THE TROUBADOURS

"We've always had our lowest moments and our greatest moments together," says Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild. In the past four years, she and bandmates Kimberly Roads, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook have weathered the critical and commercial failure of their 2002 debut, and the sudden death at 41 of Roads's husband, Steven, the band's lawyer. His funeral, during which Roads unexpectedly joined the others in a song, "was such a powerful moment of unity," says Sweet, 32. They retrenched, and now tough times have seemingly been banished—"It's like a day spa instead of boot camp," cracks Roads, 37. And there is plenty to celebrate: two CMA nods (keyed to the success of their '05 CD The Road to Here, with its hit single "Boondocks") and the hush-hush May wedding of Fairchild, 39, and Westbrook, 35, in a pal's Nashville backyard. Though they didn't let word out till July, "we didn't keep it secret, we kept it private," stresses Fairchild. "I had on flip-flops and blue jeans, and she wore a pretty little white dress and cowboy boots," Westbrook recalls. "I wore them to do a show later," Fairchild says, "and Jimi goes, 'Honey, you got your wedding boots on!' It was redneck!"