When LeAnn Rimes says “I’m not into small talk,” she means it. Speaking to the singer at her Los Angeles home, it’s easy to see that this is someone who, unlike some polished pop stars, prefers big topics to hollow platitudes. For several years, the singer, actor, and all-round megastar has also been doing what many other pop stars have done: start a podcast. But hers goes deeper than most.
in the Whole human, Rimes digs into the human psyche and mostly into their emotional wounds. “Each episode is a form of therapy,” she laughs, hinting that the concept of sharing your innermost thoughts with strangers might not be as clumsy as it sounds.
“I’m a very curious person,” she adds. “I just wanted a place where I could connect with people and learn with them on a human level.”
Considering she’s a former child star who gave up a normal teenage life for celebrity isolation, Rimes’ need for connection is understandable. The Mississippi-born, Texas-raised singer turned 40 last month but was only 13 when she was thrust onto the global stage.
Her powerful take on the 1950s country classic “Blue” went stratospheric and was followed by 1997’s hit power ballad “How Do I Live.” and the following year, she became the first country singer to win Artist of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards. And yet success had its price. “I grew up as ‘the little girl with the big voice,'” she recalls. “But so much of my humanity has been left out.”
Rimes has long been interested in showing himself from other sides. “Yes, I have this amazing voice, and yes, I’m a songwriter and an artist, but there’s so much I want to share with people,” she says. There’s certainly plenty of that on their 15th studio album, the work of Godwith his searching, astute songwriting about struggle and acceptance. Whole human, with its “deeper talks,” also helped appeal to Rimes’ endless curiosity. Past guests on the podcast have included life coach Martha Beck, motivational speaker Mel Robbins and author Bethany Webster.
With Webster, Rimes discussed the “mother wound,” a theory that your relationship with your mother affects every other relationship in your life. It’s one episode that Rimes says was particularly challenging, and in it she describes her relationship with her mother as “traumatic.” “The conversation was pretty intense,” says Rimes today. “I thought I was projecting my father’s problems onto my husband – and I just realized that it’s not my father’s problems, it’s my mother’s problems,” she admits with one breath in the podcast.
Rimes and her mother became a close unit when they moved to California together in 1997 after her parents’ divorce. Then, in 2000, Rimes became embroiled in a legal battle with her father, Wilbur C. Rimes, and her former manager, Lyle Walker, in which they claimed they robbed her of around $7 million (£6.16 million) in revenue. cheated from the last five years . Since Rimes was still a minor, her mother, Belinda Rimes, filed the lawsuit on her behalf.
Although not as extreme as the case of Britney Spears’ conservatory, run by Spears’ father, there is a clear comparison between these experiences. “I definitely see a lot of similarities,” says Rimes, who is just nine months Spears’ junior. Not only did the two meet in the late ’90s pop era and have less than traditional working relationships with their fathers, but they both suffered in an industry where young women are often made to feel like they are for sale.
“At the end of the day, when you’re in the public eye, everyone wants to make money out of it,” says Rimes. “You become a commodity instead of a person, and that breaks my heart. And I’ve been there – I’ve experienced many of the same things. My heart goes out to her.”
The two aren’t close, but Rimes has nonetheless felt protective of her fellow artist. “I just saw something about her ex-husband and his family doing an interview about her and my first thought was, ‘Leave that poor woman alone! She’s been through enough!’”
Rimes will be the first to admit breaking through as a kid was terrifying. “Nobody can prepare you for fame, especially the way I rose to success at such a young age,” she says. “I was never prepared for that.” In her prime, she played 500 shows over three and a half years. And that was before Can’t Fight the Moonlight came out.
The song was a big hit from the 2000 film coyote ugly — in which she also starred as herself — but by the time it was released, Rimes was ready to take a backseat. “I put zero pressure on this song,” she recalls, “zero TV appearances while it was #1 in 11 countries. There was a good eight months where I was like, ‘I’m over it, I can’t do this anymore.'”
This all happened at the same time that Rimes was embroiled in legal battles with her father and her label. a compilation I need you, was released in January 2001 to help Rimes fulfill her contractual obligations, but she was quick to disown the album. In 2002 she was finally able to become self-employed. The pop slant Twisted Angel would be Rimes’ first album made outside of her father’s management company and the first on which he did not serve as producer. Rimes took the executive producer title.
That same year, Rimes married professional dancer Dean Sheremet. Four more albums followed Twisted Angel in the 2000s, until nearly a decade after her legal battle, Rimes once again hit tabloid headlines with news of an affair with Eddie Cibrian, her co-star in the 2009 TV movie northern lights. In 2014, the couple, who married in 2011, starred in their own VH1 reality show.
“We’d been through so much publicly in the press, and it was our way of taking back the narrative,” says Rimes. “You either collapse under the weight or try to have a sense of humor, and I think it was our way of making fun of everything.” Still, flirting with reality stars isn’t a move Rimes is likely to repeat becomes. “Would we do it again now? Absolutely not!”
In 2019, Rimes embarked on an even more unlikely collaboration, lending her powerful vocals to “CU in Hell,” a lush, prog-heavy rock anthem on Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders’ 2019 album got the money. Later this month, she will perform at the Los Angeles tribute concert for the much-loved Foo Fighters drummer, who passed away earlier this year. Perhaps one of the more surprising names on the bill, Rimes was actually close friends with Hawkins. Neighbors in LA, they also found a common connection in their Texas upbringing.
“I saw him riding his bike or walking with his wife practically every day,” says Rimes. “Our sons went to the same school.” After seeing Rimes perform at a school event, Hawkins mentally held out his hand. “He said, ‘Oh my God, we have to do something together.’ He was honestly one of the kindest, most generous and humble people you would ever meet,” she adds. “So happy. It still breaks my heart to this day to think that he is no longer here.”
Since winning the 2020 US season from The Masked Singer As the mass market sun, Rimes has kept her creative projects focused. In addition to the podcast, there is the work of Godcoming six years after 2016 leftovers. “It’s probably the longest time it’s ever taken me to make a record,” says Rimes the work of God. “I didn’t have writer’s block, but I was a little uninspired,” she explains. For better or worse, the trials of Covid-19 gave Rimes a fresh perspective. “As a creator, I allowed life to affect me as it unfolded.”
One song in particular, the feminist rallying cry “The Wild,” which features co-vocals from country star Mickey Guyton and drums from the legendary Sheila E., is considered by many to be from the recent setbacks in women’s reproductive health, beginning with the angry lines: “The persecution of the woman / The burning took too long”. “When people here in America hear the song, they think I wrote it about it,” she says. “I mean, no, but it’s definitely true!”
Although the song was recorded long before the overthrow Deer vs Wade, abortion rights are still an issue that Rimes is passionate about. “This isn’t a new narrative,” she says. “This has been playing out since the dawn of time when women were unable to be our fully sovereign selves in this world. Guns have more rights here in America than women right now.”
“I hope this album makes people think and question,” she adds. “Do I really believe everything I’ve been fed? How can I show myself to be more loving and compassionate? I hope that with this kind of record I leave a piece of that in the world.”
God’s Work will be released on September 16th