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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 19, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 29
Rhythm and Rimes: Country megastar is no stranger to Seattle - or to Gay culture
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Rhythm and Rimes: Country megastar is no stranger to Seattle - or to Gay culture

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

LEANN RIMES
WOODLAND PARK ZOO
July 26


LeAnn Rimes didn't just emerge on the music scene in 1996, she exploded onto it. Her debut album, Blue, bouyed by its megahit title track, sold 123,000 copies in its first week of release. She closed out the year with one of the top-selling albums on both the country and pop charts, and then won two Grammys, including Best New Artist. This all happened by the age of 14. Fast-forward to 2013: Rimes is 30 and her career now includes a trophy case of awards, sold-out tours that extend to Europe, Australia, and Asia (she'll perform in Taiwan soon), and an acting career with roles in TV movies and sitcoms (including last week's episode of Anger Management). The country star arrives at Woodland Park Zoo on July 26 for a one-night performance that will feature songs from various albums, such as the brand new Spitfire (visit www.zoo.org for ticket info). A strong LGBT supporter, she performed with the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles in 2010 to memorialize Gay teens who committed suicide as a result of bullying. I reached the musician-actress by phone at her L.A. residence, and she was such a delight to speak with - incredibly kind and conversive. Here's what LeAnn Rimes and I talked about inside 'The Music Lounge.'

Albert Rodriguez: You grew up in Mississippi. When were you first exposed to Gay culture?

LeAnn Rimes: I grew up in Mississippi until I was six, really, and then moved to Dallas. So I don't remember a ton about growing up there. I really grew up in Texas.

Rodriguez: In Dallas, do you remember being exposed to Gay culture?

Rimes: Gosh, I don't remember when I wasn't. My uncle - my dad's brother - was Gay, so since I was a child I was exposed to being around him. He passed away when I was 11. In Mississippi, it was obviously a little bit hush-hush back in the day.

Rodriguez: Were you aware early on that you had a Gay following?

Rimes: Oh yeah, huge! A lot of my friends are Gay. I've always been aware of the following I've had. They've always been a big part of my personal life - it's never something that I haven't been aware of.

Rodriguez: Where do you keep your Grammys?

Rimes: They're in our living room with the piano. I used to keep them in a closet [laughs]. I appreciated them, but I didn't want to boast about it. I just thought it was very obnoxious to leave them out, but then I got yelled out by all my friends because they had to go in the closet to see my Grammys.

Rodriguez: For your older songs, like 'Blue,' do you feel the need to change the orchestrations or arrangements, or do you play them pretty close to the original versions?

Rimes: We change up a lot of things just because it keeps it interesting for us, and for the people that have come to our shows it gives them something different to hear. So, it's something I like to do to keep it interesting for everybody. It's still the same songs, but you do hear a little bit different arrangements. It changes every tour.

Rodriguez: Do you like country music today? Do you like what you're hearing from other artists and from radio?

Rimes: Honestly? Not really. I say that because I'm a huge fan of old country music. I love the honesty of it, the foundation of it, when songs were actually based on something, and a million different instruments trying to fill up every hole. There was just a feeling you got when you listened to it that I feel is missing from a lot of music you hear these days. There are songs that pop out here and there that I like, but it takes a lot for me to listen to that style of music.

Rodriguez: Do you listen to other kinds of music?

Rimes: I listen to everything. I listen to dance music, hip-hop - as long as it moves me, I listen to it.

Rodriguez: How many pairs of shoes do you pack for a tour?

Rimes: [laughs] I definitely pack a whole suitcase at home full of shoes, which, if you saw my shoe closet, it's just overwhelming. And I'm from Mississippi, so I like to go barefoot. For someone who has as many shoes as I do, they usually come off about halfway through the show because we get pretty comfortable on stage.

Rodriguez: Where do you do most of your shopping?

Rimes: I do a lot of online shopping. I used to love to go shopping, but now I'm one of those people that is all about online. I don't like to deal with stuff by going outside [laughs]. I love Barney's. Barney's has great shoes.

Rodriguez: Have you been invited to any Gay weddings yet?

Rimes: I have a lot of friends who are telling me that now that they are allowed to get married, when they do I'm supposed to sing. I'll be 'The Wedding Singer' soon enough. There's a couple of them who have partners and a couple who don't, so as soon as they all partner up with someone I'll be 'The Wedding Singer' for a little while.

Rodriguez: Tell me about the band that will be playing with you in Seattle.

Rimes: My band's fantastic - most of them have been with me seven, eight, or nine years. They're great musicians and they all play different instruments. They're usually [also] the warm-up band, so they're on stage for a while.

Rodriguez: You mentioned coming into Seattle earlier. Will you get a chance to explore the city before you play?

Rimes: I know my band's going to the Mariners game the night before, so I actuallly might be joining them. My stepsons and my husband will be coming with me. I love, love, love this restaurant called Tilth. It's fantastic, a tiny little restaurant with the most amazing food. Yeah, I have to come in early to eat there.

Rodriguez: You brought up your husband, and I'm sure you know that a lot of Gay men are jealous because you have a hot hubby.

Rimes: Yes, I know [laughs]. We always joke with Eddie [Cibrian] about that. We went to Capitol Hill, and I always say they want to look at him and hear me sing. We're like the ultimate Gay couple!

Rodriguez: You got started so early in the business. If you could go back and do it all over again, would you have waited until you were older to launch your career?

Rimes: Well, I can't go back and do it all over again. I think there was a lot of negativity regarding the fact that I was so young, but I also have 20 years of experience that I wouldn't trade for the world. There are pros and cons, but I don't regret it at all.

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