Leann Rimes saves her story for her songs

CorrespondentMay 23, 2013 

Grammy Foundations 15th Annual Music Preservation Project

Singer Leann Rimes performs at the Grammy Foundation's 15th Annual Music Preservation Project, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in Los Angeles.

VINCE BUCCI — Vince Bucci/Invision/AP

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    Who: Leann Rimes

    When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

    Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Meymandi Concert Hall, 2 E. South St., Raleigh

    Cost: $38-$90

    Details: www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com

Don’t expect LeAnn Rimes to say much about her ongoing feud with reality TV star Brandi Glanville when she takes the stage Thursday at Meymandi Concert Hall. Backed by the N.C. Symphony, Rimes will, likely as not, let her music tell her side of the story.

Rimes and the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star have been fodder for the tabloid press since 2009, when Rimes had an affair with Glanville’s husband, Eddie Cibrian. At the time, Rimes was married to professional dancer Dean Sheremet. The affair destroyed both marriages.

Rimes and Cibrian married in 2011. But once the tabloids grabbed hold, they wouldn’t let go. Tired of battling what she calls “made-up stories,” Rimes decided to present her side with her forthcoming CD, “Spitfire,” due in stores June 4. The album features “What Have I Done” and “Borrowed,” autobiographical songs providing a glimpse of Rimes’ personal and public struggles over the past four years.

“I didn’t realize I was that interesting,” Rimes, 30, says of the tabloids’ ongoing obsession with her life. “They sure do know how to make up stories.

“On this record, this is the truth. These are my feelings. It captures the emotional roller-coaster ride I’ve been on for the past four years. It’s a different story than what’s been painted. My life is very different from what people have been led to believe.”

Beginning with the spunky “I am a survivor” declaration of the title track, the songs on “Spitfire” are personal, intimate revelations. While the introspective “What Have I Done” was written before the affair and about someone else, she feels that on a deeper level she wrote the song about herself. There’s no question about the subject of the guilt-ridden “Borrowed,” a song she co-wrote with long-time collaborator Darrell Brown and Dan Wilson.

“I carried the title around with me and the line ‘I know you’re not mine, only borrowed,’ for about eight months,” she says. “One day I decided I wanted to write it. I wrote it with Darrell Brown and Dan Wilson, who wrote one of my favorite Adele songs, ‘Someone Like You.’

“Everything in that song came from conversations and things I was carrying around with me through a lot of tears. I would say things I’d want to retract, but they would say, ‘We have to put that in the song.’

“Once I realized the impact for me as a writer to be open and honest, it swung open a door for nothing to be off-limits. I don’t think I can approach music any other way from now on. I feel that honesty is where the listener can relate so deeply to what I’m talking about.”

Rimes’ current struggles are the latest in a string of issues that have followed the singer through most of her career. She was only 13 in 1996, when she was thrust into public view as her debut album, “Blue,” hit the top of the country albums chart. The title track, originally written for Patsy Cline, earned a Grammy award for Best Country Song and Rimes earned a Grammy for Best New Artist.

Fame, fortune and family troubles followed. Rimes sued her father who, in turn, sued her. She’s been involved in car accidents and sought therapy to help deal with the stress of being famous.

‘Journalism is a lost art’

These days, being a celebrity is more difficult with the emergence of instant-access social media. Still, the tabloids remain Rimes’ most nettlesome antagonists.

“It’s gotten easier for people to have that instant access and hide behind a computer and bash people they don’t know,” she says. “It’s not just social media but the tabloids. People have become so obsessed with other people’s stories. It’s much more an obsession now than when I started out. To me, that is the issue. Journalism is a lost art. Fact-checking doesn’t even happen anymore.

“We have people who will call and say I’m pregnant. And they have all these pictures of me “going to my doctor.” I look at the pictures and I’m outside a shopping center in L.A. They take a photo and say I’m pregnant. Sometimes you can get the story pulled and other times they say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to run with it.’

“I have a tough skin. I have my days when it affects me. Mostly, I’ve learned how to let it roll off my back. I know the truth. Things become a lot easier to deal with when you know the truth. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard to see lies written about you constantly. It is. But I have a tougher skin than most.”

Voicing her convictions

Rimes says the concert with the N.C. Symphony will combine songs from “Spitfire” and earlier recordings. Regardless of how she constructs her set list, the audience will be treated to one of the most mature, self-assured voices in popular music. Rimes doesn’t just sing her songs. She lives in them, sharing her regrets and voicing her convictions with transparency and range seldom heard in today’s popular music.

“Spitfire” is already drawing raves, a positive turn in a career often marked by unflattering press.

“This has been the best-received album I’ve ever made, as far as the critics and others who have listened to it,” she says. “I find that people are relating to it, and that’s what I set out to do – to make people feel real emotions and understand me, but also take them on a ride where, hopefully, they find themselves and understand themselves a little better after these songs.”

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