Concert Spotlight: Interview with LeAnn Rimes

Iconic Singer Spreads Love All Over NYC

Record breaker. Vocal powerhouse. Entertainment force. LeAnn Rimes has moved and grooved with fans for over 20 years, since debut album Blue, becoming the youngest country star at 13 years old. There might not even be a Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert without LeAnn’s breakthrough.

Having sold more than 37 million albums worldwide, the country-turned-pop singer can truly sing anything, evidenced by her dance-pop anthem “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” from the film “Coyote Ugly” to country signatures like “How Do I Live” to new material on her new soul-leaning album Remnants. Rimes has stated that her recent project really circles back to love: for herself, her family, her fans, and for the world.

She celebrates her swagger-filled sound June 25 at New York City’s PrideFest as the headliner of the 24th annual event, with additional acts throughout the day (Hudson Street between Abingdon Square & W. 14th Street). LeAnn spoke with New York City Monthly about why she loves New York, and her first trip to the city, which was actually for a Broadway opportunity — something she hints at pursuing in the future…

You have been performing more than half your life and coming to New York since you were a teenager. What did New York mean to you when you were younger, and what’s it like for you being an adult?

My rst New York experience I was six years old, and I auditioned for a Broadway play: Annie. That was my introduction to New York. That was the perfect one. I ew up there– my godmother, my mother, and myself–and they picked the top girls already so it was a shot in the dark. I made it to the top 11, and they brought me in the next day because they really wanted me to do the show, but we decided with my mom that I was just way too young. That was quite the experience to be introduced to New York.

I’ve always loved New York; there’s an energy there that’s always captivating, and I’ve always enjoyed it and been fed by it in a different way. I love the food, the energy of it all – I’m sure I’ll be there eventually doing Broadway.

When you’re in New York, beyond the rehearsing and hair and make-up and interviews, what do you enjoy when you have some alone time by yourself, with family, or friends, and what draws you back to this great city?

I love exploring the city, especially when it’s warm outside, not so much when it’s cold. In L.A. we don’t get to walk and explore much. My husband and I both, when we have a day off there, we just like to go roam. Who knows where you’re going to eat, what park bench you’re going to sit on and just stare at the world for 20 minutes. I love kind of wandering around.

Fans know your award-winning material from your country and pop days. Your new album Remnants takes listeners on a journey through love in a more soulful way. How did you decide on a slightly different course for this album?

It’s just what naturally happens. I was at the same label for 20 years, since the age of 11. There were contractual expectations. So this time around I promised myself to have the freedom of allowing the authenticity to rise. There’s very much a soulful side of me that I’ve never been able to completely capture on an album, so I wanted my Mississippi roots of soul and gospel to be brought out.

Creating this album was a different experience for me. I really trusted the universe and everybody I was working with to come to fruition and let it be what it was supposed to be. It was a beautiful experience and to have these powerful messages; some of them I have experienced and some of them I have experienced pieces of them, but I feel like I wrote a record that I could step into.

400,000 people travel to and gather in New York City for PrideFest each year to celebrate equality. You have been tapped as the headliner of the 24th year, and you have long been a supporter of equal rights. How important was it for you to be a part of the celebration this year?

It’s always exciting. I love doing Prides. It’s always such a good time. There’s so much joy and freedom and acceptance, and it’s always good to be performing and everyone seems to appreciate the music. I’ve always been a huge supporter of equality, and this climate we’re in – it’s even more important to speak on it and do it with love. I really look forward to feeding off of that energy.

Photo Credit: Steven Sebring