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Backstreet Boy Is Upfront With God
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This article is from the July/August 2007 issue of the Christian Living Magazine.

By: Lisa A. Rice

Last month a thirty-ish guy with a little goatee and a cross tattoo got on a giant stage before 65,000 fans in Tokyo, Japan, and sang some songs from his latest album. They were songs about how much he loves Jesus, and how much God loves people unconditionally. Little were some in the audience expecting this – especially from a Backstreet Boy!
BSB vocalist Brian Littrell grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, in a family where church attendance was not an option. His grandfather sang in a barbershop quartet, and his grandmother and parents sang solos in the church. Even as a little boy, Brian tuned in carefully and learned to pick out harmonies.

"Ever since the age of four, I sang my heart out," says the now-grown-up- boy-band- artist. "I sang in the kid's choir, but one day I went to the musical director of the adult choir and asked if the adults could back me on a song I wanted to perform. He agreed, and we prepared special music for the morning service. Eighty five adults sang behind me as my choir. "

The other strong influence in Brian's life was his choir teacher in high school, Mr. Turner. This teacher taught and encouraged Brian so much that he began to have hope for a career in music. "I told my teacher that if I ever amounted to anything, I would come back and produce a record that featured my high school choir." And indeed, Brian did just that. Six years later, after he had made it big with the Backstreet Boys, Brian came back to Lexington, found his teacher, and called all 120 of the chorus members he had sung with. Seventy eight of them responded and came to sing back up on Brian's new faith-based album, to the song, "The Perfect Fan," (about his mother).

"We had a blast getting together, but I felt like my school teacher," says Litrell. "The first thing I said to them was, 'we're gonna have fun, but you will hate me by the end of the day. I know this, accept this, and it's okay.' I gave Mr. Turner a smirky smile, and he gave me a look that said, 'Okay, I guess you know what you're doing. "

The group worked eight hours, and at the end of the day, the newly-formed back up chorale understood what Brian meant. "A lot of people look at the music industry as something that's easy. But, as these friends saw, we put a lot of time, effort, and emotion into every album. Once something is on a CD, it will live that way forever, so we try to get it right."

Despite his desire for excellence, however, Brian says he's come to the point where he sees that people are more attached to real music and real artists, and that things on CDs aren't going to be perfect. "It's a feel, an emotion, rather than perfection. It's more artistic that way."

Singing as a Ministry

Brian is still making records with the Backstreet Boys, with a new album coming out this spring (listen for a song called "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon"), but he's also doing quite well as a solo artist with Christian albums. The album "Welcome Home" features his old chorus buddies, and includes the songs, "You Keep Giving Me," and "We Lift You Up. " "These are huge gospel songs," says Brian. "I think I'm a southern gospel artist at heart. That music has always moved me."

Never in a million years would Brian have dreamt that he'd be in a pop boy band. That opportunity fell in his lap in the early 1990s through his cousin, Kevin, the first member of the group.

Now, expanding his solo career, Brian is using every performance venue to share his faith in Christ. "All my life I wanted to be a singer and a youth minister," says Brian, "but little did I know that God would give me both at this stage of my career." Brian ministers to youth all over the world, using his fame with the Backstreet Boys to tell them where his hope really lies.Staying Grounded Amidst the Fame
Brian is aware that his image is on posters of teen girls throughout the nation. In order to stay grounded, he constantly reminds himself – and others – that he's not an icon, but a real person – no more important than anyone else, but rather a real "Joe Schmo" who makes mistakes. He understands that "to whom much has been given, much is required," and he takes his platform seriously. "You have to know who you are as a person before you enter the music business. You have to maintain that person. It's like a kid, when you tell a lie, you have tell ten more to get out. I live my life based on truth. Everyone knows everything about me. I don't hide, and I don't lie. I'm a normal human being that doesn't want to be known as a pop star. I want to be known as a father, husband, and a man of faith."

Keeping the Focus on Family

During his Welcome Home tour, Brian often sang to crowds of 1,500 kids a night, way down from his earlier BSB audiences of tens of thousands. But numbers are no longer important to this artist. "It's about taking the message to kids that have been BSB fans and are now young adults with kids of their own. Little did I know that God would give me the platform of a youth ministry to tell my story and share my faith. And I know God doesn't give me anything I can't handle."

When Brian used to say, "If I ever go solo, I'll be a contemporary Christian artist," the record labels would tell him that the sales weren't so good in that market and that he'd make a lot less money. Brian's answer was "So what? Music is music. The sad thing is that we have to categorize everything. I just want to sing from the heart." Brian's current album deal is with Provident Label Group through Reunion Records.

Through his new solo adventures, Brian has had the freedom to sing the songs he most loves – like the old hymns – and to include his family to a greater extent. His 4-year-old son even sings on stage sometimes. As a matter of fact, last month the smart little lad figured out that when he was through singing one song, he would be ushered off the stage. He didn't like this idea, so he hogged the microphone and continued to sing another song. The band just had to keep up!

(Brian says he should research his family line to find out where his son got such a passion for music – and for hogging a stage!)

Amazingly, however, even with 74 million records to his name, Brian Littrell's greatest goal is not more fame – but rather to deflect all the glory to the God who saved him as a young boy and who answered the cry of his heart to touch the lives of young people.For more information on Brian Littrell and his new solo career, please visit him at

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