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Brian Littrell
Brian Littrell 2011.jpg
Littrell in June 2011
Born
Brian Thomas Littrell

(1975-02-20) February 20, 1975 (age 49)
Alma mater Tates Creek High School
Occupation
Years active 1993–present
Spouse(s)
Leighanne Littrell
(m. 2000)
Children Baylee Littrell (b. 2002)
Relatives
  • Kevin Richardson (cousin)
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
Labels
Signature
Brian littrell signature.jpg

Brian Thomas Littrell (/ˈlɪtrəl/; born February 20, 1975) is an American singer and a member of the Backstreet Boys. He is also a contemporary Christian music artist, and released the solo album Welcome Home in 2006. He is the father of country singer Baylee Littrell.

In 2015, Littrell was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame along with his cousin and bandmate Kevin Richardson.

Early life

Littrell was born in Lexington, Kentucky, to Jacqueline "Jackie" R. (née Fox), a dentist's secretary, and Harold Baker Littrell Jr, an IBM employee. He has an older brother Harold III, an actor and singer, and is the cousin of fellow Backstreet Boys member Kevin Richardson; his father, Harold, and Richardson's mother, Ann, are siblings.

Littrell was skilled at sports, and played in both Little League and the Babe Ruth League. Growing up in a religious Baptist family, he sang his first solo in Porter Memorial Baptist Church at age 7, and was voted President of the Youth Chorus by his peers one year. At 16, he began performing at weddings after Barry Turner, his choir teacher at Tates Creek High School, suggested he could make money singing at social events. Littrell also performed in school plays including a production of Grease, and worked at fast food chain Long John Silver's.

At 15, Littrell had aspirations to become a basketball player, but at 5 feet 7 inches (170 cm) he struggled with his height, and was seldom selected for high school tournaments. He aspired to become a music minister, but in April 1993 during a history class at Tates Creek, Littrell's cousin and future bandmate Kevin Richardson called him out of an American History class and informed him of an audition for a fifth member of the Backstreet Boys after a member spot opened up when Burk Parsons resigned his place in the group due to his desire to become a Christian minister. Littrell flew to Orlando the next day and finished high school via correspondence, graduating in 1994.

Career

Backstreet Boys

Backstreet Boys Concert
Littrell (left) with the Backstreet Boys in 2008

In 1997, Littrell was instrumental in bringing a lawsuit against the group's creator Lou Pearlman, claiming Pearlman had concealed information regarding the group's earnings. Bandmates AJ McLean, Richardson and Howie Dorough joined the lawsuit which eventually resulted in a number of settlements, details of which were not disclosed. In 2000, he was among Teen People's 25 Hottest People Under 25, tying with Justin Timberlake of rival band *NSYNC.

Christian music

BrianLittrell
Littrell performing in 2005

Littrell longed to record Christian music, a genre he described as "pop positive". In 2004, Littrell signed a solo deal with Reunion Records and released the solo album Welcome Home in 2005. Littrell co-wrote six of the songs on the album, which sold over 100,000 copies in the US and reached No. 74 on the Billboard 200 charts. On the Christian album charts, Welcome Home debuted at No. 3. Four singles were released from the album – "In Christ Alone", "Wish", "Over My Head" and Welcome Home (You)", with the latter reaching No. 2 on the US Christian AC Charts. It was also No. 1 on Reach FM's Top 40 chart and on the US R&R Christian Inspirational charts for 3 weeks. In the summer of 2005, his solo single, "In Christ Alone", went to No. 1 on the Christian charts. Despite this change in his career, he remains a member of the Backstreet Boys.

Littrell won a Dove Award for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year ("In Christ Alone") in 2006 along with songwriters Don Koch and Shawn Craig, and another in 2008 for "By His Wounds" with Glory Revealed. He also won Special Event Album of the Year in 2008 for Glory Revealed which was a compilation album with many other Christian artists; and in 2010, Special Event Album of the Year for Glory Revealed II.

Littrell released two Christmas collections featuring his wife Leighanne and son Baylee, Brian Littrell's Family Christmas, released on December 6, 2010, and Christmas with the Littrells, released on December 6, 2011.

TV and film appearances

Littrell made appearances with the Backstreet Boys on Arthur, Sesame Street, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and he and bandmate McLean had cameos in Olive Juice, a film starring Littrell's wife Leighanne. Littrell also performed with The Backstreet Boys on Saturday Night Live, in 1998 and 1999. In 2013, Littrell made an appearance in the film This Is the End with his bandmates.

Other ventures

During the band's hiatus, Littrell became committed to a number of other show business activities, most of them for charity. He has joined other celebrities in yearly NBA tours where he played basketball in every NBA city before a game, and has also played charity baseball games.

