[Photo by Steven Sebring]

LeAnn Rimes comes into her own

LeAnn Rimes was born a singer.

In 1996, at age 13, her hit "Blue" — which she sang a la Patsy Cline — crushed the No. 1 spot on Billboard's country albums chart for more than three months.

Rimes started performing at age 5 in local talent shows in her home state of Texas. Her talent charmed Ed McMahon on his network show "Star Search." By 9, she was an experienced singer, touring nationally with her father, Wilbur Rimes, and regularly performing the national anthem at Dallas Cowboys football games. At 11, she was recording and, with her father, independently released three albums between 1991 and 1996.

It was Dallas disc jockey Bill Mack who brought Rimes to the mainstream, with his song "Blue." Rimes recorded it on her 1994 "All That."

Now an internationally acclaimed singer and award-winning songwriter with 16 albums to her credit — and winner of two Grammy Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards and dozens more accolades —  Rimes' newest album, "Remnants," dropped in early 2017 and debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Independent Album Chart. Its single, "Long Live Love," peaked at No. 1 on the magazine's Dance Chart.

Though Rimes' arced as a country standout with "Blue," she's kept a hand in pop and country-pop genres since the 1997 hit "How Do I Live" from her studio album "You Light Up My Life." It peaked at No. 2 for five nonconsecutive weeks, behind Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," and charted on Billboard's Hot 100 for 69 weeks.

"When I started singing, I was so young," Rimes says. "Then 'Blue' came out and threw me into a world I wasn’t prepared for at such a young age. Through my life, having gone through pretty much everything in the public eye, I’ve had to truly find who I am and not who I should be according to anyone else."

She's seen lawsuits against her father and her former manager and a divorce during her success as a singer.

"I have found healing in the process of being broken and putting myself back together," she says. "It's truly beautiful, and I don’t think many people talk about it enough. That is what 'Remnants' is about. There is a lyric in the title track, 'I will build a kingdom from my remnants,' and that is what I am doing. I have found myself in meditation, my family, self-care — and it all comes out in my music."

Rimes' LovE Is LovE Is LovE tour, stylized after her first name, is an acoustic tour and a spin-off of "Remnants." The tour makes a stop Wednesday, Jan. 17, at the Craterian Theater in Medford. See craterian.org for tickets and information.

"It's a song off of 'Remnants,' " she says. "So this tour features a lot of music from that album, and then, of course, some of the fan favorites from earlier parts of my career.

"My musical director (and guitarist) Greg Hagen has been playing with me for years. He and I would play acoustic arrangements in the middle of my full band shows. That vulnerable magic would happen between us and the audience as if we were in my living room sharing songs with each other. We are not relying on communicating with any other band members during the show, but just communicating with other open hearts in the audience with his instrument, my voice and some very special songs. I love the openness of it all," she says.

"I always love the sound of acoustic," Rimes says. "It creates a more intimate environment for me and the audience."

"LovE Is LovE Is LovE" is a funky dance-floor filler penned by Rimes with Grammy-winning songwriter Darrell Brown, Lindy Robbins and Toby Gad, writes Stephen L. Betts in Rolling Stone Country. The song borrows its title from a line written by Tony-winning actor Lin-Manuel Miranda in a tribute to the 2016 shooting at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that left 50 victims dead. The song is a plea for tolerance and understanding, with Rimes suggesting to "hate the hate but love the hater, they'll come around sooner or later."

"These last few albums, I've found a new connection with music as a songwriter," Rimes told Rolling Stone Country. "I'm much more vulnerable and able to connect with the humanity of myself and everyone else … as an artist, as a woman, as a songwriter. There's so much growth that's happening."

Noting her sizable gay fan base, Rimes reveals that her next musical venture could be one tailor-made for dance clubs, where even a number of her country hits have found new life.

"I had a dance record a couple of years ago with all my dance mixes on it," Rimes says. "I've always actually wanted to create a record from the ground up as a dance record. So, I think we're going to embark on that. I just had my, I think, second or third No. 1 on the dance chart, so it's definitely a playground I'd like to explore and play in and see what happens."

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