Extended Q&A: Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town
Little Big Town is, from left, Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman and Phillip Sweet.
Country quartet Little Big Town will be the special guests tonight at Carrie Underwood’s show at the BOK Center. This is an extended Q&A with Kimberly Schlapman, one of the singers for the vocal group, from a phone interview last week from a Virginia tour stop.
Schlapman talked about touring with Underwood, the band’s rerelease of the CD “A Place to Land” and balancing work and family. Little Big Town consists of Karen Fairchild, Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet, and she also talked about the unusual lineup of their group.
Q: How’s the tour going? You guys just started out recently with Carrie Underwood.
A: We started in September; we’ve been out five or six weeks, I guess about five weeks with Carrie. And it’s going fantastic. We’re having a ball. Carrie’s been really great to us, and she’s given us all her lights and all. We’ve never had so many lights to use. (laughs) We actually have our own lighting guy now for the first time ’cause we have so many great lights to use onstage. And that makes a huge difference in the show, the lighting and she’s been really kind to us. It’s been great.
Q: So she’s been sharing her lights with you?
A: Um hum, yeah, which is a big deal. That doesn’t always happen; headliners don’t always share all the goodies. So she’s been really great about that and very generous with the production, so it makes a big difference for our show, too.
Q: I’ve talked to her a few times, and every time I talked to her she still kind of seems surprised that she’s famous. Do you get that vibe off of her?
A: (laughs) Yeah. She’s a doll, she’s really sweet and down to earth and really kind. We’ve had a good time out here with her.
Q: She’s always saying something like she doesn’t know why people would recognize her or something like that.
A: (laughs) I know, and she’s a superstar. But yeah I guess it’s kind of cool that she doesn’t buy into all of it, you know.
Q: There’s a lot of girl power going on with your tour, with you and singing partner Karen Fairchild – not to forget your guys - but then you have Carrie Underwood as the headliner. Is that pretty interesting to have such a female presence on the tour and what kind of audiences are you getting?
A: It’s pretty awesome. We’ve done it once before with Martina McBride. We toured with her I guess a year and a half ago for a long time and so that’s the same girl power and also a killer voice. I mean, you can’t get better than the two of them for sure. Both of them – Carrie and Martina – they bring their top game every night. You know, you can watch night after night after night both of them sing and they never miss. It’s amazing.
As far as the crowds on this tour, it’s really a bit of a different crowd for us. You know, it’s the “American Idol” crowd and a wide range of ages, from little small children who watch and knew Carrie from “American Idol” all the way up to their grandmas who bring ‘em to the show. So it’s a wide range of fans, and ours are also in there. So it’s nice to see familiar faces, but it’s also been great for us to make some new fans. …
It’s very nice to have women represented so well right now in country music. There’s some just awesome singers who have taken our genre of music to another level and brought in more and more fans because of the great quality of female musicians right now in country music.
Q: I wanted to talk to you about why you re-released “A Place to Land” and what’s the story behind it and how did it tie into changing labels.
A: Well, we were on Equity Records, which is a small independent label in Nashville. We were there for about four years and had our first big hit there, “Boondocks.” And it went very well there but our contract ran out so some other labels in town were kind of courting us I guess you could say.
And we decided to sign with Capitol Records and Capitol actually acquired both of the CDs that we made at Equity, “The Road to Here” and “A Place to Land.” They acquired both of those from Equity, because when we were at Equity only one single was released off of that CD, and so when we knew that we were leaving and going to another label, we almost began to grieve that CD because we thought that we were going to have to leave it behind and start completely over with a new CD.
And when you make a CD, at least for us, we pour our absolute hearts and souls into every aspect of making the music, from writing the songs to recording to the artwork to every bit of the CD. It was really hard for us to think about leaving that CD behind after just one single. So Capitol decided to bring that with us over there and to re-release it with new artwork and some new music so that it could get out to more people, Capitol being a huge powerhouse in the music business, so that the CD could be introduced to more of the world, along with some new music and some new art.
When we found out that was going to happen, we were just over the moon, ‘cause it was going to be kind of like leaving a child behind. We so wanted the world to hear that CD and it just really hadn’t happened yet. So we just re-released it with four new songs on it, one being “Life in a Northern Town” that we did with Sugarland and Jake Owen, and then two songs that we wrote and then one that our producer, Wayne Kirkpatrick, wrote many years ago. So three studio tracks and then “Life in a Northern Town,” the original one that we did with Sugarland and Jake.
Q: Were those three studio tracks ones you did specifically for the re-release?
A: Yes. Yes. Those were not done before; they weren’t done the first time around. They were just done in the last six months actually. We wrote those two and then recorded three songs – four songs actually and we didn’t put the fourth one on the CD. The fourth one you can get off of iTunes. When you order the CD on iTunes, you get actually 17 tracks, including that one bonus. But on the one in stores, there’s 16 tracks.
So yeah, we did all of that in about the last six months, getting ready for the re-release of that CD. And we’re really, really proud of the songs that we got to add. We wrote some things that we’re really proud of.
Q: Are you working on a new album now?
A: Not yet. Not yet. We’re always brainstorming about song ideas and stuff like that. …
Q: I have to ask you, like I asked Carrie Underwood, what was it like to record with Elvis Presley?
A: Oh my gosh, that was such a thrill! Well, you know, it’s something that you can’t even dream up because who ever would’ve thought that in this day and time we could ever record with Elvis, who’s gone.
But when we were asked, we jumped at the chance. And Karen and I have been friends for 20 years, and we have been through so much together and done so many great things together and this is something we never dreamed up. (laughs)
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