WHO'S NEW ... LITTLE BIG TOWN
So what's it like when the four members of Little Big Town write a song together? "It's like a big party!" says Jimi Westbrook.
"We all work as a unit," adds Phillip Sweet, "so it's not quite like you'd think it would be."
"It's not mass chaos!" assures Kimberly Roads.
Whatever the method, Jimi, Phillip, Kimberly and Karen Fairchild have come up with their first hit together, "Don't Waste My Time." The song is a demand for maturity in a relationship -- or else.
"Every woman loves a good kiss-off song," laughs Karen. "So hopefully, a lot of people are going to relate to this."
Little Big Town's success comes after four years of struggle together, though their history goes back even farther. Native Georgians Karen and Kimberly first sang together in college. Jimi, originally from Arkansas, was a friend of Karen's husband, and the three formed a trio -- until meeting Phillip, who hails from Arkansas, in 1998. "When we hit that first chord in Karen's living room, it just felt right," recalls Jimi.
They chose a name that reflected the diversity of their music, as well as their backgrounds. "We all come from little big towns," says Phillip. "And Nashville's a little big town!"
From the beginning, they were well aware that a group of two men and two women singing country was a rarity. "We've looked, and we can't find another group like this in the history of country music," says Kimberly. "So we knew it was going to be different."
And the equality in the group has worked well for them. "We all have unique gifts we bring to the table," explains Karen. "And some of us are more intense than others, so it balances out."
"On the bus, Jimi and I will be playing John Madden Football on Playstation 2," chuckles Phillip, "and the girls will be up front with candles, watching Moulin Rouge."
"It's like a family," adds Kimberly.
There's also plenty of extended family to go around -- all the members are married, except Jimi.
"And he might as well be," teases Kimberly.
"He's got a steady," reveals Karen.
None has children -- "Not yet!" exclaim Karen and Kimberly in unison. But there'll be time for that later.
For the moment, the members of Little Big Town are focused on getting their sweet harmonies heard. Their first album -- for which they wrote most of the 11 songs -- is due out later this year.
"We just want to try to make good music," says Karen, "and to take that music to the people."
-- Chris Neal