Like father, like son!
Backstreet Boys’ Brian Littrell has shown his 16-year-old son Baylee the meaning of following his dreams. On Friday, Baylee released his single “Don’t Knock It,” marking the launch of his country music career.
“It really felt right,” Baylee tells PEOPLE about the timing of the single’s release just days after celebrating his 16th birthday. “My mom, dad and I were just talking about it one night and they said they thought now was the perfect time to start. We chose November, the month of my birthday, to release the first single.”
But the celebrations didn’t stop there! Because mom is always right, Baylee says “of course” it was mom Leighanne’s “amazing idea” to throw a huge Sweet 16 bash in Atlanta and show partygoers a good time by performing his new track.
“When it comes to family, it’s a completely different energy, so I’m so nervous to perform in front of my family,” Baylee says leading up to his debut performance on Saturday night.
Going for “a cool Rat Pack-type of vibe,” Baylee dressed to the nines for the black-tie bash in a tux jacket, black trousers, black suspenders, a white shirt and a bowtie with a cowboy hat top it off. In addition to a room full of close family and friends, Baylee was also joined by cousin and fellow Backstreet Boys member Kevin Richardson.
The single — a “bouncy, fun, Florida Georgia Line-type” of song, which claps back at those who would criticize something until they’ve truly experienced it — was produced by songwriter Corey Crowder through Tree Vibez (Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line‘s music publishing company), and sounds like it could have been on the hit country duo’s third studio album, Dig Your Roots.
“You can’t relate to any other song like you can to a country song, and that’s why I bonded with it so much and that’s why it’s my favorite genre,” Baylee says about why he chose to pursue a career in country as opposed to pop, like his father. “If I was ever going through a breakup or hard time, I always listened to country music — it’s Luke Combs or something super country that tells a story.”
Forever a fan of “old country,” Baylee says it was Backstreet Boys’ collaboration with the men of FGL for their single "God, Your Mama, And Me" that inspired him to get in touch with the melodies and sounds of “newer country.”
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“I didn’t really figure it out truly until we recorded last that my heart was set on this,” he says. “I just thought it would be something to try, so seeing this go the way it did I think we just all realized this was a good path.”
Now recording with the team behind some of country music’s greatest names, Baylee can’t believe he’s “living out his dreams” to the fullest potential, and with zero added pressure.
“My dad has always been my champion, so he’s always told me to just do what I want to do and follow my dreams, and to do my best and not overthink it,” Baylee says about the advice he’s received from his father. “It’s really just taken so much pressure off.”