“I Don’t Wanna Play House”

LeAnn Rimes

Playing with dolls was never at the top of LeAnn Rimes’ “Things To Do” list. Even at the age of two, she was playing superstar — not house.

In just a short time, however, simply playing superstar has become a thing of the past. Today, LeAnn actually lives the role. She’s 14 years old and can sing the brick right off the walls of the house. Despite loads of press, which has often tagged her as a “14-year-old singing sensation,” as well as a youngster who’s missing out on a normal childhood, LeAnn is ultimately happy with her premature adult life.

“I’ve been singing on stage since I was five,” explains LeAnn, who just recently walked off the Academy of Country Music Awads Show stage with three more top honors. “So I’ve been in this business for a long time and I’ve never judged my work by age. I just hope nobody really does. I hope they see me as an artist and think of me for my music, because I’m not always going to be 14. Hopefully, when I’m 25, they’re still not going to be calling me a 25-year-old singing sensation. Hopefully, my music is good enough to stand on its own right now. And when I’m 25, they’ll be able to say ’She was good then, but she’s still good now and it wasn’t an age thing.'”

Along with the enormous praise for her singing talent, the Jackson, Mississippi native has learned to repeatedly defend herself for the lifestyle she’s chosen.

“Basically, I just tell them that this was my decision and this is what I’ve always loved to do,” explains LeAnn. “So if I did miss out on my childhood, it was my decision to do so.

“I love to go and be a normal person every once and a while and hang out with all my friends,” continues LeAnn. “All my friends have always been older than me. I’ve never really had that many friends my age, just because I’ve grown up in a business world all my life. And I’ve just never had the desire to play with toys. When I was very little, I did that, but now, I’m really focused on my career.”

If LeAnn is only focusing now, imagine the results when her career is under total control. In just one short year, the singer has ridden a whirlwind of success, including her Curb debut album, Blue, now being certified quadruple platinum, launching a jam-packed tour schedule and racking up on awards and nominations like there’s no tomorrow.

Having just received three new ACM awards for Top New Female Vocalist, as well as both the Single and Song of the Year for “Blue,” she’s already garnered several other honors in a matter of months. She snagged the Best New Country Artist honors at this year’s American Music Awards, and took home two surprising Grammys for both Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. The thought of winning the Grammy’s Best New Artist trophy still has yet to sink in.

“I was shocked!” LeAnn admits. “It was a major shock — being one of the only people to be nominated from country music. And I never thought that I would be the first one in country music they would let win. Like I said, it was very shocking and I think I’m still shocked and just can’t believe it.”

As equally thrilling for the blooming superstar has been the acceptance and compliments she’s received from fellow artists in the country arena. “Oh, it feels great,” she says. “All the country artists that I’ve met, especially the ones that I’ve really looked up to for a long time, have really been behind me 100-percent and really supportive. And everybody has been really nice. People like Wynonna, Reba and Vince, I’ll go up to them and say ’I love your music,’ and for them to say ’I love your music back,’ is such a big thrill and honor. It’s all been a bit overwhelming because I feel like I’ve packed about three years into 9 1/2 months. But it’s been a lot of fun.”

On the other side of the fun factor is, believe it or not, the business side of LeAnn. While gracing the stage and recording studio with her talented vocal charm, she’s also learned that along with the song and dance comes a dollar and a decision.

I’m very involved in the business part of my career,” she states, “and nothing really gets past me, I guess you could say. I think it’s very important, because one day I’ll have to be able to run all this by myself or with other people. I’ll have to be able to make business decisions for myself throughout the years. So I guess starting now as young as I am and growing with it, will help a lot.”

School is already helping out a lot, but it’s certainly not easy — especially when it means trying to cram in several subjects while on a tour bus en route to another concert. “I have a tutor and so far, it’s working out really well. I’m really trying to keep up with school right now, but it does get pretty hectic trying to fit it all in.”

But there’s probably not anything that wouldn’t fit into LeAnn’s brand new bedroom. Talk about a teenager’s heaven…

“We just bought a new house and they’re building my bedroom right now,” LeAnn says excitedly. “It’s above the garage and is 837 sq. feet. The closet is 13 by 13 feet and ten feet tall. When I first walked in and they had already got the frame-work done, I looked at it and I knew I was going to have a bedroom and a sitting room. I looked at it and the part that I thought was my sitting room was my closet,” she laughs. “I couldn’t believe that. It is huge, but I love it.”

What else does the music world’s teen queen love?

“I would love to do something outside of country music with maybe Celine Dion or Barbra Streisand,” says LeAnn. “That would be kind of cool. In singing with a male singer, I’d want to sing with Vince Gill or Bryan White.

In addition to duet dreams, selling more albums, releasing more hit singles and performing across more of the world, this dynamic “not-so-old” singer simply likes living her less-than-normal childhood quite normally, actually.

“Oh yeah, I love to roller-blade. And then there’s my worst habit–shopping.”