Little Big Town can lay claim to one of America’s most patriotic moments so far in 2017, after singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the College Football National Championship Game in January.
But the CMA and ACM Vocal Group of the Year remembers another anthem performance that didn’t go nearly as smoothly. That time, they were performing before a college basketball game aboard a U.S. military ship.
“The captain of the ship invited us to see his guest quarters, and so we had toured the whole ship,” Karen Fairchild recalls. “And we thought the people from Fox would tell us that we were about to be live… And somebody came around the corner and said, ‘They’re introducing you.’”
At that moment, panic set in.
“So we take off running. We always have pitch pipes everywhere,” Karen says. “Well, we didn’t because we weren’t ready to sing. So we’re walking on the basketball court, and they’re going ‘Ladies and gentlemen, from Nashville, Tennessee, make welcome…’ And I look over and I go, ‘We don’t have a pitch pipe!’”
Luckily, LBT’s tour manager came to their rescue.
“[He] threw it, and it slid on the ground, [I] picked it up,” Karen says, mimicking the tone of the pitch pipe, before launching into the song. “And that’s the most nerve-wracking anthem that we’ve ever done,” Karen finishes, as her bandmates erupt in laughter.
“That was terrifying!” Jimi Westbrook agrees.
“We all had a drink after that one!” Phillip Sweet jokes.
Little Big Town continues their year-long residency at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium later this month.
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