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Rimes keeps family, career in balance

County singer feels good about life as tour rolls into Oregon


Singer LeAnn Rimes will perform at Oregon's Chinook Winds Casino.Life hasn’t started anew at age 30 for LeAnn Rimes, who will stage a pair of concerts at Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City on Dec. 1 and 2.

But it has signaled an awakening for the country-singing superstar, a new reflection on a life that suddenly has even more to offer than before.

Her April 2011 marriage to actor Eddie Cibrian (despite the controversy surrounding the fact that their affair began before either were divorced from a first hubby) and a month-long stint in rehab for anxiety and stress early this fall have changed Rimes’ perspective in a good way.

Rimes, who turned 30 in August, was a child sensation who had her first hit single, “Blue,” when she was 13. Born in Mississippi and raised in Texas, Rimes has sold more than 40 million albums, won two Grammy awards (the youngest ever to win, at 14), three Academy of Country Music awards and 12 Billboard Music awards.

She has had 13 top-10 country hits, including “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” which went No. 1 in 11 countries. But the crossover hit “How Do I Live?” — a great song in any genre — is her calling card and one of the most successful songs ever, having spent a record 69 weeks on the U.S. top-100 charts.

On her current tour, Rimes taps into her vast repertoire and also performs songs from her upcoming album, “Spitfire,” scheduled for released next spring. The first single off that album, “Borrowed,” came out on iTunes on Tuesday.

Rimes spoke to the Portland Tribune via telephone recently from Winchester, Va., where she was in the midst of her tour:

Tribune: Nice to have you playing Chinook Winds. How often have you played shows in Oregon?

Rimes: Many times. They have great fans there. I’ve played all over Oregon. It’s one of my favorite states. We always look forward to playing there. I love the people; I love Portland itself. It’s so beautiful up there. The family of my bass player’s wife is from Oregon. My husband’s family and grandparents used to live in Oregon. Eddie and I and all of the guys in the band have sat around the last two weeks and talked about that we’re going to establish a commune there and hide from the rest of the world.

Tribune: You played at the Patsy Cline Theater in Winchester. She was such an inspiration in your career. Does this have special meaning for you?

Rimes: We’ve been on tour now for the last four weeks and we’re starting to do a little holiday music tonight, so that will be fun. And yes, she was an inspiration. My dad brought me up on classic country music with some amazing male singers and Patsy Cline. I’ve listened to her music since I was a baby. I think I learned how to emote from her. She was one of the greatest connectors when it came to telling a story in a song. My dad always pointed that out to me about her music. She knew how to make people connect better than anybody.

Tribune: Your first hit, “Blue,” came at age 13. By then, you’d been singing for more than a decade. Do you have fond memories of your times performing at a very young age?

Rimes: I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t on stage. I started at 5. I’m glad I started that young. I had no fear whatsover, and I still don’t. Oh, there have been moments where I’m anxious and ready to go, but as soon as I hit the stage, it’s, ‘OK, I got this, I know what I’m doing.’ It’s almost like breathing for me.

I make fond memories every night. I have such a great band and crew. We have fun. I love performing. It’s a high. I went through a period of many years where it was just exhausting. Now with this tour, it’s actually coming back around where I’m truly enjoying the whole process of it.

Tribune: You have had some crossover hits — “How Do I Live?” is one of my favorite songs ever — and performed a wide variety of songs over the years, but it would seem you are a country singer at heart. Why?

Rimes: I’ve dabbled in everything — it would have been sad if I hadn’t — but classic country music is what I love. There is something about it is so real and honest. It’s a lost art form, that’s for sure. Telling a true story is where country music comes in. On my album "Lady and Gentlemen: last year, we recorded so many of the songs I grew up on. There is such an honesty about those songs.

That’s what I’m most proud of on the new record. I feel like there is something very deep ... a humanity to the album that’s hard to find these days. There’s a truth I know I haven’t had in my music until now. There’s something about storytelling and great singer/songwriters that I find myself falling into and finding my artistry.

Tribune: How does it feel to be in your 30s now?

