Baylee Littrell is following in his dad’s footsteps — literally!
The 16-year-old new country artist will be joining his dad Brian Littrell and the rest of the Backstreet Boys on the North American leg of their DNA World Tour this summer, which be the group’s biggest arena tour in 18 years.
“Since I was 6 years old, my dream has always been to go on tour,” Littrell, 16, exclusively told PEOPLE. “I wanted to do what my dad did. One of their shows — I think it was the tour after their album This Is Us from 2009 — they went out on the road and I remember right before they went on, I put on one of my dad’s jackets from one of his outfits in his dressing room and I stood in front of the mirror. He comes in and is like, ‘Hey Bubs, what are you doing?’ and I’m like, ‘Well I want to be like you.’ I asked, ‘Can I get up there instead one day?’ He was like, ‘Well, you never know.’ And now the opportunity to open for him and the guys is like that 6-year-old self standing in front of that mirror in his dressing room with his jacket on. It’s a dream come true.”
Littrell — who dropped his new single “Don’t Knock It” in November — will be releasing his first album this summer and could not be more thrilled.
“We’ve been developing this for the past year and my parents have been with me every step of the way,” Littrell said. “My mom, who’s my manager, she’s been working so hard and my dad has been there helping out with everything. Fans can expect something very personal. This is everything I grew up on – everything is relatable. That’s what we wanted.”
But growing up in the industry, Littrell said he always imagined he’d venture into pop music — not country.
“I listened to country music with my grandparents,” he said. “It was [about] bonding with the family. I never expected to go into country music — I honestly thought it was going to be pop. My parents knew how much I loved country. They said, ‘Why not country?’ I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be accepted. There’s not a 16-year-old in country.’ And they said, ‘You can be the first. Why don’t you change the game and why don’t we help you?’ So I was like, ‘Let’s do it!’”
“They’ve always supported everything I’ve done,” he added. “They never pushed me into music. At first, they didn’t know if it was a good idea. When I was younger they used to have talks about it. It was about a year and a half ago, I talked to my parents and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I want to make music and I want people to hear what I have to say.”
Since then, the Georgia native has been making a name for himself in the country music world — and it’s only the beginning.
“Growing up on the road, the good thing is knowing what to expect,” he said. “Everything honestly has been so new even for the industry, just coming into it — it’s never been my project, it’s been my dad’s. So, when it’s my project it’s different. I’m up for the challenge and I’m ready to do my best!”
“Everything’s falling into place and it’s been a really nice ride so far,” he added.
The Backstreet Boys world tour will kick off in Portugal on May 11 and will touch down in Europe and then head to the US until mid-September.
“We are stoked to finally be here again gearing up for a new album, new tour, and brand new single,” bandmate AJ McLean previously told PEOPLE. “There are so many amazing things we have up our sleeves. It’s really nice to see the actual payday when we’ve been busting our butt in the studio. We’ve been working on this record for quite some time now, it’s finally about to be sooner or later presented to the world.”
While in full swing with their Las Vegas residency, the “Larger Than Life” hitmakers, who just celebrated 25 years together, could not feel more grateful for this new chapter.
“For a group like us to still be here 25 years later is a huge testament to the music and a huge testament to our fans — the most loyal fans in the world sticking with us the entire time and they continue to push us to strive and be better,” McLean said.