16-year-old Baylee Littrell is the next big thing in country music. This Georgia boy is paying tribute to his Southern roots by choosing a country music career versus pop, that his father, Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell is famous for.
With over 110,000 followers on Instagram and his single “Boxes” being added to Spotify lists like Breakout Country and New Music Nashville, Baylee’s music is being welcomed by the country community.
His sweet southern drawl, blonde locks, and warm personality complement his talent. With three catchy singles, “Don’t Knock It”, “Boxes”, and “We Run This Beach”, under his belt along with an appearance at CMA Fest, and playing sold out crowds on BSB’s DNA World Tour, Baylee has a running head start at what promises to be a successful music career.
StarShine caught up with Baylee this week to discuss his upcoming album, songwriting, advice from his dad … and avocados?
Baylee Littrell: Good, how are you?
SSM: I’m good, thanks for speaking with me today.
Baylee: Of course.
SSM: So first I want to ask how the tour is going?
Baylee: Aw man, it’s been incredible. Pretty much literally everything I could’ve dreamed of literally happening but just 10,000 times better. I mean this has been probably one of the best experiences of my life.
SSM: Yeah, I’m sure. I know you’re no stranger to the stage, you’ve done Broadway before, but what is it like being on a stage in this capacity?
Baylee: It’s really exhilarating. It gets your nerves up a little bit … I honestly love big crowds because the smaller in the crowd the more of the intimacy … The more you’re up close with everybody … It’s kinda scary. When you got a gigantic crowd, you have such a big outreach and so many people listening to your music, it’s a little less nerve-racking but I mean I’m like soaking in this opportunity … playing these arenas. We’re playing the TD Garden tonight. That’s literally been on my list of goals, so that’s incredible.
SSM: Yeah, that must be a mind-blowing experience for you.
Baylee: Yeah, totally.
SSM: So far, I’ve loved every song you’ve released. When can we expect the full album from you?
Baylee: I don’t have any specific dates, but late September, early October. We’ll get that album out there this fall. Pretty soon, so not a long wait. I’m really excited for people to hear this one, we’ve been working hard on this one for a little over half a year.
SSM: Yeah, I’ll bet. Were you able to write any songs on this album?
Baylee: I did not. The deal … I’m trying to figure out how to explain this one. All the songs came from Tree Vibez, a publishing company. We were originally just going to do some songs … We didn’t know if we’re going to do a whole album, but that’s what it ended up turning into. One of my good friends Steven Lee Olsen sent me some of his work and asked me if I would want to record it and I was like “heck yes”! So “Boxes” and “We Run This Beach” is by Steven. “Don’t Knock It” is by Tree Vibez and Corey Crowder. Since I’ve been out on the road I’ve been writing a whole lot, so I’ve already got six or seven songs recorded … like I go in the dressing room after a show and we just record the songs that I wrote—me and the band—after we get off stage and it’s been a project. So next year I really do want to get a lot of my own material out and experiment with it and see what people think.
SSM: That’s awesome. Well I’m sure everyone’s not only looking forward to this album, but we’re looking forward to your whole career already because there hasn’t been an artist that’s your age come out in a while that’s really good and just has a good sound and so congratulations on everything that’s coming to you right now.
Baylee: Thank you so much. We’ve been working hard. I want to be able to touch people with my music like my dad has for so long. I’m really thankful and excited for this opportunity and I really hope people love it.
SSM: Yeah, well they already are so … you’re in the right direction. What made you decide to go country instead of pop or in another genre?
Baylee: Okay, so I mean I absolutely love like every genre of music. I mean I’ve listened to pretty much everything from like George Strait to Michael Bublé in my entire life … But genre-wise, I’m born and raised in Georgia and you know my grandparents played country music for me my whole life … like classics like Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson … and oh my gosh, Hank Williams and Ray Price. I grew up on all of the oldies and then my mom started listening to Carrie Underwood when she came out. So then I listened to a lot of Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean. So country was a huge influence and I just decided if I really want to do this, I don’t want to be something I’m not. My passion is country music and I thought, ‘I’m gonna regret this later if I don’t go country’. It would have been a decision I would regret for the rest of my life. Right now, I’m so happy … country is definitely my favorite genre. I don’t wanna do anything else. It’s really me. I want to be real with people and there’s not a lot of people—especially artists—that are real. My dad has basically shown me the perfect example of how to be straight up and real with people. I feel like I can tell people a story, get them over their heartbreaks, help them fall in love, you know, all of the above. So I really think this is the absolute best route to go.
SSM: That’s great … And you got to play CMA Fest recently.
Baylee: Oh my gosh, that was amazing! That was another dream that I got to check off on in all of my boxes … [laughs] No pun intended. That was so amazing. We got to play Maui Jim right in front of Bridgestone Arena. We got to close out the night. I mean that was surreal. I was beside myself the whole night.
