I have a confession to make. I’m an AC/pop junkie. There, I said it. What does it mean? I have always harbored a secret fondness for boy bands, girl bands and pretty much everything in between. That being said, I’ll proudly admit that I own several Backstreet Boys CDs. (And I’ll also go on record as saying that I always thought Backstreet was much cuter than ?N Sync.)
And, apparently, I’m not the only 30-something fan of Brian Littrell and his Backstreet Boys cohorts. Following on the heels of his No. 1 Christian radio hit “In Christ Alone,” the remake of the classic song which was included on last year’s WoW #1s collection, Brian Littrell once again found himself surrounded by fans of all ages — many looking to be my age or older, even — in what some may regard as an unlikely arena?the annual GMA (Gospel Music Association) Week festivities in Nashville, Tenn.
When Littrell’s publicist later points out the vast array of people he attracted to an autograph signing session and, in particular, the number of guys who weren’t afraid to be seen in line, too, Littrell laughs, “There were a lot of guys, and it’s funny — I was joking with several of them — they were joking with me like, ?Well, I’m probably the only guy in the [line].’ And I was [saying], ?No, there was one just a few minutes ago, and if you look behind you there’s a?’ So you know he was like, ?Oh, OK. Cool.'”
All joking aside, Brian Littrell is thankful for his success. “It’s been 13 years in the making, and I do have loyal, gracious, trustworthy fans,” he says. And the fans, alongside an established 13-year career with the Backstreet Boys, who have now sold more than 74 million records worldwide and garnered a veritable mountain of awards and accolades, have provided Littrell a platform.
Littrell has met many people who tell him, “?I don’t really listen to Christian music, but I’m intrigued by your project; and I’m intrigued by your testimony; and I want to know more,'” he shares. “I’m hosting this show that’s called “Gifted”. It’s a talent show around the United States that’s looking for Christian artists. And I had this young lady come up to me, a mother of two, and she said, ?You know, my 14-year-old doesn’t know Jesus Christ, but I think you sparked something tonight’ (because I do a small little performance, like four songs). And I was [thinking], ?You know, that’s what it’s about.’? Whether or not you’re a Backstreet Boys fan or a Brian Littrell fan, if you’re a music fan in general, any genre of music, my project is for music lovers. You know, it’s for all walks of life, just people that enjoy a good, positive message. That’s hopefully what we’ve been doing with the Backstreet Boys for 13 years, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
It’s this sense of the universal nature of music and its ability to communicate — to cut through borders and cross over boundaries — that Littrell embraces. When asked about the seeming disparities between mainstream versus Christian music, he responds, “I stand beside ?the music business, is the music business’?I guess I’m an old veteran when it comes to the music business. God has used me in many different countries and many different venues, you know, giving me the platform He’s given me. But still, it’s always been the same music business. And ?crossing over’ into the contemporary Christian music business, it’s the same.”
To make his point, he cites examples such as “the Third Day’s and the MercyMe’s and the people that are really breaking down walls” between genres and radio formats, both Christian and mainstream. After all, as the songwriters’ unions often point out, it all begins with a song — and with a message. “You know, God is moving mountains in people’s views,” he remarks. “I think of how these genres of music are coming a little closer together because it’s still about a message, whatever that message may be. And standing on the Christian side, my message is plain and clear. It’s simple to hear what my message is about and what my testimony is. But also, even on the secular side, it’s plain to see what I’m about as a person — the things that I contribute to, the things that I stand for are the same things that I’m into for the Christian side. So, a lot of people look at my situation [like it’s] backwards. You know,
?Why go to Christian music when you sold this many records?’ To me, it’s about the message. It’s not about the sales?To me, God has truly multiplied my audiences all over the world, and I think I can maybe change a few views on how people look at the secular world [as well as how] the secular world?views Christian music. And I hope it changes; and I hope it continues to change and grow.”
With such an outlook, it’s not hard to understand why Brian Littrell is attracting attention in the Christian music marketplace. Although he is still very much a Backstreet Boy and has no plans to leave the group, with the recent high-profile release of his first solo project Welcome Home, Littrell has made a statement. He has chosen to put out a Christian record as his first solo album. Even if the music hadn’t turned out to be so exceptional, that move alone would have spoken volumes.
Copyright © 2006 CCM Magazine, Used by Permission
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