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Little Big Town Thought Their Career Was Over After the Death of Kimberly Schlapman’s First Husband

Little Big Town Kimberly Schlapman husband died
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Little Big Town are certainly at the top of their game these days, but they didn’t get there without weathering some pretty serious storms first.

Both Phillip Sweet and Karen Fairchild got divorced early on in the band’s career, just as Little Big Town were starting to find some moderate success. And then, in 2005, Kimberly Schlapman’s husband, Steven Roads — who was also the band’s lawyer — died suddenly of a heart attack, while the group was out on the road.

“I didn’t know she would sing again after Steve died,” Fairchild tells CBS News.

“I didn’t want to,” Schlapman interjects.

“There was so much sorrow in her eyes,” Fairchild continues. “So I didn’t think she would really sing. I kind of thought the band was over.”

But no one could have predicted Schlapman’s tenacity. Just a few days later, at Roads’ funeral, which was packed with people, Fairchild, Sweet and LBT’s fourth member, Jimi Westbrook, got up to sing “My Armageddon.” As the band sang, “Take me down, Armageddon / Take me down, I will go / I will reach for the heavens / As I reach the end of the road / Only love lives forever / There is love in my soul,” Schlapman spontaneously got up and joined the band in finishing the song.

“I remember sitting there going, ‘I need to say the words of this song,'” she recalls. “I think they were surprised and welcomed me, of course, and then I just literally had probably the most spiritual experience of my life. It was a tiny, tiny bit of healing that started. It was like this spark of the healing.”

The tragedy brought Little Big Town even closer together, and career success aside, their first commitment remains to each other.

“We take care of each other,” Fairchild maintains. “We’ve had the greatest lows and the greatest highs together. We didn’t know how to sing some of those lyrics. And now we do. We are a walking, breathing, living country song.”

Schlapman also found love again with her second husband, Stephen Schlapman, whom she wed in 2006.

“I had a lot of grief left, and he just took it and listened and accepted it and was so understanding and let me talk about my late husband all the time,” she boasts. “We still talk about him a lot, and he’s totally fine with it. He says that that made me who he fell in love with, and he never minds if I bring anything from the past up, which is just really sweet.”

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