January 31. 2018 1:15PM

LeAnn Rimes

Country-pop singer takes message of universal love on the road

By EMILY REILY
Special to the Union Leader


LeAnn Rimes will perform at 8 p.m. today at the Tupelo Music Hall in Derry as part of her “Love is Love” acoustic tour. (Photo by Steven Sebring)

If you go..

WHO: LeAnn Rimes' 'Love is Love' acoustic tour

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry

TICKETS: $45 to $65

INFO: tupelomusichall.com; 437-5100


Country singer-songwriter LeAnn Rimes found mainstream success earlier than most, when others her age were getting braces and fretting over whom to eat lunch with in the cafeteria.

“It changed everything. My mother essentially lost me to the industry when I was 13,” said Rimes, now 35 with 11 studio albums and nearly 40 singles under her belt.

The Garland, Texas, native first hit it big at 13 with her 1996 debut single, the sorrow-flecked and wistful ballad “Blue.” Rimes’ loping, unhurried cadence immediately brings to mind country legend Patsy Cline’s crystalline vocals.

“Blue” skyrocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and reached multi-platinum status. The last country music star to reach that height so early was Tanya Tucker in 1972.

Other hits by Rimes include the infectious pop-dance crossover “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” (from the 2000 movie “Coyote Ugly”) and “How Do I Live,” a wedding reception favorite and easily one of her most recognizable tunes.

Rimes said the bright, upbeat song “Love Is Love Is Love” from last year’s album, “Remnants,” is about “acceptance,” particularly when it comes to same-sex relationships.

“I hope it resonates with my LGBTQ fans. I have never understood why (people) are not treated the same in society, why we are not treated equally. We are all humans. Love is non-judgmental,” Rimes said in a press release.

Rimes spoke with NHWeekend through email about her early days, her love of Judy Garland and why she decided to bring awareness to her struggle with the skin disease psoriasis.

Were you surprised to reach such tremendous success from hits like “How Do I Live” and “Blue”?

Of course, it was a bit overwhelming for a 13-year-old! It is crazy to see how those songs still make an impact today, 20 years later.

How much did that early success affect you? Were there things you missed out on as a teen?

I was on tour performing around the clock, and while it was amazing and I got to experience so much, I also did miss out on things that most teenagers get to experience — like school dances, birthday parties, school trips, etc. But it was because of that success that launched my career, and so I am thankful for all of it. But it wasn’t easy being so young and being shot into (the) spotlight so quickly.

How have you been able to reconcile that sense of loss now?

My stepsons: Jake is 10 and Mason is 14. And when I think back to when I was their age, I was either in the studio or on tour. So seeing those “teen experiences” that they are going through now is neat because I get the opportunity to witness it, but also not having to live it. Things worked out as it should have.

Does it bother you that people sometimes compare you to Patsy Cline?

I loved Patsy Cline, and I still do. It doesn’t bother me at all. It is flattering! For someone to compare you to your role model or someone who you looked up to as an artist, it’s humbling and an honor.

How was Judy Garland an inspiration for you?

Listening to Judy bare her soul and feelings; she is a musical empath, sharing all the joy and heartbreak in ways that we as listeners didn’t know how to express. Her voice and passion are a healing to the heart. She set a high bar for all singers to try to meet.

Do you think if you had gotten that leading part of “Annie” on Broadway when you were younger, you might not have continued your singing career?

It is hard to say. All I know is my mom told me before I auditioned, “If this Broadway thing doesn’t work out, we will try the country route, and maybe you can revisit this later in life.” It’s crazy, because little did we know the “country thing” did work out and now I make music for all genres. Who knows, maybe there will be some Broadway in the future.

Why did you decide to cross over into pop music and then return to country?

I honestly just make music I want to make. I hate labels (laughs). When I started out, I had a country music label, so I had to make a certain type of music. Then as I got older, we wanted to branch out and set ourselves apart. So when “Coyote Ugly” came out, that launched me into the pop world, and since then I’ve done soul and other genres, and will continue to venture out and make music that feels good!

You’ve released a couple Christmas albums. What do you like about that season, and how do you choose which songs to cover?

I love the holidays! It is a time when people from all walks of life can come together and often it is through or around music. My producers and I think of songs that influenced us in life, or create originals, or think of some that haven’t been done much before and put our own spin on it.

Why did you feel it was important to speak out about your experience with psoriasis?

I think it is important to share because it made me feel as though I had to keep a part of myself hidden, to have people not talk (to you) or touch you because they were scared you would infect them. It’s a horrible feeling. I know many can unfortunately relate to those emotions and feelings of not being accepted, whether it’s due to an illness, sexual orientation, beliefs, etc., and I think that needs to change.

When you worked on “Logan Lucky,” did you get to meet actors like Adam Driver or Daniel Craig? Were you already a fan?

Oh yeah, who doesn’t love those guys? When (director) Steven Soderbergh calls, you answer and you do it. It was the easiest acting job I have ever done, since I just had to be myself. We were done within a few takes and the movie was hilarious. It was a great project to be a part of.