Rimes: It doesn’t feel any different. Have I grown up and learned a lot over the years? Of course. I feel much more settled at this point than I ever have in my life. I’m happy, really happy.

Tribune: You’ve authored four books, including the latest, an inspirational book, “What I Cannot Change.” What is the theme there?

Rimes: The book title is taken from a song off my last studio album, “Family,” which was the beginning of me starting to write about my life experiences. It came out of a really hard time ... experiencing myself with my parents, struggling to understand life at the moment. I felt like there was something very relatable about that song.

When we put it out and people started to hear it, there were so many people who grabbed me after a show and said they had a story to tell me. It was amazing to hear those stories. There’s something there that I think people needed. It touched me so deeply, I wanted to put it out there in book form. It’s a cool thing to be able to write something like that that connected with so many people who were willing to share things they never would have otherwise.

Tribune: Your new single, “Borrowed,” was released this week. What’s it about?

Rimes: I spoke the truth on the upcoming album at no one else’s expense but mine. The song is about my relationship with Eddie, which is great now, but it was a very dark moment. It comes from a darkness that I had through my life, a feeling of full abandonment. It speaks about where I was at that moment in my life. We’ve all had to give up on a love in our lives. If you’ve been in that situation, you know it sucks. There’s nothing happy or nice about it. It’s something a lot of people will relate to, something I am incredibly proud of.

Tribune: Why your recent stint in rehab? Was there a positive result?

Rimes: I call it “intensive care therapy.” I checked myself in the day after my 30th birthday. I said it would be the best birthday present I could give myself. It was like, 30 days after 30 years, let’s see what this can do for me. I had a reason for going in. I had a sense of humor about it. I enjoyed it. I could deal with things privately that I’ve needed to deal with since I was a child.

It was to learn to live amongst the craziness that is my life and enjoy it again and not it let it affect me as much as it has in recent years. It was very good for me. I’m enjoying touring now. I’m taking a fresh breath of new things. It feels good. I have a peace I haven’t had in a long time.

Tribune: How is your marriage with Eddie?

Rimes: We have a great relationship, a wonderful family life. Everything I have been through this year, he has been incredibly supportive. He has been there for me through everything.

Tribune: Do you want children?

Rimes: I think so eventually, when the time is right. I don’t know if there is ever a right time, but it is something we have discussed. He has two sons, 5 and 9, whom we have half the time. We have a new puppy, a little mutt that I think is half Chihuahua, half Dachshund. It was thrown out of a car at three or four months old. One of my friends tweeted about it. We have three older dogs. The kids have been wanting a new puppy, so I told my friend to bring her over and we fell in love with her.

Tribune: What are you most proud of that you’ve accomplished in your career so far?

Rimes: My longevity, especially with starting out as a child star. It wasn’t as much novelty when I started. I’ve always had the voice to back it up and the maturity came as I started to grow. I wasn’t just that little girl with a big voice. I feel very settled in where I’m at right now, very confident in the future. More than I ever have.

It’s why I’m so excited about my new album. I’m more proud of it than anything I’ve done. I can say that with 100 percent conviction. There’s a humanity to it that I’ve never brought to my music before. After going through what I’ve gone through, I’m on the other side now. I’m very proud of where I’m at at this moment and the music I’m making. I’ve grown with every album, but I had so much fun making this one, collaborating with great artists like Rob Thomas and Jeff Beck ... the whole album itself was such an amazing experience, I didn’t want to stop recording.

Tribune: What are your goals as you look toward the future?

Rimes: To be satisfied and content and happy with where I’m at, whether personally or professionally. To be authentic in everything I do. I would love to write more books, to act more, to take on things that challenge me. And to continue to make good music. I’m always thinking, "What’s next?" I’d love to do a bunch of stuff. I love being creative. It doesn’t stop at music, although that’s my first love and passion more than anything. The whole world’s opening up for me all of a sudden. Maybe it’s because my mind and heart are so open now.

Event info: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, at Chinook Winds Casino, Lincoln City; tickets $30-$45 at http://www.chinookwindscasino.com or 1-888-MAIN-ACT.