Drama Major: Singer LeAnn Rimes Gets Emotional on Her Latest Release, Spitfire 

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A quick Google search for anything new related to country singer LeAnn Rimes will yield thousands of results. At the time of this particular phone interview, she was spotted on her way to the grocery store in a pair of sexy cut-off shorts. Photos were taken and posted (we gotta admit that she still looks great even without make-up so the photographer who took the shots can suck it).

"It's funny because someone said there was a picture of me going to the grocery store yesterday and I'm pretty aware of photographers," Rimes says from her Los Angeles home. "That's the creepiest part, when I don't know someone is there. I would prefer they would jump out and show themselves. It seems stalker-ish. That's the stuff that freaks me out a little bit. Where we live, there are so many celebrities so the photographers will sit on every corner. As a woman, honestly, you just want to go to the grocery store with no makeup on and not care. That's all I'm asking for. That would be nice."

Since moving to Los Angeles about five years ago, Rimes regularly appears in the tabloids; a messy divorce in 2009 after her affair with actor Eddie Cibrian, who's now her husband, provided plenty for gossip columnists to report. But the 32-year-old Rimes is used to being in the spotlight. She's been performing since she was 5.

"I never had a fear of the stage because I was so young and I feel like I grew up on the stage," she says. "I didn't know anything else. I just thought it was normal. That all seemed pretty normal to me. I've had a crazy whirlwind life. Some people ask me if I'm fortysomething by now, but I just tell them not to push it."

Rimes first entered the studio when she was 7. Her first hit came when she was still a teen and the song "Blue," a track that features Rimes essentially yodeling as she shows off her vocal range, became a staple on country and pop radio and garnered comparisons to Patsy Cline. Over the years, she's embraced both pop and country music, something that she says is in keeping with her background.

"I consider music to be music," she says. "I grew up on everything from classical to Broadway show tunes to soul. I listened to everything. I never see a box or label when it comes to music. It's just whatever moves me. If it's metal and it moves me, I'll listen to it. It's about good music and connecting and making people feel something."

She started recording her latest album, 2013's Spitfire, in 2011 after she had just come out of a bitter divorce and subsequently remarried. The songs on the album chronicle the emotional rollercoaster ride.

"When I started writing it, I didn't set out to write that record," she says. "It just came out and it unfolded very naturally with the things I was going through at the time. There are four songs I didn't write. It was like putting a film together and finding songs that fit the story. It was a whole different way of making the record than I've ever done before. I didn't realize I could communicate from that level of honesty. I did and it was such a ride, and going into the studio and working with these incredible musicians was great. I would sit in a room and everyone would surround me in a circle. I wanted for it to feel live so we could all see each other. For some of it, I was lying on the floor."

From the twangy title track, a song about a "dirty little liar," to the somber "What Have I Done," a breakup ballad that comes off as a kind of confession, the album explores the drama she's experienced in the last few years. So was it difficult singing songs that are so personal?

"For sure," she says. "I think the biggest challenge for me is not being moved to tears or incredible anger or whatever it might be by some of these songs. Recording the album was like a real therapy session. Now, I can make it through all of them. There are moments when a lyric will mean something more to me at that time or will click back to something else. I think that's what's so great about the record and about how I learned to communicate. Those are real human emotions. I think growing up, I would suppress my humanity. When you're called a little girl with a big voice, that's difficult. I think that's what came across on this album was the humanity."

She also has a Christmas EP coming out this year — she says it will be the first of three Christmas EPs and will include a few tour dates in support of the release.

"I love Christmas and the holidays," she says. "I didn't want to record just one Christmas album. I wanted to make it hard on myself. It's fun to get the studio lit up and decorated and it's kind of like Christmas all year."

LeAnn Rimes

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, Hard Rock Live, 10777 Northfield Rd., Northfield, 330-908-7625. Tickets: $39.50-$59.50, hrrocksinonorthfield.com.


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