brian has faith in his music (May 9, 2006)

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brian has faith in his music (May 9, 2006)

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 24, 2007 6:57 am

Being a pop idol was OK, but Brian Littrell wanted something else
By Rich Copley
HERALD-LEADER CULTURE WRITER


Courtesy Photo
Brian Littrellís son, Baylee, 3, makes a cameo appearance on Jesus Loves You, one of the songs on his dadís new Christian pop album.
More photos
Rich Copley interviews Brian Littrell
Brian Littrell says he's living his dream, now.

To many, it would seem that he was living his dream five years ago when he and the Backstreet Boys were breaking sales records with their albums and packing fans into arenas across the country, including two consecutive sold out nights at Rupp Arena in November 1999.

And that was all great, the Lexington native says. But now he feels he's arrived, with a wife, a child and his solo debut as a contemporary Christian artist.

Littrell's move to the Christian pop market has little precedent. While established artists such as Randy Travis and Vince Gill have released Christian albums, they haven't brought the blinding star power that precedes Littrell.

Littrell says he's aware of that, but, "I want to make an impact with the material that's on the record. I don't really want to make an impact because of who I am or my past success.

"That obviously is a huge advantage in the music business when you do want to make a statement. ... But I'm just a tool. The glory is not really about me."

There's no mistaking Welcome Home, which hit stores Tuesday, for the Backstreet Boys. In fact, it's sort of old-school Christian pop with echoes of artists such as Michael English and Take 6, which Littrell grew up listening to while he was finding his own voice at Porter Memorial Baptist Church.

"I did about everything at my church," Littrell says. "I sang in all of the grade-school church choirs, growing up into the middle school choirs and the high school choirs. ... Later on, in my youth, I was the wedding coordinator for my church. I would set up all the candelabras and make sure that the sanctuary was taken care of and remove the pulpit from the center stage in the sanctuary so it obviously wouldn't be in the way for a wedding. I arranged the gymnasiums for the receptions there. Very often the families would ask me to stick around and, if I could, throw a suit on and sing a song."

Littrell's tastes ran to the traditional hymns such as How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace, and he listened to artists such as Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty and Michael W. Smith. His original plan was to try for a contemporary Christian career. He was even getting ready to go to Cincinnati Bible College to study youth and music ministry.

But, as almost any teenage girl in the late 1990s knows, Littrell's cousin Kevin Richardson was forming a vocal group, asked Littrell to join, and the rest is teen pop history.

The plan, however, was always to return to Christian music.

Littrell says it was a three-year process getting his first solo record out, a period extended by the success of the Backstreet Boys' Never Gone album and tour.

"It's not really my timing," Littrell says. "I look at this as God's timing. It's his purpose, and he's allowed these things to happen in my life very fast. I know we talk about a three-year process, but if I look at the recording process for this record, it spans for about two months, and that's about it."

He says the album is a mix of influences, from traditional gospel to contemporary Christian to inspirational music.

In a day when pop acts such as Avalon are being overtaken on Christian charts by rock artists such as Kutless, veteran gospel music journalist Deborah Evans Price said Littrell's album, "might single-handedly resuscitate the embers of (adult contemporary) pop," in her rave review of the disc in the current issue of CCM Magazine.

Littrell chuckles at the thought, and the headline that declared him "AC pop's knight in shining armor," saying, "I don't think that I deserve that."

Littrell acknowledges the strange position of being an established star entering a new genre. While many Christian artists talk about wanting to have an impact in the mainstream marketplace, Littrell says his focus with Welcome Home is the choir, so to speak.

"The immediate goal for Welcome Home is not the mainstream audience," Littrell says. "The immediate goal is to make an impact in the Christian market. That's my goal. Anything over that in the secular world or the crossover potential, I do welcome it, but it's not my first priority."

In addition to music, another notable change is in the packaging. While the Backstreet Boys were sold as teen girl fantasies, anyone who flips through the Welcome Home booklet will see Littrell is a married father. And beyond photos of the Tates Creek High School graduate with his wife, Leighanne, and 3-year-old son Baylee, Leighanne is also in Littrell's management credits and Baylee makes a cameo appearance on Jesus Loves You.

"I attribute a whole lot to a strong wife that helps analyze decisions in moving forward for our family," Littrell says.

Last month, Littrell got an early welcome to the fold from the Gospel Music Association when he received a Dove Award for best inspirational song for his cover of English's In Christ Alone. He told the awards show audience he had never put any of his Grammys or other awards on his mantel, but the Dove would have that honor.

"I always knew that this is where I would be in life," Littrell said. "I really find this is God's purpose and my calling. That's why the Dove Award is so special to me."

On the Net

Go to our Web site, www.kentucky.com, to hear excerpts of Rich Copley's interview with Brian Littrell.



source: BCU/E

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