What happens when a group of friends join together to create music? Little Big Town. Founded in 1998, college friends Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman (née Kimberly Roads) were a Nashville duet when Jimi Westbrook, a friend of Fairchild’s husband joined up with them, shortly followed by Phillip Sweet. Their music is a beautiful mix of four part harmonies with Sweet and Westbrook pulling double duty by playing rhythm guitar. Little Big Town doesn’t have a lead singer with backup vocals: all four artists get a chance to sing the lead which leads the audience to love each vocalist as their own artist as well. Initially signed with Mercury Nashville Records, the band was dropped without producing a single or album. In 2002, the band signed a recording deal with Monument Records Nashville, releasing their self-titled debut album, Little Big Town. The album featured a singles "Don't Waste My Time" and "Everything Changes", which peaked at 33 and 42 on the Billboard Top Country Songs chart. Just like a country song, tragedy struck the band when Jimi Westbrook’s father died shortly after the album’s release and when Fairchild and Sweet divorced their spouses. To make matters worse, Monument Records dissolved the Nashville branch causing them to lose their label. The musicians continued to tour while holding day jobs.
In 2005, Little Big Town signed with Equity Music Group and released their second album The Road to Here, which featured four singles and reached platinum status. This album earned them their first of four CMA nominations, followed by three more consecutively. Their third album A Place to Land, released in 2007, was their last to be recorded on the Equity label: Little Big Town announced in 2008 that they were leaving Equity Recording Group for Capitol Nashville. The album was re-released in 2008 by Capitol, with a few additional songs added to it. After opening up for Carrie Underwood on her Carnival Ride Tour in the fall of 2008, Little Big Town started to headline on their own tour starting in January 2009. On July 27, 2010, the band started to release weekly singles on iTunes to get additional publicity in the form of a countdown for their next album The Reason Why. “Little White Church”, the first single, released in March, reached number 6 on the country charts. With Tornado, Little Big Town’s fifth album, things started to change for the better. Their first single “Pontoon” became their first number 1 single on the country charts as well as their first platinum single. Not only that, but “Pontoon” won them their first Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
Little Big Town Pain Killer & The Pain Killer Tour
Similarly to Tornado, Little Big Town’s next album Pain Killer received quite a bit of press, however, some of it was negative. Several radio stations pulled the album’s second single “Girl Crush” after there were concerns about the songs message, which some interpreted as lesbianism. Upset, the band went as far as creating a commercial to explain the meaning of the single. Even though the song was controversial in nature, it received one of the five AMC Award nominations for Song of the Year. In March 2015, Little Big Town announced their Pain Killer tour. A majority of the shows are performed without an opening act, however, the New Year’s Eve show features fellow country artist, Holly Williams. The Pain Killer Tour is scheduled to hit many US cities with stops in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Greensville, South Carolina, and Seattle, Washington with a stop in Abbotsville, Canada and London.