'Give Glory Where Glory is Due'

Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell talks about his solo album, his faith, and why he almost left the music business behind.

BY: Interview by Dena Ross

 

Continued from page 1

Why being happy "doesn't sell"

Being happy doesn't sell. People don't want to read about or listen to somebody talk about being happily married and being successful. Those really aren't topics of conversation. They want to hear about divorce and turmoil and disaster. It's sad.



I wrote a song on my record called "We Lift You Up," which is a Contemporary Christian traditional gospel song. It has a choir on it from Nashville, Tennessee, that's singing the background—and that song talks about [how], as Christians, God lifts us up all the time in our life to persevere and give us the strength and the passion to continue on, yet we, a lot of times, don't turn around and return the favor. I think as Christians we need to join hands and mount up together and lift God up and talk about our faith publicly and talk about all of the things God has done for us in our life to touch other people.

Can you remember a time when you really struggled with your faith and maybe didn't want to be so public about it?

Being public with his faith
I've never not wanted to be public about it. There was a Rolling Stone [magazine] article that the Backstreet Boys did several years ago and the photographer wanted to take a picture of us with 50 young ladies in the background who were not even dressed—they were supposed to be completely nude. My faith played a big role in not taking that picture with the rest of the guys because at that time I was happily married—still am happily married—and I didn't want to compromise my faith and who I was as a person and my beliefs, just because some photographer wanted to take a picture in Rolling Stone magazine painting this picture of what he thought the Backstreet Boys were. I've been tested a lot like that in the secular world—people asking me to compromise my faith to do things and I won't do it.

There was a time in '98 when I had open-heart surgery, and it was a tough time for me because I had a lot of questions on why this was happening. I had a lot of frustration because of the fact that I was so healthy on the outside but yet everything was wrong on the inside. It was hard for me emotionally as well as physically, and spiritually too. You have to draw on your faith in times like that.

Were you asking, "Why me?"

Yeah. I was scared, I was frustrated, I was a little upset already at the music business because I had to reschedule my surgery on two different occasions because of our schedule. I wasn't looked at as a normal human being or like a real person.

Did you feel like leaving it all behind at that point?

Wanting to leave the business
I did. There was a time in my life where the music business had taken over my life so much that I didn't want it anymore. There was a time where I thought if I ever had a family and moved on with my life that I wouldn't want to do music anymore, but I think with having a family and being blessed again in my life with a healthy little boy, I think it's inspired me more than ever to stand out and tell my story that I didn't get swallowed up in the music business and that I made it and I was successful and that you can do that—you don't have to become a statistic.

What's your favorite song off your new album?

I have 11 of my favorites on there. [laughs] I have to say I enjoy singing every one of them. One of my favorites I think would be "Welcome Home." I co-wrote that song. I think it's really the story of my life, of leaving home and growing up and experiencing life on my own, but also experiencing my life from a faith-based church and a faith-based environment that I grew up in with my family. Those are the things that I want for my son and my life in the future. So that's probably the closest to my heart when it comes to playing it on the acoustic guitar and singing it live. It's who I am.

Would you mind singing a bit of it?

"Welcome Home"
[sings] When I left home to be who I am/ Some people said "no way"/ But I laid it all down, gave everything/ In my head rang the words that my Father said/ You're never far/ I will be where you are/ And when you come to Me/ I will open My arms/ Welcome home, you/ I know you by name/ How do you do?/ I shine because of you today/ So come and sit down/ Tell me how you are/ I know, son it's good just to see your face...

Do you remember the first time you prayed?

His first experience with prayer
I don’t remember the first time I prayed, but I do remember a time in my life…It was 1980 and I was sick in the hospital. I had a staph infection called bacterial endocarditis and I was not supposed to live. I'll never forget my mom and dad and my grandparents and nurses and friends and family from the church that we went to holding hands in the hospital room and praying for me. At five years old, I didn't quite understand really what they were doing. But that was my first experience with prayer, and how powerful it can be.

What is your favorite prayer?

My wife and I try to use repetition with Baylee, our son, who's three and a half. It's adorable to listen to him say his goodnight prayers. He gets those mixed up with the daytime prayers for our food. So at nighttime he says, "Thank you Lord, for this day and let it be a nourishment to our bodies…" [laughs]

The prayer he says with his son
There's one particular thing that we ask--that God sends his angels down to love us, guide us, and protect us, and keep us safe, in our waking hours and in our sleeping hours. That's what we always say in our goodnight prayers.

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