LeAnn Rimes may be best known for such hits as “How Do I Live,” “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” and, of course, “Blue.” The latter lead to Rimes becoming the youngest Grammy winner at the age of 14, when she took home trophies at the 1997 awards for best new artist and best female country vocal performance.
But lately, Rimes, 38, has changed focus both musically and mentally with Chant: The Human & The Holy, a 12-track chant album of mantras and message of hope that comes out Friday (Nov. 20) via Everle Records/Thirty Tigers.
The shift in her spirituality began several years ago after Rimes entered a facility for treatment for depression and anxiety. Among the tools she learned during that time were breath work and meditation, which started her practice.
Rimes will continue to make pop music, but in our 20 Questions interview below, she revealed to Billboard her journey to the new direction, as well as her favorite memory from one of her concerts, and how Coyote Ugly changed her life.
1. Obviously this is a shift from what your fans expect from you, but it sounds like you have been building up to Chant: The Human & The Holy for a long time. Why was now the right time to put this album out?
This Chant album came up for me in the middle of making my next album. While meditating, melodies and words would rise up for me, and I would hit record on my phone and go back to meditating thinking they were something for my album. I recognized later that the pieces of songs were actually self-contained chants, and I felt responsible that they should see the light of day.
2. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and everyone is looking for some comfort. How much did that have to do with the timing of the release?
I needed it for myself to help use my own voice to bring some healing to my heart. I hope the message and purpose of the record is a timeless one. I’ve actually started writing more for the next chant album.
3. What do you hope your fans get out of it?
I hope it would bring some comfort to anyone being in these challenging times, and that it reminds them of who they truly are, and helps lead them to find their own voice. That is what it is helping me with as well.
4. The video for “Sing Love Into the World” premieres below. How did that track come about?
The song came about in a similar same way, in the middle of meditation. When we started creating the record, I knew I wanted to sing with percussion only. We reached out to my longtime friend Taku Hirano, and he ended up playing on all the up-tempos for the record.
5. The song speaks to intention. What have you learned about intention that you now put into practice?
The song is calling on me to put my love into action, and then it is asking the listener to do the same with their heart. There is a great need to birth more love into our world and our actions. Music is a powerful way to express it.
6. Your time in a treatment facility when you were 30 led you on this path to wellness. What are the steps that you put into daily practice since you started this journey?
Meditation and breath work are a few of the tools I use most often in my “toolkit.” It’s ever growing as I grow.
7. The release of the album coincides with your iHeartRadio podcast, Wholly Human, on wellness. How often will the podcast run and what topics will you address?
The first season will run every Monday starting Nov. 30. It’s been an incredibly vulnerable experience for me to do the Wholly Human podcast and open up about my wellness journey. I’ve also been able to invite my closest teachers and healers to be guests on the podcast, which makes each of the episodes truly unique.
8. You’ve said that many of your issues came from pressures put on you from starting your career at such an early age. What’s your advice for teenage artists to keep them from going through the same troubles you did?
You can’t really avoid troubles. They are part of living life. Both the shadows and the light of my journey are equally important to bringing me to who I am today. You can remember to trust your instincts, and not selfishly use those instincts to cause you or anyone else any damage. Remember we are all a part of this world.
9. What is next for you musically in addition to another chant album?
We have been recording the next non-chant album over the last year. I’m a little over halfway through it. I feel it carries the same positive messaging in the songs as the Chant album does, but in a grander way. Since making my Spitfire and Remnants albums, I do feel I’m in an amazing space, and feel the songwriting we’ve been doing is some of my best writing I have ever done. I’ve also been experimenting with using different shades of my voice as well, so I am excited to see how the world receives it. It won’t be too long, I promise you!
10. How do you use social media differently now to communicate with your fans than you did a decade ago?
For me, now it’s about sharing to be at service for others, and less about self-inflation. And I believe it’s like any relationship — you have to stay true to yourself always.
11. You recently posted photos and a beautiful essay in Glamour during a Psoriasis flareup brought on by stress from the pandemic. What has the feedback been like?
I wasn’t sure what the feedback was going to be with the photos. I just knew that I needed to share the Psoriasis flareup hoping it would help others to feel less alone in the world with whatever they had going on. Glamour was a great partner in helping us bring awareness to World Psoriasis Day. It was extremely freeing for my soul to reveal that part of my humanity I have carried since I was 2 years old.
12. In October, a 20th anniversary MegaMix of songs from Coyote Ugly came out. How did that movie, and specifically, “Can’t Fight The Moonlight,” impact your career?
It has turned into this cult film for women, which at the time I don’t think anyone would have thought would have happened. I knew when I heard Diane Warren’s songs for the movie that I wanted to be involved. Trevor Horn’s production also gave all three of us some of the biggest hits. I feel very blessed to have been a part of it.
13. For many fans, the Coyote Ugly soundtrack was possibly the first album they owned. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
Whitney Houston — and it must have been a CD.
14. What was the first concert you saw?
Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire… amazing singers and performers.
15. What’s the last song you listened to?
“Long Lonely Road” by Valerie June.
16. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your sets?
I helped a couple with a proposal at one of my shows in the U.K. and it was magical! We set a key light on a guy’s seat, and his partner told him he was going to the bathroom. Instead, we took him backstage and shined a light on his boyfriend’s seat. He then proposed onstage and I serenaded them while they danced.
17. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
There are a couple of movies that always do it for me. One is Love Actually, and the other is Practical Magic. For songs, it would be “He Stopped Loving Her Today” from George Jones, and Yoko and John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over).”
18. What TV series have you watched all the way through multiple times?
There are quite a few … Let’s start with Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy and, of course, I Love Lucy!
19. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?
Whatever is the least healthy thing ordered at the table is fair game for my fork.
20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
The most important advice I would tell that little girl would be to trust. To keep trusting her intuition. To keep trusting that clear voice inside her heart that started her journey. Every time I leaned back to listen to that voice, it always led me down the most magical road of learning.