LeAnn Rimes

LeAnn Rimes:

Making Her OWN Way

This music sensation breaks all the rules when it comes to the stigma of growing up in the spotlight.

Even if you don’t listen to country music, you’re sure to know of LeAnn Rimes. Her songs have crossed the boundaries of music genres, from country to pop to christian.

But what you may not know is how it all began for this music star. For Rimes, it is a story of literally growing up on stage. However, unlike so many other celebrities that entered the limelight at a tender age, Rimes has maintained a level head and has developed a sense of maturity that is all too rare in the public eye.

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Rimes won her first talent show at the age of 5. Three years later, she performed for a much larger audience in an appearance on Star Search. And by the time she was 12, she had performed more than 100 concerts. But it was at the age of 13 that Rimes sang her way into the hearts of country music fans everywhere. Her album, Blue, sold more than 123,000 copies in the first week of its release and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album also led to two Grammy awards, one for “Best Female Country Vocal Performane” and one for “Best New Artist.” As a result, Rimes became a part of music history as the youngest female country singer to earn such accolades.

Upon meeting Rimes today, it is clear that she is no longer that little girl with the blonde ringlets that many people remember from Star Search. She is all grown up. But despite years spent in the public eye, Rimes has managed to keep her private life just that – private.

Rimes’ personal struggles, including those with her record label and with her own father, have been largely kept out of the spotlight, unlike most of her celebrity peers. And while the dispute with her record company quickly ended and her estrangement from her father mended in 2002, it was during those trials, and possibly because of them, that Rimes made one of her biggest career accomplishments. With the release of the album I Need You in 2001, the country music star leapt onto the pop charts.

In addition, Rimes has tied Christian and gospel music into her albums throughout her career. In 1997, she released You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs, which included an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.” The album debuted at No. 1 simultaneously on the Billboard 200, Top Country Albums, and Christian Albums charts. Rimes also appeared on the 2000 release of The Ultimate Popular Christian Songs with her version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Most recently, she recorded the soundtrack single “Ready for a Miracle” for the movie Evan Almighty.

For Rimes, though, it was always about returning to her roots – and she did so in 2005 with This Woman, the comeback album that brought her back onto the country charts for the first time in five years.

Since that time, Rimes has taken journals of life experiences and woven them into personal songs that express the heart and soul of who this woman has become. Her album, Whatever We Want, which was released solely in Europe, was her first collection where she co-wrote 10 of the 15 songs.

Her most recent album, Family, is her American debut as a songwriter. Rimes was involved in the majority of the songs and performs a duet with Jon Bon Jovi. She also collaborates with a Louisiana talens named Marc Broussard, who helps her get back to her soulful Southern roots in “Nothing Wrong.”

But Rimes talents go much further than music. In 2000, she made her big-screen acting debut in the film Coyote Ugly. And she has a starring role in the soon-to-be-released movie Good Intentions, which was filmed in and around Atlants. Her husband Dean Sheremet, even joined her on the set during filming to watch her train with acting coach John Homa. Rimes has also appeared as host for Nashville Star on USA Network and as co-host with British soul singer Joss Stone on CMT Crossroads.

And then there’s the literary side of Rimes. In 2003, she and Dean wrote a childrens book called Jag. It tells the story of a smalljaguar with a big roar and a tiny secret that made her a target for teasing at school. Rimes remembers from experience as she too remembers being picked on by other kids. The book talks about resisting peer pressure, making good choices, and trying new things. Jag’s New Friend, the second installment in the Jag series, was released in 2004. According to Rimes, there are five books planned in all.

Rimes likes to share her smile with children and is well known for her folre as the spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network. She visits regularly with cancer patients at various children’s hospitals. “It really puts your life into perspective to see these little heroes battling so much,” she says. It gives me very little to ever complain about.”

In addition, Rimes has pledged royalties and artist fees from her single, “I Need You,” to create a wing at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital that serves as the LeAnn Rimes Adventure Gym. This facility provides therapeutic rehabilitation services for patients. She also actively promotes the Children’s Miracle Network’s national telethons.

So what can Rimes’ fans look forward to in the future? The singer will appear at the 2008 CMT Country Music Awards on April 14, as she has been nominated for four awards, including “Video of the Year.” And this summer, Rimes will tour with Kenny Chesney on his “Poets and Pirates” Tour. “The tour with Kenny is going to be a blast!” says Rimes. “He has always remained the humble person I met more than 10 years ago. He really deserves all the success and opportunity that has come his way.”

Concertgoers are sure to hear some of the hits from Rimes’ last album, Family, released this past fall. The album debuted at No. 2 on country album charts and continues to garner rave reviews. “Family is the most honest I have been with any of my work so far,” explains Rimes. “I wasn’t trying ro be conscious of ‘hits’ or radio songs but was just trying to speak from my heart. I am really happy with it.”

With so much going on in her life, it’s a wonder that Rimes has any spare time. But she does carve out some for her personal passions, including an interest in fashion. She recently attended the Monique Lhuillier Show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, which seems only fitting as Rimes herself has grown into a graceful fashion icon. She also is committed to a healthy lifestyle that includes yoga sessions and eating right, two things that she attributes to staying healthy. Her schedule while on the road, she says, is surprisingly normal and regimented. “I am terribly boring on the road so I can have the energy to give the people what they pay for.”

And for relaxation in her downtime, Rimes enjoys “Good Friends and a Bottle of Wine.” The title is from one of the last cuts for her new album and ais soon to be released as a single. The some came from an entry in Rimes’ journal written on a plane ride home after a long tour. It is about her good friend JoAnna Daly. Often, the two women and their husbands get together to talk about life while sharing a bottle of wine. And the couples are linked by more than friendship, as JoAnna’s husband, Blair, is also a regular co-writer with Rimes.

When asked about her songwriting and how it has affected her personally, Rimes explains, “It has helped me to trust myself completely. I have shed a lot of baggage and fears that have collected over the years. I think everyone has seen the ups and downs I have faced throughout the years with family and record labels. In fact, the song, “What I Cannot Change,” was my song to say that life is too short to carry around negativity. I am very at peace with who I am, and I have learned forgiveness.”

One thing is certain for Rimes: At only 25 and with such broad talens, she has plenty to smile about. She is one of the few child stars to remain grounded while entering adulthood, and much of it may be attributed to her mother. After all, when Rimes is asked what she thinks of when she hears the term “Southern Beauty,” she immediately replies, “My mother – she is the epitome of a ‘Southern Beauty.’ ” As we see it, the trait seems to be genetic. [sb]