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Little Big Town follows 'the road to here'

By Jeffrey B. Remz, December 2005

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Westbrook says he was confident about the song. "I know as soon as we recorded that song that ere was something special about it. It just lit everybody up. We were locked in the studio...We started calling our management team, and it just really lit everybody up. There was definitely something to the song."

"We really believed in it," says Fairchild of the song. "Of course, we've been through some disappointing things. It's hard not to guard your heart. You're afraid of putting out your soul again and getting stomped on. You just have to go with it. It's so nice, so rewarding that people, fans are digging the song and seem to really identify with (it). It's turned into this validation song...You can see people (when we sing) 'this is me/this is who I am', they're standing up in the crowd and holding up their beers to us. 'That's me man. I get it'. It's just great."

"I think we feel - I don't know if it's justified - I think we feel affirmed ...that our gut feeling is right. If everybody hadn't accepted this record, at night, we could have gone to bed peaceful, saying hey we did it this time. We know this is finally a reflection of who we are. We could have been okay with it, but it sure is a lot easier to be ok with it, and everybody likes it."

Perhaps the saddest song on the album is "Lost," especially given the death of Roads' husband, Steven, this past April.

A lawyer, he was very involved in helping out the band on the business side, negotiating contracts.

The song "was actually an idea that our producer just had," says Westbrook. "I think he actually had the idea before the tragedy that Kimberly and the rest of us suffered along with her. He had that idea before, but it definitely changed after Steve passed away."

"I think that's a song that anybody who has lost whether it be lost love or a relationship or the death of someone close to you can identify with. That's definitely a moment of truth on the record for us."

"It was a painful experience, the writing of the song, the recording of it. There were tears shed, and I think you can probably feel that in the track."

Little Big Town has yet to perform the song in concert, but that could change depending on Roads.

Steven Roads' death did not cause his widow to reconsider her music career, according to Westbrook.

"I think she felt he would want her to continue. It's probably a healing thing, getting out and working as well and continuing on. She's a tough girl man. She's really strong. She dove back in as soon as she could. We've been going hard ever since."

Fairchild says when Roads "needs time, we try to give that to her whenever she needs it...She's the strongest girl that I know. She's had a really tough tough year. She loved him very much...This was their dream too. He was a supporter of the band. We always feel now we have a guardian angel watching out for us. That's the way she looks at it too. It's really been a blessing just these little surprises of the album selling well and the single doing well. We kind of laugh and smile about how he must be watching over us."

Fairchild, an Indiana native, who grew up in Georgia, met Roads at Samford College in Alabama where both were into singing.

Fairchild moved first to Nashville in 1994 followed by Roads in 1995. The two joined forces again and talked about trying something different in country music - two men and two women in the band.

Arkansas native Sweet began performing at an early age, singing in a church touring musical group at 10 and becoming professional at 15 by singing the songs of Clint Black, Steve Wariner and others in his mother's weekend country variety show. He moved to Nashville in 1997. Sweet hooked up with the others through a fellow performer.

Fairchild knew Westbrook, an Alabama native, from being on the corporate entertainment circuit. After spending time in college and as a salesman, he left for Nashville and the fledgling group in 1998.

Without ever having even played lived, Little Big Town secured a record contract from Mercury, but after recording four songs over eight months, the deal was history.

Interestingly enough, the first gig ever was at the Grand Ole Opry due to a late cancellation of another act. "Our agent called us and said, 'there's an opening. Do you want to take it?'" Westbrook says.

"We had not sung out in a club or anything until we sang at the Opry," says Fairchild. "Kind of crazy."

The road remained difficult as a second deal fell through, and their producer left as well. They landed at Sony in 2001.

After that went sour, Westbrook parked cars, Sweet became a telemarketer, Fairchild worked on Music Row doing office work.

LBT got material together, considering their next move.

"We were thinking it was riskier to for us to sign another major label deal," says Fairchild. "We felt like a small focused team was exactly what we needed. They just believed (in us). We pitched the music to some other folks in town. For various reasons, maybe they weren't interested or they felt we had too much baggage (from the first record). That's risky to try on a band that already had something out that didn't work. I understand that."

"There were definitely moments like let's say a year and a half after we cut 'Boondocks' where we were getting frustrated," says Fairchild. "where we had almost a full record done, like maybe eight or nine tracks and going 'Oh come on. Why can't we get this music out to the people?'"

"We kept going and kept believing. We felt we'd get this music out somehow. If we didn't get a deal, we'd put it out on the Internet or come up with our own independent label. We were pretty focused on sharing the music."

"The timing ended up being great for us," said Fairchild of the long process.

For Little Big Town, "The Road to Here" may not have been smoothly paved, but band members clearly are jazzed by the end result.

"Oh my gosh, we could be not more happy," says Fairchild. "We're out here with Keith Urban. The record's selling well, and the single's doing well...We keep pinching ourselves (and thinking) how did we get there."

"'The Road to Here' is who we are musically, and that's a really satisfying feeling."

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