(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
Before I even heard LeAnn Rimes' new album , Lady and Gentlemen, I knew I'd love it because I had heard her do so many of the songs live. Like Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night," Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson's "Good Hearted Woman," and Merle Haggard's "The Bottle Let Me Down." But that's just me. And I usually tend to love new country covers more than the originals (sorry, original artists). But I always want to know what those original artists think of their classic tunes being reinvented. And here is what I learned: They pretty much love what Rimes has done. Merle Haggard told her team, "After hearing LeAnn Rimes singing 'I Can't Be Myself' and 'The Bottle Let Me Down,' it just knocked me down. She sung the heck out of them. The thought and creativity put into the arrangements just blew me away." And Kris Kristofferson said, "I've always loved the way LeAnn sings, and she beautifully makes 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' her own." Even George Jones had very kind things to say. "When I heard LeAnn Rimes' version of 'He Stopped Loving Her Today,' the first thing out of my mouth was, 'Damn, that girl can sing!' I have always loved LeAnn's voice, but she really nailed it, along with all the other songs she has recorded for this album. When I am asked what young artists I love to listen to, LeAnn is always included in that list. She's keeping it country, which is what I love," Jones said. Wow. That's some fine praise from some of the finest singers around.