It’s been two years since Baylee Littrell went to his parents, Backstreet Boys singer Brian Littrell and his wife, Leighanne, declaring he wanted to become a country musician. Despite the teen having been writing songs and opening for the Backstreet Boys from a young age, Brian says the news was a “curveball,” but he immediately jumped on-board, ready to do anything to help his son pursue his dream.
What the boy bander didn’t anticipate was just how powerful the experience would be on his own career, admitting that working with 16-year-old Baylee on his debut album, 770-Country has inspired him to potentially relaunch his solo career. While Brian released a solo album, Welcome Home, in 2006, he has since focused on the Backstreet Boys, despite many of the group’s longtime fans hoping for a follow-up.
“I’m considering it now,” he tells us. “Working with Baylee so closely on this album has definitely inspired me to get back into that. I get so busy with BSB scheduling and doing my day job that sometimes I forget about myself. Doing this project with Baylee and being so close-knit with it has taught me a lot and [made me think] maybe I should focus on another solo album in the future.”
“So, just as I try to inspire Baylee, he also inspires me,” he continues. “He’s helping me with it. So, it may be coming soon. I’ll just say that – maybe coming soon!”
Baylee is the first to encourage Brian’s solo work, praising his dad’s songwriting abilities. “When my dad walks in a room and sits down, he doesn’t even have to say anything – he gives me ideas without having to say a thing,” Baylee laughs. “My dad is just wow at songwriting. I wish he would release more of what he’s written because it’s amazing!”
While Baylee may be inspiring his dad, it was Brian and his bandmates’ 2017 collaboration with Florida Georgia Line on the sweet song, “God, Your Mama, and Me,” which ignited Baylee’s interest in country music, and made him seriously consider pursuing a career in the genre.
Meanwhile, Brian had started forming a close friendship with Florida Georgia Line’s, Tyler Hubbard, who would end up writing two songs for Baylee’s record, including opening track, “Some Guys.”
“I started talking to Tyler on a personal level around when his wife was going to give birth to their first baby. We just talked and shared father stories, because he knew I had a son,” Brian recalls. “He was like, ‘Man, you got any advice?’ and asking me about it when we were on tour because he was getting ready to become a dad.”
What words of wisdom did Brian pass onto the country star?
“I said, ‘Tyler, the really cool thing is one day, you’re one person and the next day, you’re a different person,’” Brian shares. “In the moments you become a father, your life changes dramatically. Your thought process changes and you become a very selfless person. And, the thing with the business we’re in is that it teaches you a lot about being very selfish because you have to watch every move and make a lot of people happy, but also make yourself happy.”
“So, I remember sharing that with him and I think it has come out in his songwriting,” Brian adds. “He’s played me demos and songs that aren’t out yet which he’s dedicated to his kids. Fatherhood is full of special moments, but you have to be willing to grow and accept change, and it just teaches you so much about selflessness, so that’s what I told him.”
When he later mentioned that Baylee was going to start working on a country record, Tyler “jumped” at the chance to help out. Baylee also worked extensively with writers and producers linked with Florida Georgia Line’s music publishing company, Tree Vibez, like Corey Crowder. “He’s one of the most talented producers I’ve ever worked with,” Baylee says. “He really was the first one to welcome me into country music, so he’s been there since day one and is amazing.”
Brian says having people like Corey and Tyler involved, and a “stamp of approval from Florida Georgia Line,” was invaluable to 770-Country, which was released via BriLeigh Records, and also features a father-son duet, “Come Kiss Me.”
Having recently opened for three of country crooner Chris Lane’s shows, Baylee is now putting plans for 2020 in place. “My number one focus is promoting this record, and I will be back out on the road,” Baylee says. “I’ll also be writing more music in the studio, so I’m super excited.”
Meanwhile, Brian has just wrapped the North American leg of the Backstreet Boys’ DNA World Tour with a four-date run in Hawaii and is looking forward to some family downtime over the holidays, before the group resume touring with 2020 dates in Mexico, New Zealand and Australia. The quintet has also completed an album of re-recorded hits and fan favourites, with a release date pending.
Then of course, there’s the hotly-anticipated Christmas album which the boy band announced they were working on in April. They previously released two original Christmas songs, “Christmas Time” in 1996 and “It’s Christmas Time Again” in 2012. Sadly, fans will now have to wait until 2020 for the project to come to fruition.
“The Christmas album got put on hold, based upon all the touring and scheduling,” Brian confirms. “We had to get around the world on the DNA World Tour, but about a month ago we started talking about the Christmas album again and setting up some time next year to record it. So, hopefully at the end next year, you’ll have your very first Backstreet Boys Christmas album!”