Women in Music 2016

Little Big Town Announces Ryman Residency, Shares Story of Taylor Swift Pitching Them a Song

Steve Lowry/Ryman Archives
Little Big Town

Nashville's Ryman Auditorium has a reputation for being one of the most acoustically sound venues in the world. Coming in 2017, the “Mother Church of Country Music” will make history by having the first residency in its halls.

The Grammy-winning hitmakers Little Big Town have announced plans to play the Ryman six times in 2017.

“We’ve been planning this for a year, I guess, with Sally (Williams, the Ryman's vp/gm) and our management team, and all the dreams of what these nights could be," LBT's Karen Fairchild says. "[We] reminisced about our first playing here in 2005, and what it felt like to stand on this stage, and moving ahead, and wanting to share some of that inspiration with the world and knowing that we get to focus and be home and reflect on the great songs that have been sung on this stage, pay homage to that, and ask our friends to collaborate with us. There’ll be lots of special guests -- from all genres and collaborations -- because we’ve been really blessed to be able to do that in our career.” 

“I got very emotional thinking about it on the way in this morning," fellow member Phillip Sweet said. "It’s such an honor. We want to do right by all of this reverence.”

Kimberly Schlapman added that the group will never forget their first time there, eleven years ago. “I remember the first time we were out here on this stage, and how exciting it was. We had heard about this place all of our lives, so it’s going to be incredibly special to be here. My mother-in-law tells this story so often about her and her family when she was a child, they had saved their money for some time, and drove all the way down to Nashville from northern Ohio. She remembers sitting on her daddy’s lap here -- so for generations, it’s been so special to people.”

The opening night of the residency (Feb. 24) will coincide with the release of the group’s seventh studio album, The Breaker. The first single, “Better Man,” is quickly making an impact at radio, and Fairchild said the lyrics come from one of Nashville’s biggest stars.

“Some have been asking, and we’ve told you there’s a young girl in Nashville who wrote it by herself, and it’s Taylor Swift,” she said. “She sent us this song, and it was one that was really special to her. She thought of us because of the harmonies. She’s never pitched a song to anyone before, and the minute we heard it, we were like ‘Man, that is a song that we’re going to cut.’"

She said the lyrics can be interpreted in many ways. “Everybody has a better man. It might have been a lover, or a parent that disappointed you. I think the beauty of that storytelling is that we can all relate to being disappointed in someone and still loving them, but saying ‘Enough is enough.’ This would have been amazing if you would have gotten your act together. That’s kind of a fun song to sing,” she said with a laugh.

The group will be playing much of the new music from The Breaker during their residency. Jimi Westbrook says he plans on savoring every moment of each show they play there. But, then again, he has been for years.

“It is visually stunning being up here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood up here on this stage and I always take a picture standing behind the microphone because of the light coming through those beautiful stained glass windows. It’s special all the way around, and such a beautiful environment to play music in a place like this.”

Little Big Town will play the Ryman Auditorium on Feb. 24-25, May 19-20, and Sept. 15-16. Tickets go on sale this Friday (Nov. 4) at www.Ryman.com.