Personal life

Relationships

In June 1997, following the breakup of his relationship with girlfriend Samantha Stonebraker, Littrell met Leighanne Reena Wallace, an actress and model, on the "As Long as You Love Me" video set in which she was an extra. Littrell stated in J-14 magazine about this relationship that he had been out of the dating game for a while and meeting Leighanne opened a whole new chapter for him. "I had just gotten out of a relationship with a high school sweetheart that didn't work out. I didn't really have my eyes or mind set on anybody. It was something that just happened. If I was looking, I wouldn't have been able to find her." They dated for two years, and Littrell proposed on Christmas 1999; their engagement, along with the engagement of cousin and bandmate Kevin Richardson to Kristin Willits, was announced on MTV on February 15, 2000. the couple married in September 2000 at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta. On September 11, 2001, Leighanne was scheduled to board American Airlines Flight 11, which later be hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center as part of the 9/11 attacks. Leighanne Littrell had canceled her flight the previous night. On November 26, 2002, they had their son Baylee Thomas Wylee Littrell, who is now pursuing a similar path as his father's in the entertainment industry.

As of 2020, the family lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, near Atlanta, having been there since 2000 soon after Littrell and his wife got engaged.

Littrell stated during a show in Georgia on the DNA World Tour that his wife lost her mother from a heart condition in June 2022 and was a matriarch to him and the family.

Health issues

Littrell was born with a congenital heart condition, making him susceptible to infections. He was diagnosed with a heart murmur at 6 weeks old. At 5 years old, he was hospitalized for two months due to a bacterial infection. Due to his hospitalization, Littrell was held back in school and had to repeat the first grade. In November 1997, doctors found his heart condition had caused his heart to enlarge considerably. Still, he underwent open-heart surgery on May 8, 1998 (which would be referenced by his scenes in the band's music video for "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely"). He later established the Brian Littrell Healthy Heart Club, a non-profit organization assisting children with heart conditions through medical, financial, and practical help.

In October 2009, Littrell became infected with swine flu, causing the cancellation of the Backstreet Boys This Is Us promotional tour.

In the 2015 documentary film, Littrell revealed his 2011 diagnosis of vocal tension dysphonia and dystonia. He continues to work with a therapist to help improve his condition.

Religious beliefs

A devout Christian, Littrell has stated he believes it is the duty of Christians to be open about their faith, saying, "I think as Christians we need to join hands and mount up together and lift God up and talk about our faith publicly and talk about all of the things God has done for us in our life to touch other people." Littrell, who has been born again since the age of 8, has said that he attributes his success in life to God, and that his faith has always been "the utmost important thing" in his life.

Heritage

In 2019, a DNA heritage test revealed Littrell's ancestry to be 90.1% British Isles (20.7% English and 70.1% Irish/Scottish/Welsh), plus 7.1% Finnish and 2.1% Scandinavian.

Filmography

TV series & Movies
Year Film Role Notes
2000 Olive Juice Carriage Driver
1998 Sabrina the Teenage Witch Himself Episode: "Battle of the bands"
1998–1999 Saturday Night Live Himself and Musical guest "Julianne Moore/Backstreet Boys" (Season 23: episode 16)
"Sarah Michelle Gellar/Backstreet Boys" (Season 24: episode 19)
2002 Arthur Himself Episode: "Arthur, It's Only Rock and Roll" Guest Voice
2002 Sesame Street Himself
2005 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Himself Musical Guest With The Backstreet Boys
2009 El Hormiguero Himself Musical Guest With The Backstreet Boys
2012 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Himself Musical Guest with Backstreet Boys
2013 This Is the End Himself With the Backstreet Boys, performing "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"
2013 El Hormiguero Musical Guest With The Backstreet Boys
2014 I Heart Nick Carter Himself minor
2021 Dynasty Himself Everybody Loves The Carringtons (Season 4,Episode 4) performing "I Want It That Way (Solo Acoustic)"
2006 700 Club Himself

Discography

Albums

Year Album details Peak positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
US US
Christian
2006 Welcome Home
  • Released: May 2, 2006
  • Label: Reunion
74 3 US sales: 100,000
2010 Brian Littrell's Family Christmas
  • Released: December 6, 2010
  • Label: Reunion
2011 Christmas with the Littrells
  • Released: December 6, 2011
  • Label: Reunion

Singles

Year Single Peak Album
US
Christian
2005 "In Christ Alone" 1 Welcome Home
2006 "Welcome Home (You)" 2
"Wish" 20
2007 "Over My Head" 17
"By His Wounds" (with Mac Powell, Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman) 8 Glory Revealed

See also

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