Little Big Town is an American country music vocal group. Founded in 1998, the group has comprised the same four members since its inception: Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet. The quartet's musical style relies heavily on four-part vocal harmonies, with all four members alternating as lead singers, a formula similar to The Mamas & the Papas and Peter, Paul and Mary. 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 their 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. Certified platinum in the US, it produced consecutive Top Ten singles on the country charts in "Boondocks" and "Bring It On Home". A Place to Land is the title of their third album, released in 2007. This album's first single, "I'm with the Band", was a Top 40 hit on the country charts. Shortly after its release, the group was transferred to Capitol Records Nashville, which acquired the rights to A Place to Land and released "Fine Line" and "Good Lord Willing" as its second and third singles, respectively. The latter song is new to the re-release. 2010's The Reason Why, their first release exclusively for Capitol, produced the Top 10 hit "Little White Church", while 2012's Tornado produced their first number 1 hit in "Pontoon".
Little Big Town have charted 14 songs on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This figure includes a Christmas single which was made available only as a download, and a live cover of "Life in a Northern Town" (along with Sugarland and Jake Owen) which charted in 2008 based on unsolicited airplay.
In the mid-90s, Karen 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 the state of Alabama, singers Kimberly Roads and Karen Fairchild met. Eventually, the two moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where they reunited and began singing together. Jimi Westbrook, a friend of Fairchild's husband, joined Roads and Fairchild in 1998.
2000-2002: Little Big Town
Little Big Town's first record deal was with Mercury Nashville Records. The quartet did not release any singles or albums on the label. In 2001, they sang backing vocals on Collin Raye's album Can't Back Down. Also, Sweet and Roads co-wrote the song "Back Where I Belong" on Sherrié Austin's 2001 album Followin' a Feelin'.
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 respectively peaked at number 33 and number 42 on the US Billboard country charts. Westbrook's father died in 2002, just after the group's first album was released. Fairchild and Sweet both divorced their respective 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.
2005-2009: The Road to Here and A Place to Land
In 2005, Little Big Town was signed to Equity Music Group, a label started and partially owned by country music singer Clint Black. Their third single, "Boondocks", was released in May, peaking at number nine in January 2006. "Boondocks" 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 the Hot Country Songs chart. 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 producer Wayne Kirkpatrick. In 2007, the group sang backing vocals on John Mellencamp's Freedom's Road album.
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 charts. On April 23, 2008, Little Big Town announced it was leaving Equity for Capitol Nashville. Shortly afterward, they charted along with Sugarland and Jake Owen on a live cover of The Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town". This live recording, taken from Sugarland's 2007 tour, reached number 28 on the country charts 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 in "Fine Line" and "Good Lord Willing."
In the fall of 2008, Little Big Town opened up for Carrie Underwood on her Carnival Ride Tour to support the album, before starting their first headlining tour in 2009. Their tour began in January in Jacksonville, Florida and continued through April.
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 is accompanied by a music video. Fairchild also duets with Mellencamp on "My Sweet Love" and appears in its music video, from the same album.
Little Big Town was nominated for Vocal Group Of The Year for the fourth year in a row on the 2009 CMA Awards.
2010-2013: The Reason Why, Commercial Success and Tornado
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 charts. The album produced two additional singles in "Kiss Goodbye" and the title track, but both failed to reach the Top 40 and peaked at number 42 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
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 produced by Jay Joyce, who is known for producing Eric Church. "Pontoon" was released as the album's lead single on April 30, 2012, and became their first Number One hit on the Hot Country Songs chart in September 2012. It also was Little Big Town's highest showing on the Hot 100, and their first single to receive a Platinum certification. The title track was released as the album's second single on October 1, 2012. The song debuted at number 47 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart one week before impact and 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. The album was certified gold by the RIAA in December 2012.
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.
The album's third single, "Your Side of the Bed", was sent to country radio on April 8, 2013. The band sings 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. The song failed to chart.
The album's fourth single, "Sober", was released September 30, 2013.
2014-present: Pain Killer & Grand Ole Opry invitation
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 a song called "Smokin' and Drinkin'", a song which the band was to record themselves. It debuted on Billboard's Country Airplay chart at number 38 after their performance of the song 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, and was sent to country radio on June 9. The song debuted on the Country Airplay chart at number 32, their highest-ever chart debut. Pain Killer's track listing was announced on July 14, 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.
The second single from the album, "Girl Crush", was released December 15, 2014.