Tour, as well their own The Reason Why Tour.

Little Big Town's fifth studio album, Tornado, was released on September 11, 2012. It was also their first album to be produced by Jay Joyce. "Pontoon" was released as the album's lead single on April 30, 2012, and became their first Number One hit on Hot Country Songs in September 2012. It was their first single to receive a Platinum certification. The title track was released as the album's second single on October 1, 2012. It reached number 2 on the Country Airplay chart in 2013. At the 55th Grammy Awards, "Pontoon" won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.[8] The album was certified gold by the RIAA in December 2012.[9]

The band joined Rascal Flatts on their Changed Tour, along with Eli Young Band and Edens Edge, for dates spanning Summer 2012. They played at the C2C: Country to Country festival in London on March 16, 2013.[10]

The album's third single, "Your Side of the Bed", was a number 27 hit.

The band sang background vocals on Ashley Monroe's 2013 single, "You Got Me", featured on her 2013 release, Like a Rose. Group member Karen Fairchild co-wrote the song with Monroe.[11] It failed to chart.

The album's fourth single, "Sober", was a number 31 hit.

2014–present: Pain Killer and Grand Ole Opry invitation[edit]

Little Big Town performed harmony vocals on David Nail's 2014 album, I'm a Fire, on the song "When They're Gone (Lyle County)", co-written by Brett Eldredge. They were also featured on Miranda Lambert's 2014 album, Platinum, on "Smokin' and Drinkin'", a song which the band was going to record themselves;[12] it debuted on Billboard's Country Airplay chart at number 38 after their performance at the CMA Awards in 2014.

The band began recording their sixth studio album, Pain Killer, in early 2014. The lead single, "Day Drinking", was released digitally June 3,[13] and was sent to country radio on June 9.[14] It debuted on the Country Airplay chart at number 32, their highest-ever debut, and went on to peak at number 2 on Country Airplay. It hit number 1 on the Canada Country chart, becoming their second number 1 single and first as songwriters. Pain Killer's track listing was announced on July 14,[15] and the album was released on October 21.

On October 3, 2014, Reba McEntire invited the group to join the Grand Ole Opry. They accepted and were inducted by Vince Gill on October 17.[16]

The second single from the album, "Girl Crush", was released December 15, 2014. Some radio stations were reported to have pulled "Girl Crush" from their playlists, in response to concerns from listeners who interpreted the song's lyrics to be about lesbianism. In response, Fairchild said, "That’s just shocking to me, the close-mindedness of that, when that’s just not what the song was about…But what if it were? It’s just a greater issue of listening to a song for what it is." In addition, the label created a short commercial in which the band discusses the song and its actual meaning.[17] Billboard consulted several radio program directors on its panel and found only one who detailed a specific complaint from a listener.[18] The song became their second No. 1 on a Billboard chart in May 2015 and their highest showing on the Billboard Hot 100 after gaining exposure on "The Voice" and the 50th Annual ACM Awards. The album's third single and the title track, released to country radio on August 24, 2015.

On September 9, 2015, the group was nominated for five CMA Awards: Vocal Group of the Year, Album of the Year for Pain Killer, Single of the Year for "Girl Crush", Music Video of the Year for "Girl Crush" and Musical Event of the Year for their collaboration on the Miranda Lambert single "Smokin' and Drinkin'". They tied Eric Church for most nominations that year. Additionally, the songwriters of "Girl Crush" were recognized with a Song of the Year nomination.

The band will soon begin working on their first Christmas album.[19]





Personal lives[edit]

Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook married on May 31, 2006, although their marriage was not disclosed until two months later. The couple welcomed their first child, a son (Elijah Dylan Westbrook), on March 5, 2010, in Nashville.

Kimberly Roads married Stephen Schlapman on November 28, 2006,[20] and gave birth to a daughter (Daisy Pearl Schlapman) on July 27, 2007.[21] She now goes by her husband's last name, Schlapman.[22] Kimberly was previously married to Steven Roads, who died from a heart attack in 2005. He was also the band's lawyer.[23]

Phillip Sweet married Rebecca Arthur, a business owner and wardrobe stylist, on March 30, 2007. Arthur gave birth to a daughter (Penelopi Jane Sweet) at 5:47 p.m. CT on December 27, 2007, at the Baptist Hospital in Nashville.[24]

Musical stylings[edit]

Little Big Town's musical stylings are defined by four-part vocal harmonies. Unlike most vocal groups, Little Big Town does not feature a set lead singer.[2] Instead, their songs are either led by any one of the four members, or by all four in varying combinations (such as on "Boondocks" and "Life in a Northern Town").

