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Little Big Time

A CMA Awards surprise, an exhilarating new album and tour, an Opry induction—when the heck do these fan favorites sleep?

Written By:  Katy Lindenmuth

Photographers:  The Tennessean

Little Big Town loves a good tease.

Here’s what we know about their performance at the 48th annual CMA Awards on November 5 (7 p.m. CT on ABC): The Vocal Group of the Year nominees will be singing their still-going-strong summer single “Day Drinking.” Their wardrobe has been ready since August because of some “special things” that had to be done to the outfits. And…that’s it. Well, and the whole Ariana Grande thing.

“We’ve worked up this really, really, really fun twist on the production,” confesses singer Kimberly Schlapman. “We love when we get to bring songs to life on TV, and we love when we can just do something totally unexpected—and I think this is one of those [moments].”        

Until the big reveal, fans can soak up the band’s electrifying new album, Pain Killer, which dropped late last month. It’s the sixth studio release for the foursome—Schlapman, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet—and their first as Grammy winners. The entire album centers on the appropriately feel-good title track: “[That song] came along and we thought, ‘Hey, what a great title for a record; let’s make this album an escape,’” Schlapman explains. “People can dive into it and hopefully by the end of it they’re feeling a whole lot better.”

At an emotional induction ceremony last month, they joined the legendary Grand Ole Opry dynasty. (You’ll want to grab some Kleenex and watch the video of Reba McEntire stunning the group mid-song to announce their invitation—even Westbrook shed a few tears.)

Just three days after stepping off the CMA Awards stage, Little Big Town hops back on their tour bus for a 14-city fall/winter run with openers Brett Eldredge and Brothers Osborne. It’s their most exciting tour yet—they’re performing bigger, harder, better—all made possible, Schlapman notes, “now that things have caught on.” Is there a CMA Award for Dramatic Understatement of the Year?

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