Magazine Feature

LeAnn Rimes on Letting Go: 'Once It Wasn't About My Ego Anymore, I Became Human'

LeAnn Rimes
Sara Hertel

“The biggest thing that got me here was finding humility,” says Rimes.

At an afternoon rehearsal for her upcoming tour, country-pop star LeAnn Rimes kicks off her Gucci Princetown fur mules to dance barefoot inside an intimate Los Angeles studio.

The devil-may-care gesture fits Remnants (Feb. 3), Rimes’ 11th studio album her first release since severing an almost two-decade relationship with Curb Records in 2016. (Sony Music U.K. is distributing the release.)

The title also alludes to the 34-year-old singer’s status as a reluctant tabloid fixture since her 2011 marriage to actor Eddie Cibrian (and divorce from first husband Dean Sheremet). “People say, ‘Oh, she’s falling into pieces. She’s having a nervous breakdown,’ ” says Rimes, who has sold 20.8 million albums, according to Nielsen Music. “But no one talks about the beauty of falling apart.”

What remnants of your life do you hold onto? What have you let go?
Well, my ego. That is something I’ve gratefully let go of. I started in the industry so young. I look back and I don’t even know how I am alive at this moment. That is probably the biggest feat in my life: surviving. I was a child star and I still get to make music as an adult. It feels like my best years aren’t behind me. The biggest thing that got me here was finding humility — I cry talking about this shit. (She tears up.) It’s really deep. Once it wasn’t about my ego anymore, I became human. To be able to create from that place is incredible.

Rimes with Coolio at The Hollywood Reporter’s Young Star Awards in 1998.

On the cover, you’re standing in front of a mirror. What inspired that image?
When you sit in front of a mirror, there’s no hiding. It’s interesting: I can’t stand to get dressed before a show, to look in the mirror and do my makeup. My mom had me all dolled up from when I was really young. So I’ve always been uncomfortable with it, with the insecurities that pop up. Especially when you’re getting ready to be so vulnerable [onstage], it’s like, “Oh, God. I want to hide.” But as I get older, I’m more like, “OK, I’m cool looking in a mirror.” Being in the public eye and social media if you don’t know yourself, you’ll be dragged into a very dark place.

There’s a song called “Mother” on Remnants. Do you see yourself having children?
I would love to have kids. I’m taking it day by day — I’m still young. The song is about how your parents are supposed to be superheroes, but of course they aren’t. There’s baggage they bring from their parents, and their parents’ parents. When my mom ran away at 18 to marry my dad, her mom burned all her clothes. I’ve always been fearful of having children, because I didn’t want to pass that pain down. I wanted to heal myself before bringing a child into the world. I’m not even close to doing it, really, but I think that’s where the pain stops.

Courtesy Photo
The 'Remnants' album cover

You speak about LGBTQ rights on songs like “Love Is Love Is Love” why is that cause important to you?
Equality is a big thing for me, partially because I’ve been so picked apart and judged my whole life. I’m very aware of judgment. My uncle, who was gay, died of AIDS when I was 11, and my dad was the only one that showed up at his funeral that stuck with me. For anyone to put a boundary on love is insane to me. Why do people care so much about what someone else is doing? We’re talking about human rights. It’s 2017 and we’re really talking about this? It’s ridiculous. 

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of Billboard.