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Little Big Town’s Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit: 5 Must See Items

From rare ticket stubs with George Jones to handwritten lyrics to the breakout ballad “Girl Crush”

Little Big Town

Little Big Town are the focus of a new spotlight exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

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On Tuesday night, Little Big Town celebrated the opening of The Power of Four, their new exhibit at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, with a special preview event for the music industry that followed a program for LBT fans held at the museum’s CMA Theater.

The exhibit begins with a look at the childhoods of members Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet – complete with toys, sports uniforms, and school photos – and spans their entire career as a group, from their meeting in the late Nineties all the way to their most recent album, 2017’s The Breaker.

“If you go back to the beginning of this exhibit and look at those people, I don’t think we ever could have dreamed this up,” Westbrook tells Rolling Stone Country. “This is just amazing, and we’re so humbled and grateful and excited. It’s overwhelming.”

The group’s friends and families were all in attendance, with a few of their children getting a quick preview before the event began, excitedly pointing out their father’s pants or their mother’s dress. It was especially poignant for Schlapman, whose parents were celebrating their own milestone. “My parents are celebrating 52 years today,” she says. “So, it’s really special that we can add this to that celebration.”

“I think [our families] are gonna be even more overwhelmed, too,” Westbrook adds. “That’s the people that supported us through all these years, before we ever became a band. It was them that gave us the courage to step out and try something like this. They’re the constant. That’s the foundation.”

The exhibit officially opens to the public on June 29th and runs through June 9th, 2018. Here’s five of the coolest thing we saw in The Power of Four, with commentary from the band itself.

Little Big Town

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1

Early Ticket Stubs

Mementoes from the group’s early days performing together are a fun reminder that they haven’t always been the arena-playing, Grammy-winning artists they are today. Among the items are lyrics (“The handwritten lyrics are my favorite part,” Schlapman says), ticket stubs from some of their first major opening slots, and pieces of merchandise that the group made themselves.

“I love some of those ticket stubs from the early shows, like with George Jones” Fairchild says.

“There are a couple little bracelets that are there that we made for merch when we were driving ourselves and trying to come up with ways to make enough gas money to go to the next place,” Westbrook says. “I think little things like that, that people don’t know the story of, that’s pretty interesting and I’m glad they included some things like that.”

little big town

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2

“Girl Crush” Lyrics

Little Big Town’s 2014 Pain Killer single “Girl Crush” was a watershed moment both for the group and for the country genre. The track initially caused controversy with lyrics that some interpreted as same-sex affection, but eventually went on to win two CMA Awards and two Grammys. This portion of the exhibit, titled “Controversy and Conquest,” features a handwritten draft of the song’s lyrics, the Grammy trophy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, and stage wear from the group’s ACM Awards performance of the song in 2015.

“For whatever reason, it was risky to put ‘Girl Crush’ out,” Sweet says. “Everyone was worried it wouldn’t get played at radio. It was one of those things where our friends posted about it on social media and turned it around from a song that was struggling in the 30s to transcend all those things. I’m really thankful that it got there. It changed things for us. It took us to a new place.”

“It’s very hard to write a song about jealousy in a new way,” Fairchild continues. Conceptually, to see Lori [McKenna] and Hillary [Lindsey] and Liz [Rose], three of our greatest treasures and, for me personally, to think these three women, when we need to see more women producers, engineers, writers, getting their due, to know that they had this breakout moment that the whole world stood up and took notice of, that makes me so happy.” 

Little Big Town

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3

Kimberly Schlapman’s Childhood Modeling Photo

A standout item from the “Early Years” portion of the exhibit is a large advertisement for a photography studio that features a young Schlapman. The sign points shoppers to “Living Color” 8×10 portraits, which can be purchased for a mere $1.38. The photo company used a portrait of Schlapman, who is posed with her hands folded and sports a serious facial expression. Schlapman was born in Toccoa, Georgia, and grew up nearby Cornelia.

Little Big Town

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4

Phillip Sweet’s Pitcher

Mid-way through the exhibit, there is a modest brown ceramic pitcher that holds a lot of emotional resonance for Sweet. “There’s a piece of pottery that I received from a soldier in Afghanistan back in 2004 that really stood out to me when he gave it to me, because we were there on their base and this was a memento that held water, drinking water from the village,” Sweet says. “It’s always reminded me to be thankful for the blessings you have.”

As the exhibit explains, the pitcher broke as Sweet was traveling back to the United States, but his wife, Rebecca Arthur, glued the pitcher back together.

Little Big Town

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5

The Group’s Childhood Mementoes

The exhibit begins with an assortment of toys and clothing from each of the group’s four members. Among the items are Fairchild’s Lassiter High School cheerleading uniform, Westbrook’s childhood trumpet, and Sweet’s Dora High School basketball jersey. “I love looking at the childhood pieces, because you think about when you’re young and you sing your first solo, you’re still playing with dolls, or you’re on the cheerleading squad,” Fairchild says. “You’re singing the national anthem occasionally at some local talent show and you think, I’m going to end up in the Country Music Hall of Fame for an exhibit?’ It’s just beyond what we could have ever dreamt of.”