SSM: Did you get to meet any cool people that night?
Baylee: I know my agents came by and Steven Lee Olsen who wrote “Boxes” came by … so amazing to see him. I got to meet a lot of interesting people when I went to the radio room at the ACM’s. That was in April … I got to meet Hunter Hayes.
SSM: I love him!
Baylee: Yes, absolutely love Hunter Hayes! I share his love and passion for music. He’s amazing … I got to meet Keith Urban. He was amazing and super generous and honestly like I was saying earlier … straight up, super real and I got to chat with him for a little bit … and I’ve met Morgan Wallen a couple times but I got to see him again and I saw Hardy … I did not introduce myself to Hardy [laughs]. I did not want to bother Hardy, but that dude is definitely someone I want to actually meet not just kind of wave at him from a distance.
SSM: [laughs] Well, I’m sure it will happen. What’s the best piece of advice your dad has given you?
Baylee: I would say definitely … well, so my mother is my manager and she’s the best manager of all time. My dad is literally like the musical director of my shows so he’s always out there during soundcheck getting all the little kinks out of the rehearsals and the shows and helping us fix things. The best advice he’s given me is to be myself but also with stage presence, he’s taught me so much with how to be a good performer and phrasing with music … He helps me with a lot of phrasing when we write. So there are endless amounts of things that my dad has really taught me that stays with me. He tells me to smile when I sing … and I started smiling and it literally just changes your entire mood, it makes you so happy and you’re like, “all I did was smile! Why am I so happy?’ [laughs] So that’s definitely my number one … He told me to smile and that was like my biggest breakthrough.
SSM: That’s awesome. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given him?
Baylee: Hmm, the best piece of advice I’ve ever given my dad … That’s a good question. You know, I think me and my dad have taught each other perseverance and passion for what we do. When I came into this business when I started, I feel like it opened my dad’s eyes to so much and back to his passion. He’s always been super passionate about it, but I feel like it made him more passionate for what he does. So I think that if there is anything I’ve given my dad, it’s more willpower and passion.
SSM: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on the tour so far?
Baylee: Oh man … [laughs] Okay, so my band and I … we were having our second show … we were in Montreal. We get off stage and usually we’re super excited or whatever, but we had one of those shows where you’re just so emotionally drained afterwards … and just want to fall asleep or just say nothing and sit there. The band is used to me being super energetic and I just came back and I was laid out on the couch … and this was only our second show together so we’re all just getting to know each other. We’re all sitting there and everybody’s kind of like waiting for me to say something after the show … and my bass player, Phil, comes over and he’s been with me since my first gig ever so Phil’s been around … and Phil comes over and he’s like “Well guys, this was a great show”, and has his hands cupped and he opens the top hand and is like “ let’s all share this avocado and celebrate”. So we all started busting out laughing. Ever since then that’s the new running joke of the whole tour and the band and I all have avocado socks. It’s really funny. We wear those for good luck at the shows, it’s really fun.
SSM: I bet you after this interview is published you’re going to get a ton of avocados from fans.
Baylee: [laughing] Just everyone throwing avocados!
SSM: Just don’t get hit in the head with one, especially if it’s not ripe yet.
Baylee: I’m changing everything … I’m not a solo artist anymore. I’m just taking the band with me and changing our name to The Avocados, and we’ll go on tour.
SSM: [laughing] Love it! Aside from your upcoming album and the tour, what else can we expect from you in the immediate future?
Baylee: Immediate future … album, tour … I honestly can’t divulge any information, but a lot more touring. Just pounding the pavement … making a lot of trips back-and-forth from home to Nashville and some little pop-up performances. Honestly, next year I’m probably going to get back in the studio and work on some of my own material and I don’t have a time any of that would be out because that’s far out from happening. But just really getting to develop and write my own material next year … I love writing so definitely sessions with some of my good writer friends … and just soaking in every opportunity, every chance I get. This has been an incredible journey just in one year.
SSM: We all look forward to seeing what you come out with next and what the next year looks like for you.
Baylee: Thank you so much. I’m so excited.
SSM: And for my final question I always end every interview with, what would you like to say to your friends and your future fans?
Baylee: I would tell all of my fans just thank you so much for being along on this journey with me and being so supportive … never giving up on me and just having faith in me. I mean without our fans now and our future fans, we wouldn’t be able to do this. This is the reason we get to do this so, the least I can do is go out there and give it my all every single night for all of those supporters and fans because they’re what keeps us where we are. So just appreciation and love to everybody. Future fans, y’all better look out because I’m just telling you that Baylee Littrell and the avocados are getting ready to make history here… I’m not going away no time soon.
Keep up with Baylee Littrell
Sandy Lo is an author, blogger, journalist, and digital strategist. Her personal story is inspiring. Sandy started StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees.