Rimes Closes the Door to Childhood

Releases Greatest Hits Album

MWL Special: LeAnn Rimes Live airs Tuesday (Nov. 18) at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

As a fresh-faced 13-year-old, LeAnn Rimes made a splashy entrance into country music with “Blue” in 1996 — and winning nearly every award possible. Within a few years, she dominated the pop airwaves with “How Do I Live” and “Can’t Fight the Moonlight.” But at 21, Rimes is not a child star anymore. Here, she tells CMT.com about leaving her childhood behind, moving to Nashville and the television show she would refuse to do.

CMT: Congratulations on the greatest hits album. Why did now seem like the right time to put that out?

LeAnn: I think after being in this business for almost nine years, it seems a little weird for some people to say, “Oh, she’s 21 and has a greatest hits album.” But for me, it seems normal. I have been talking about this with the record company for the past three years. I think it was just waiting for the right time. I think 21 was the right time to look back on everything that I have accomplished and also shut the door to this whole childhood thing and move forward to new things and good things. There is much more to come after. People think that a greatest hits album is like the end of a career, but it seems like almost the beginning of mine.

What can listeners expect from your next album?

I think “This Love” from Greatest Hits is an indication of what is to come. As I get older, I am realizing what I really want out of my music. People won’t let me forget that I was 13 in this business, but they do forget that with 13 comes the freedom to change your mind and do different things. As I get older, I just want to sing. I love great music. I have been influenced by so many different things that it is only natural to draw on different influences and put that in my own style. I think the next album is going to be really organic. These days, people love to hide behind big production and I don’t want to, and I really don’t need to. I just want to put my voice out there and have people hear my voice again.

It’s difficult to start a career at a young age and to be able to stick with it. People who knew you as a 13-year-old probably still view you as a 13-year-old, right?

It’s true. You can never really get out of it. For me, it’s been hard because people would love to keep me 13, but people have to realize that you do grow up, you do change and you eventually have a mind of your own. I haven’t stripped off my clothes completely and I haven’t done all that stuff. I am just enjoying being a 21-year-old woman and having fun with it. I think it is a lot easier of a transition for people than if I would have just turned into this hellion child (laughs) and just started stripping down! (laughs)

So, no kissing Madonna on the awards shows?

(laughs) Yeah, right? Maybe me and Shania. Who knows? Just kidding.

I was happy to hear that you’ve moved back to Nashville. Was there any particular reason that made you want to move back?

I do love it there. I haven’t spent much time there obviously because I have been on the road. I lived in L.A. for five years, and I love it in L.A., but my dad lived in Nashville for six years, and it was more of a family thing. I wanted to be close to my family and live a quieter life.

Congratulations on your marriage. What do you and Dean do on your nights off?

Go out to dinner. My husband cooks. We like to stay at home a lot and just enjoy our house. If we go out anywhere, we just hang around town. It is pretty normal there. I like that. I like being able to just go to a movie or whatever.

Any interest in a Newlyweds show like Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson?

Never! Ever! Ever! I think it is really strange. I think it is something that would instantly tear apart a marriage, to have a camera on your shoulder every five minutes. My life has been in the public eye for so long that to put my marriage there would be another step in the wrong direction. I would never do that!

Is there a type of show that you would be interested in doing?

I would love to do a sitcom. That has been thrown my way a couple times. We are talking about it. I think Reba has done so well with hers. Something along the lines of that. Something to take me out of playing myself, or that reality TV thing, would be great.

How are things with your mom and dad these days?

Great. Everything is really good. Like I said, I moved back home to be around family even more. I wanted to get back to that and have family be family, instead of being all involved in my business. We all have a wonderful relationship now. Family means a lot to both my husband and me. We all have great relationships with each other.

Any big plans for 2004?

Obviously the next studio album will be out probably this spring, and the summer we will be touring, so I will be really busy this next year.

Are you touring now?

I just got finished doing New Zealand and Australia. I know next year we are going to be touring the States, up into Canada and who knows where else we will be going.

You managed to have two very big hits in your career already, “Blue” and “How Do I Live.” When you’re on the road, what are some of the other songs in your set that always draw a big response?

“One Way Ticket,” “Commitment,” “I Need You,” “Can’t Fight the Moonlight.” “Unchained Melody” definitely. Anything off the inspirational album. There is a song called “On the Side of Angels.” All the stuff from the Legally Blonde soundtrack. “This Love,” which is the new single. We are just now starting to play that, and they are loving it. I have been very blessed to have a lot of hits.