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Country Divas Discuss New Tours and Albums
LAS VEGAS -- Shania Twain and LeAnn Rimes discussed their upcoming tours. Martina McBride and Reba McEntire chatted about their upcoming albums.

New tours and new albums are a common topic for questions during backstage press conferences at major music awards shows. When the Academy of Country Music Awards took place Wednesday (May 21) in Las Vegas, four of country music's undisputed divas had plenty to say.

Twain said her world tour will kick off during the last week of September. Specific dates haven't been announced, although Twain previously scheduled shows on July 5 at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny, Ireland, and July 12 at Hyde Park in London. "It's going to be a very international tour," she said. "I plan on going all the way around the world this time, which is going to be great fun. Of course, I'll spend most of my touring in the U.S." Although Twain said her tour will feature an opening act, she added, "I just don't know who that's going to be right now."

Twain said she hasn't discovered any undue pressure recording and promoting her latest album, Up!, after taking time off to become a mother. "Having a child was just something that fell in naturally," she explained. "It's not like fame and stardom and all of that stuff happened all at once and then all of a sudden had a child. It's all happened very gradually over a very long period of time. I mean, I waited to have a child. I'm 37 years old and I think I'm at the point of maturity where it's all falling into a very natural place."

One reporter asked Twain to reveal the most outrageous rumor she's ever heard about herself. "That I have a no-sex marriage," she laughed. "That's not true."

Twain seemed somewhat testy when another reporter suggested that Up! wasn't selling well. "I think that's totally not true," she said. "I think it's selling great. It's doing fantastic. It's selling more than what my other two albums sold at the same stage. It's actually doing very, very well. I'm very happy with the whole thing. It's doing very well, actually." Twain became the first female artist to receive back-to-back Diamond Award designations from the RIAA for sales of more than 10 million copies. Twain's The Woman in Me has now sold more than 12 million copies. The follow-up, Come on Over, has sold more than 19 million.

Rimes, who's planning her own tour, moved to Nashville just three weeks ago. "Everybody says I'm moving back," she said. "I never lived there. I lived in Texas all my life and then moved to L.A. , which I love. The move to Nashville was for family reasons, wanting to move closer to my husband's family in Michigan and my family in Texas. My dad and my mom both now live in Nashville. It's just a quieter life."

Rimes is also planning a tour that will include shows in the U.S., Australia and Europe. Noting that she looks forward to returning to the road, Rimes said, "I go back to me being a kid. It's totally different. I did 500 shows in three and a half years from the time I was 13, so I was really sick of touring. Now I'm really excited to go back and do music that I love. I'm doing old stuff, I'm doing new stuff. There's an acoustic part of the show. It's just really all about the performance and my voice rather than the whole hoopla of production. And it's more fun that way.

"I have a story behind the songs. I'm very comfortable with my sexuality. I'm comfortable with my body, so I can move differently now. I'm a woman, so it makes a huge difference than seeing a kid perform. It's a major difference in the show, and I love it."

Asked whether her next recorded project will be a country album, Rimes responded, "It's going to be music. Period. It's going to be good music. I grew up in a household where there were no genres of music. I listened to Prince and Barbra Streisand and Patsy Cline, one song after the other. I never knew any genres of music, and that's how I conduct my music. I want to go out and make the best music possible."

McBride confirmed her new album is tentatively planned for release in September. "We're about three-quarters of the way done. We've been working really hard." The album's first single, "This One's for the Girls," will be sent to radio stations on June 15. It was written by Hillary Lindsey, Chris Lindsey and Aimee Mayo.

"The song is amazing," McBride said. "It's one of those rare things: an up-tempo song with a real meaty lyric. It basically addresses every state of girlhood and womanhood. It's sort of an empowering little number. Hard to believe, coming from me, I know. It's really inspiring to me and it's fun."

Winning her second consecutive ACM female vocalist award, McBride said she's happy she's not a new artist. "It's really crazy out there right now," she said. "The competition is really tough. It seems like, just my perspective, that our attention span as human beings has gotten really short. It's hard to hit [as an artist], it's harder to get there and it's harder to keep it. I don't know what that says about us as a human race, but I'm glad I'm not just starting out. I will say that. It's really tough."

Having spent the past two years concentrating on Reba, her TV sitcom, McEntire will spend part of the summer recording an album with producers Buddy Cannon and Norro Wilson. When asked what fans should know about the project, she said, "That Reba is still with them. The Reba that they grew up with and fell in love with years ago, that's the kind of songs I'm recording again. It never has changed. It's always been the kind of songs that I fall in love with and that touch my heart. Those are the 10 or 11 songs that will be on my next CD."
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