It started with an email. “I wrote this song and I keep hearing your voices on it. I know you’re making a record — if you want to cut it, great. If not, no big deal.” The message was from Taylor Swift to Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town. Attached was a demo for the future hit, “Better Man.”
“We thanked the good Lord it didn’t go in his spam folder,” Sweet’s bandmate Kimberly Schlapman joked to PEOPLE.
Sweet sent the demo to the rest of Little Big Town to get their thoughts and the verdict was was immediate and unanimous. “We all listened to it individually and then we were on the road with Luke Bryan all year,” explains Schlapman. “So every evening in the dressing room when we were getting ready, we would play the song over and over and over.” They were smitten. “Instantly that chorus had us hooked. The lush harmony felt so much like us!”
Fast forward a couple of months and Little Big Town has added another No. 1 song to their collection. It just another notch of their belt of accolades they’ve recently accumulated — including the start of their year-long residency at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the first of its kind for the historic venue. The kick-off featured surprise guests Sam Hunt, Andra Day, Ashley Monroe and Chris Stapleton.
“That place is so sacred – it’s iconic of course, but it also sounds so good in there,” Sweet tells PEOPLE. “You can do things in there [musically] you can’t do any place else.”
Add Schlapman: “There’s something so spiritual about it. It’s a church— it’s just reverence and history. When you stand on the stage, you better bring your best game, because so many people before you have.”
For more about Little Big Town’s new album, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
So far, 2017 doesn’t suck for Little Big Town. Only a few months into the new year, the band has already released their highly anticipated album The Breaker on Feb. 24, performed at the Grammys, received an ACM award nomination and added a fourth ‘Little Big Kid’ to the band when Kimberly Schlapman and her husband announced they’d adopted Dolly Grace.
Little Big Town’s brand new album The Breaker is now available for download.