Little Big Town ‘Instantly’ Knew They Were Meant to Work Together
A lot has changed for Little Big Town since they made their debut on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in 1999, but they've always known they were meant to play together.
Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman were in college choir together in Alabama and they moved to Nashville to pursue separate careers, but soon realized that they were meant to be in a band. Their search for members ended up with Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet joining the group, but not before they'd tried making music with a few other people first.
"We sang with these other guys and it either didn't feel like maybe the personalities would coexist, or it didn't feel like the sound was right," Schlapman tells NPR. "But then when we sang with Jimi, instantly there was not a question that was right. Then when we went lookin' for Phillip, the same thing kinda happened."
From the onset, the quartet has stuck by the idea of taking turns singing lead, but at the beginning of their career they were told by their label that it might be easier to have a consistent lead singer.
"But I think we never really bought into that idea," Sweet says.
"I just remember in the beginning thinking it'd be a shame if you didn't hear those three sing," Westbrook adds.
The group's most recent album, 'Painkiller,' landed on many best of 2014 lists and after six studio albums, it might be be easy for members of some bands to feel stuck in their roles, but Fairchild says that she thinks they've hit a good balance for using their personal creativity within the group.
"The greatest thing about being in a band, and the strength of having companionship and collaboration is also the thing that makes a band break up, because then you begin to feel confined," Fairchild says. "Like, who am I as an individual, as a writer, as a performer? Just all those things that I think individually we wrestle with."