Considering she is just a couple of months shy of celebrating her 34th birthday, LeAnn Rimes has already lived a remarkably full life.
It was Rimes’ smash 1996 single “Blue” – a track that showcased her dynamic, powerful vocal range that earned her comparisons to the late Patsy Cline – that ultimately made the world stand-up and take notice of then 13 year-old LeAnn Rimes.
Her debut record would go on to sell an astonishing 6 million copies in the two years after its release, earning the singer a pair of Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Rimes career has encompassed so much more than that one record, however. Subsequent releases including 1997’s You Light Up My Life, Sittin’ On Top of the World (1998), 1999’s self-titled album, I Need You (2001) and 2002’s Twisted Angel sold more than a combined 4 million copies in the U.S. alone.
“I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. My father has tapes of me singing when I was 18 months old, even though you can’t necessarily understand what I was saying,” Rimes says with a laugh. “From the time I was young, I felt as though music was my calling, that it was something I was supposed to do.”
By the time she was 13 years old, Rimes had achieved more than what some musicians accomplish during the whole course of their life. She acknowledges how fortunate she was to find such widespread success early in her career, but notes that it came at a significant cost.
“I knew I wanted to sing, and that I was being given a great opportunity, but it was still a lot to digest. Being a teenager and thrust into the spotlight where all eyes are on you doing three shows a day, there’s no book to guide you on what to expect along the way. I ended up playing upwards of 500 shows in three and a half years; it was intense. At the time, I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me.”
As her career progressed, so did the maturity and sound afforded to her songs. Around the turn of the century, Rimes evolved from a country music sweetheart to embrace a pop sound that, thanks to chart-topping singles like “Can’t Fight The Moonlight” and “How Do I Live,” exposed the singer to an even greater fan base.
“From the outset of my career, I was intent on growing and doing different things, but at the turn of the century, the lines between pop and country were well-drawn, lines that don’t necessarily exist today,” Rimes declares. “With the release of ‘How Do I Live,” the head of my label asked if I minded them working the song to Top 40 radio. It was never a conscious decision on my part to crossover to pop or anything like that. I never wanted my country audience to feel as though I had abandoned them.”
Fortunately for Rimes, her fans have faithfully remained at her side for the duration of the last 20 years, even as she has ventured into the realm of acting and becoming an author. She says having the opportunity to pursue those different outlets has proven to be invigorating.
“I love writing music and writing songs. One day, I found a place that I could write from that is so emotional and so deep, creating something from nothing. Acting and writing is a whole different animal for me, because neither one of those outlets are something that I’ve been doing since I was a little kid. I see both of those things are natural extensions of what I do as a singer,” she says.
Despite having expanded her talents beyond the world of music over the last number of years, Rimes is still a musician at heart. With a new studio album in the works – her first since 2013’s Spitfire – the singer says she is relishing the creative freedom that she has been afforded with the making of her still untitled record.
“I spent 20 years at the same record label, so now that I am no longer with them, I want to take advantage of not needing to fit into pre-determined parameters as to what kind of music I should be making. It’s really the first time in my career that I have not had to make music that fits within a certain box. It’s an exciting time to be an artist,” Rimes says.
“It’s an interesting place to be, because I have a lifetime of experience and knowledge behind me, but am in a position where I can essentially throw the rulebook out the window and treat myself as a new artist. Having the chance to bring a different energy to the table is exciting at this point in the game.”
What: LeAnn Rimes
When: Friday June 10, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets start at $49.99 plus service charges and taxes. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone 1-866-943-8849 and online www.casinonb.ca