Awards and nominations[edit]

CMA Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2006 Themselves Horizon Award Nominated
Vocal Group of the Year Nominated
2007 Horizon Award Nominated
Vocal Group of the Year Nominated
"Life in a Northern Town"(with Sugarland and Jake Owen) Musical Event of the Year Nominated
2009 Themselves Vocal Group of the Year Nominated
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated
2012 Won
"Pontoon" Single of the Year Won
Music Video of the Year Nominated
2013 Song of the Year (performer) Nominated
Tornado Album of the Year Nominated
"Tornado" Music Video of the Year Nominated
Themselves Vocal Group of the Year Won
2014 Won
2015 Pending
"Girl Crush" Single of the Year Pending
Song of the Year (performer) Pending
Music Video of the Year Pending
Pain Killer Album of the Year Pending
"Smokin' and Drinkin'" (with Miranda Lambert) Musical Event of the Year Pending

ACM Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2006 Themselves Top New Vocal Duo/Group Nominated
Top Vocal Group Nominated
2007 Top New Vocal Duo/Group Won
Top Vocal Group Nominated
2008 Nominated
2009 "Life in a Northern Town"(with Sugarland and Jake Owen) Vocal Event of the Year Nominated
Themselves Top Vocal Group Nominated
2010 Nominated
2011 Nominated
2013 "Pontoon" Single of the Year Nominated
Tornado Album of the Year Nominated
"Tornado" Music Video of the Year Won
Themselves Vocal Group of the Year Won
2014 Nominated
2015 Won
Pain Killer Album of the Year Nominated

CMT Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2006 "Boondocks" Duo/Group Video of the Year Nominated
2007 "Good as Gone" Group Video of the Year Nominated
2009 "Life in a Northern Town"(with Sugarland and Jake Owen) Collaborative Video of the Year Nominated
CMT Performance of the Year Nominated
2011 "Little White Church" Group Video of the Year Nominated
2012 "Fix You" CMT Performance of the Year Nominated
2013 "Pontoon" Group Video of the Year Nominated
"Tornado" Video of the Year Nominated
2014 "Your Side of the Bed" Group Video of the Year Nominated
2015 "Day Drinking" Group Video of the Year Nominated

GRAMMY Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2007 The Road to Here Best Country Album Nominated
"Boondocks" Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo/Group Nominated
2009 "Life in a Northern Town"(with Sugarland and Jake Owen) Best Country Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2011 "Little White Church" Best Country Performance by a Duo/Group with Vocals Nominated
2013 "Pontoon" Best Country Duo/Group Performance Won
2014 "Your Side Of The Bed" Best Country Duo/Group Performance Nominated
2015 "Day Drinking" Best Country Duo/Group Performance Nominated

American Country Awards (ACA)[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2010 "Little White Church" Music Video: Duo or Group Nominated
Single of the Year: Duo or Group Nominated
2012 "Pontoon" Music Video of the Year: Group or Collaboration Won
2013 "Tornado" Nominated
Single of the Year: Duo or Group Nominated
Great American Country – Music Video of the Year Nominated
Themselves Artist of the Year: Duo or Group Nominated

Teen Choice Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2011 Themselves Choice Country Group Nominated
2013 Nominated

Daytime Emmy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result
2013 "Good Afternoon" Outstanding Original Song Won


  1. ^ a b c d Mansfield, Brian (2006-10-22). "Success no longer on Town's outskirts". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  2. ^ a b c Ruhlmann, William. "Little Big Town biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  3. ^ Can't Back Down (CD insert). Collin Raye. Epic Records. 2001. 85794. 
  4. ^ Konicki Dinoia, Maria. "Followin' a Feelin‍ '​". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Thom Jurek. "Freedom's Road - John Mellencamp - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Little Big Town Signs With Capitol Nashville". Billboard. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Award Winners". GRAMMY Awards. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Little Big Town Wraps Up 2012 With Performance On The Season Finale Of The X-Factor". Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood Set to Headline London’s First-Ever Country to Country Music Festival". Taste of Country. 10 December 2012. Archived from the original on 10 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  11. ^ Stephen L. Betts (March 5, 2013). "Ashley Monroe, 'Like a Rose' Album Is Thorns-and-All Approach to Country Music (Exclusive Interview)". The Boot. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Miranda Lambert Sets ACM Record With 5 Consecutive Female Vocalist Of The Year Wins". Sony Music Nashville. Retrieved April 11, 2014. 
  13. ^ Reuter, Annie. "Listen: Little Big Town Put in Competition for Country Summer Jam with ‘Day Drinking’". Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  14. ^ "R&R: Going for Adds: Country: June 9, 2014". Radio & Records. Retrieved June 3, 2014. 
  15. ^ "SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM 'PAIN KILLER' OCTOBER 21ST!". Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Little Big Town to Join the Grand Ole Opry". Country Weekly. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  17. ^ Yahr, Emily (March 25, 2015). "Why stations are pulling Little Big Town’s ‘Girl Crush’ — and what that says about country radio". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  18. ^ Stark, Phyllis (March 27, 2015). "Controversy Over Little Big Town's 'Girl Crush' & Its 'Lesbian Theme' Is Mostly Fabricated". Billboard. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  19. ^ Bell, Rebekah (May 5, 2015). "Little Big Town to Release a Christmas Album This Winter". Taste of Country. Retrieved May 11, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Little Big Town's Kimberly Roads Weds". Great American Country. 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  21. ^ "It's a Girl for LBT's Kimberly Roads!". Great American Country. 2007-07-30. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  22. ^ Alan Sculley. "Little Big Town keeps sound from 'The Road to Here'". CCCT. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Cornelia native has No. 1 video with Little Big Town
  24. ^ Little Big Town's Phillip & Rebecca Sweet Have a Daughter - Little Big Town, Babies :

External links[edit]