Country/pop star LeAnn Rimes talks about her 25 years in the music industry and using her voice to heal the world
TAMMYE NASH | Managing Editor
LeAnn Rimes — who was born in Mississippi but moved with her family to Garland here in North Texas at age 6 — first hit it big at age 13, in 1996, with her recording of “Blue.” The next year, her debut album of the same name hit number one on the Top Country Albums chart.
In the 25 years since, Rimes has cemented her place in the galaxy of country and pop music. She has, according to her website, sold more than 44 million units won two Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, two World Music Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, one Country Music Association Award and one Dove Award.
That list includes the Grammy for Best New Artist, which she won at age 14, making her the youngest person to ever win a Grammy.
But Rimes has made her mark as more than just a singer. She has received the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally of Equality Award in recognition of her more than 20 years of support for LGBTQ civil rights. In 2019, she received the HOPE Award for Depression Advocacy, and in 2009 she received ACM Humanitarian Award.
Her desire to use her voice to help heal the world led to the November 2020 release of CHANT: The Human and The Holy, and she continues her wellness journey with her iHeartRadio podcast, Wholly Human, and her lifestyle blog, Soul of EverLe. Rimes will celebrate her 25th anniversary as a recording artist with the release next year of her newest studio album, God’s Work.
Rimes is coming home to North Texas for her “Home for the Holidays” concert Dec. 17 at the Winspear Opera House, and she recently sat down to answer a few questions for Dallas Voice about that concert, her support for the LGBTQ community and her 25 years in the public eye.
AT&T Performing Arts Center presents LeAnn Rimes: Home for the Holidays
Friday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m.
at the Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
Tickets start at $39.25
Available at ATTPAC.org
Dallas Voice: First of all LeAnn, thank you for agreeing to take the time to answer some questions for us. I know this year you are celebrating your 25th anniversary as a recording artist, how does that make you feel? And what are you most proud of accomplishing over the last 25 years? LeAnn Rimes: It’s a bit unbelievable that it’s been 25 years. I’m humbled and exhausted, lol — and still passionate about creating after all of these years.
Honestly, my biggest accomplishment is still being here after 25 years in this business; many aren’t. And, not only having survived thus far, but having created a life where I’m thriving — mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, creatively. I feel more whole than ever, and I am incredibly proud of the woman I am.
Being in the industry for 25 years now, what is one lesson that you have learned and hope to pass along to others who enter the industry at a young age? Trust your inner voice and always use that as your compass. There will be many outside voices and so much noise that will try to influence your journey, but you and your heart always know what’s best for you.
How has your music evolved through the years, and how do the changes in your music reflect your own personal evolution? The way I express within anything I create is straight from my heart and as authentic as possible. I want people to be emotionally impacted and inspired to be more of themselves.
Speaking of healing, last year in November, you released Chant: The Human and the Holy. You also launched your spiritual health and wellness podcast, Wholly Human, about the same time. Talk about using music for healing — not just for yourself, but for others. The last several years have been about exploring the totality of my voice and my heart. The voice is powerful and a profound tool for healing. I have been so proficient in one aspect of my voice, but there are so many other pieces of me that I have wanted to express.
Enter my Wholly Human podcast. I have loved being able to explore new pieces of myself through the podcast and use my speaking voice to have real conversations about the totality of this human experience with a diverse group of outliers like myself. I learn something new and valuable with each podcast and get to connect on a deeper level than ever before.
The Chant album actually came about after a conversation with a dear friend. She asked me if I had ever used my voice for my own healing. I guess my voice had been everyone else’s for so long that I forgot that it was mine. So, I started chanting as part of my meditation practice, which helped me reclaim my voice as my own.
That practice is what inspired the record. I wanted to help people create their own practice and return home to their own hearts and voices.
You have been very vocal about your support for the LGBTQ community. Some people might see that as unexpected for someone from a “small” Texas town who grew up in the country music industry. How did you come to be such a strong ally for the community? My uncle, who I loved dearly, died from complications of AIDS/HIV when I was so very young. It was during a time when no one would even talk about it. Ever since, I wanted to give him a voice he never had and to give others support that he never ever received. I love the LGBTQIA+ family. They are my family. I will always stand up for them. They have always stood by me, and I love them for that.
There have been performers/actors/entertainers/celebrities/athletes who have seen their careers be damaged because they spoke out about controversial issues. There are folks who feel like entertainers, etc., should just “shut up and sing,” or “shut up and play ball.” Do you feel like you have a responsibility to speak up about things that matter to you — whether that be LGBTQ equality or some political candidate, etc. — or is it just your responsibility to entertain? There was a point in my early career where I was told to not have any opinion, as it would deter people from buying my albums. That really did fracture off pieces of me, as I thought I had to keep parts of myself hidden that were “unacceptable.” However, that didn’t last too long before I had to make a stand.
I used to feel like I was here to only entertain, but I truly believe that my humanity is what I’m really here to share. I’m not a show pony; I’m here to connect. If you simply want to check out with your entertainment, I’m not your artist. I’m here to make you feel — joy, pain, anger, passion. That’s what I’m here for.
On a lighter note, on your Twitter feed, you announced your concert here in Dallas at the Winspear, you said, “Dallas, I’m coming home for the holidays!” Do you still think of Dallas/North Texas as “home”? Do you still have family here, and how often do you come “home” to visit? Home, for me, is within — wherever I am. But, yes, I have family there. I love Texas and my Texas fam! It just felt so right to do a Christmas show there after what everyone has gone through these last couple of years. I am excited to be back.
Tell us about your upcoming album God’s Work. What is the inspiration behind your new music? The new album is inspired by my own spiritual journey that I know I am not alone in, especially during this time when we all are awakening to a deeper truth and our intrinsic connectedness. It’s music that speaks to the times we are currently experiencing.
God’s Work is meant to inspire, to bring hope, to make us all think about the bigger picture at hand and what kind of future we want to create for ourselves, personally and as one collective beating heart.
It’s a deep and powerful record. I’m honored to be the conduit that was given this record to create and birth out into the world.
I am sending you these questions in late September. What is happening for you between now and December when you are coming to Dallas for the holiday concert? What is coming up in 2022 that we should be watching for? And what have I not asked about that you want to mention? We’ve been so busy behind the scenes this year and have a few big surprises in store to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Blue. So keep a look out for that. I can tell you my new album, God’s Work, will be released next year. I am working with the most talented souls, and I can’t wait for you to hear it.
I’ve also been perfecting the fragrance for this year’s Soul Of EverLe Holiday Candle. I make all of them myself (with a little help from Eddie); be sure to check those out. And, of course, season 3 of Wholly Human will be coming your way soon with some amazing new guests.
I’ll also be back on your screens as a judge on a new Discovery+ show, Meet Your Makers Showdown. It premiere[d] on Nov. 27 with host Chrissy Metz and fellow judge Mark Montano. It’s super fun!