It’s not uncommon for sons to follow their fathers into the family business, but when that business is fun, it creates its own unique challenges. None of this is a deterrent to Baylee Littrell, the very talented and determined 19-year-old son of Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell and his wife Leighanne. On February 22, Baylee will release “Gone”, the lead single from her upcoming second album.
“‘Faded away’ was the song I felt everyone should hear first,” Littrell told SLN on a Zoom call from his home in Georgia. “I’m super excited for this. I’ve written all the songs so far on this record. It looks like it could be a 100% Baylee record. It’s all me so far. I just started writing and I was inspired. I really wanted this next record to be 100% authentic.
Although he’s been extremely prolific lately, Littrell says he’s still listening to outside material. “I’m always open if someone writes a better song,” he says. “We had some great songs for this record that we’re still thinking about. My great friend Daniel Ross produced every song on this record for me and he’s a fantastic writer, so I’m pretty sure Daniel is one way or another.
Littrell says the inspiration for “Gone” came during a trip to the beach. “I was on vacation and I woke up every morning at 8 o’clock sharp when I was at the beach. You know, when you’re on vacation, you want to sleep,” he says, “and I could never go back to bed. So I woke up at 8 this last morning and I was like, ‘Okay, that’s it.’ I grabbed my guitar. I’m sitting there scratching and I’m like, ‘Okay, I have this idea’, and that’s when it started to come to fruition. I’m sitting there on the bed and there’s wrinkled sheets everywhere and I said, ‘Rupled sheets at 2 a.m.’, and that’s how it started.
It started with a catchy opening line and the rest of the song just fell. “A few nights later, we were getting ready to go out to dinner and my dad was downstairs,” he said. “We were waiting for the girls to be ready and I said, ‘Hey, can I play you something real quick? and he’s like, ‘Of course.’ I said, ‘I just want you to hear it and tell me if you like it.’ My dad started crying and I said to him, ‘Are you crying because it’s horrible or because you like it?’ And he said, ‘I love it! You gotta put that on the second disc.'”
Littrell is delighted to present the second album with “Gone”. “I feel so blessed that this song is on the record,” Baylee says, “and that it ended up making so much sense to everyone around me and hopefully everyone who listens to it. .”
What did he learn while working on his first album, 770-Country, which it uses on the new disk? “Knowing that it’s not bad to think outside the box,” he replies. “I had this idea in my head of how I was supposed to write, how it was supposed to sound, because that’s what you often hear [is that] “You have to write like this to get here or you have to do this to get there”, and I thought I should forget about all that and just write what’s in my heart. . . I want to make everyone travel and tell them a story. That’s what I love about Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson and writers like that, it’s just how they can take everyone down a certain path, and you can imagine that. It’s like reading a book and I want people to be able to do that.
Littrell’s artistic ambitions started early. “When I was about eight, dad was on tour and every time we came back to play in Georgia, we had family, the whole tour crew, all the guys, all the bandmates back home and had dinner,” he recalled. “My cousin Reese and I literally played this little show together. We had a band in elementary school. That’s how it started and I realized I wanted to do this and as I got older I started opening up to the guys on tour. I would sing two songs for the opening. I got to see the world and it was so surreal. That was my preview and I’m now 19 and it’s been four years since I started country music and explored that journey. Time flies seriously. Honestly, I don’t know what else I would do. At this point, I’m determined for that.
Although Littrell had success as an actor, he received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his role in the Broadway musical. Disaster, country music is his first love. “I grew up in Marietta, Georgia and chose my grandparents over going to my friend’s house when I was a kid,” he smiles. “I spent almost every weekend with my grandparents. Now we’ve built a house for them basically in our backyard so we don’t have to travel at all but I grew up listening to Willie and Merle, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline and that’s what has it all sets off. Every time I heard country music, I felt at home. That’s what I was brought up with. »
Honing his performing skills, Littrell picked up tips while opening for artists such as Chris Lane and, of course, the Backstreet Boys. “I watch how they work the crowd,” he says. “I used to watch Chris and the Boys almost every night and just try to study and learn how I could be better. I would watch how my dad works with a crowd and interacts with the fans, how up-to-date he is. comfortable on stage. It’s a work in progress that takes years, but I took a lot of inspiration from my dad. It’s light and I think it’s #1, but don’t get too caught up in it. seriously because at the end of the day, you’re not more important than anybody else and so if you go up there thinking that, you might as well go down The Stage. realizing you’re there to do your job. You’re there for the fans.
“Chris is the same way,” Littrell continues. “He gets up there and he makes the crowd feel like they’re up there with him. It’s something I want to create myself. I want people to feel like they’re sitting there. on this stage with me. I feel a lot more comfortable now as time goes on, especially with my original stuff and it’s okay to be vulnerable. That’s another thing people forget. You have to be vulnerable and you have to make mistakes to get better, so humiliation is key. It comes with time, but you need it to earn your stripes.
Littrell admits that both his parents feared he would go into show business. “My parents never pressured me to go down this path,” he says. “Actually they kind of wanted me not to because they didn’t want me to have a bad experience or regret it and so far it’s been one hell of a ride for the three of us in this trip, but every bit of it was worth it.
Being the son of a successful artist can be both a blessing and a curse and Littrell has learned to take the good with the bad. “The blessing is to have your foot in the door. Sometimes you can get that meeting or you can walk in with a tag and have a chat. They will take you because of your name, but they have no intention of signing you,” he said candidly. “I had a lot of people who quickly assumed what they wanted from me and thought I was a jerk or didn’t know what I was doing or didn’t deserve it. I’ve heard that before. It’s hard and it’s hard to hear, but there are also people who listen. I love when people give me a chance because I feel like I’m being heard.
A contingent that has always been in its corner are the fans. “They helped me build my career,” he says. “They come from everywhere. I have people, when I play in a bar in Atlanta, they come from South America, Canada, Buffalo, NY, California, everywhere just to see a show and it’s a real devotion. It is such a blessing. It wins everything there.