Thursday, May 8, 2014 | 3:58 p.m.
You’ve got to hand it to award-winning country singer LeAnn Rimes because she doesn’t flinch, steer away from controversy and sweep the dirt under the carpet.
You have to admire her for that honesty; I certainly do. Truth be told, LeAnn faces it head on and even turns it into bona-fide music hits and big record sales.
Now the producers of “Duck Dynasty” will put her tabloid life with actor husband Eddie Cibrian under the microscope in a new VH1 reality TV series starting July 17. We’ll get a preview this weekend with her Saturday and Sunday performances at Orleans Showroom.
LeAnn says frankly that life at home is quite normal co-parenting Eddie’s two sons. But outside, it’s totally different because in the fishbowl, they are stalked by paparazzi, and the tabloids constantly stoke the flames of her feud with Eddie’s ex-wife, “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Brandi Glanville.
Now the happily married duo get the opportunity to tell their story and also “poke fun at what it’s like to be a high-profile couple with more than a little misinformation out there about them."
Her upcoming album, which she’ll preview at the Orleans, also could be the title of the new series: “Dance Like You Don’t Give a …”
Since her debut album “Blue” in 1996, LeAnn has sold more than 40 million albums and won two Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards and three Academy of Country Music Awards. Of her 42 singles that hit the Billboard Hot Country Songs, 13 went Top 10.
Her newest album “Spitfire” released last spring was her 15th, and many still remember her winning performance in “Northern Lights” but don’t realize that she also is the author of two novels and two children’s books.
Before she packed for her journey here, we got a chance to catch up for another candid conversation. I didn’t need to remind her of our previous chat in December 2012 when she stayed at the Venetian.
We talked about you pushing the envelope a little more. It was a period of growth and self-exploration, getting life back to normal. That was then, so what is now?
I remember. Now I’m restructuring my whole life, which is terrifying and exciting. I was with the same record label for 20 years, but I’m not there anymore. I’m still creating music and exploring labels.
I just did a Motley Crue tribute record, which was really fun. I recorded “Smoking in the Boys Room.” It’s really cool. “Trombone Shorty” is on it; it’s a really fun record. I don’t know if Vince (Neil) and Tommy Lee have heard it yet. I’m excited for them to hear it. I know the label has heard it and loves it.
When you say life is terrifying at the same time as exhilarating, what is the frightening part?
Terrifying because my whole life is changing. Being somewhere where you signed a record deal at age 11, the change of it all; I've never known any other place to create music other than Curb Records.
It’s exciting more so than anything, but just to find new grounding and people who I trust and want to work with — being with Curb was a roller coaster. Such is the nature of the business, but I really hope to find a home that gets me now at 31 and doesn’t see me through the same eyes as when I first got signed.
Is it a little like the birds leaving the nest, flying free?
Pretty much. It does feel a little awkward. The day that it was over, I was doing a show in December and was flooded with all these emotions, I had no idea this was even going to happen. I just thought it would be a new day, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m out of my record deal and I can go search out new things for myself.”
It was quite overwhelming. I ended up in the back of my bus crying. Then I got over it and started meeting labels. It’s a good time, and I’m taking it slow; I’m not trying to rush into anything. I’m still writing for the next record right now so I can have everything in place.
Country stars seem to thrive on emotional roller coasters that provide the basis of most of the song’s material, yes? No?
Yeah, I mean for me, absolutely. Just the truth about life is to me what music is no matter what genre. Country music has always been known for “you live what you sing, and you sing what you live.” That’s the way I approach my music.
It’s a baring of the soul, so I have to ask, is that a catharsis?
Completely. Once again it’s one of those things you’re ripping yourself apart learning about new layers of yourself. Writing about things that are very uncomfortable to write about sometimes, but that’s also exhilarating and terrifying to do, to put yourself so open out there that way.
It was the first time I approached music like that or had the balls to do it, actually. It was a whole new different experience to be able to see other people relate to that on such a human level.
People relate to each of those songs on that record in their life in a different way. For me, it’s different now than making music when I was a kid. I was singing a lot of other people’s songs and never had lived what I was writing about. Now it takes on a whole new meaning for me.
So if the emotional purification helps you personally, do you get mail from fans who thank you for helping them by baring your all?
Oh, yes! I get face-to-face encounters with so many people who will have a story related to a song. It’s amazing when you’ve written that, and someone else knows that exact situation. It’s an overwhelming emotion that they relate to another situation in their life that’s unrelated to the song.
A song like “Borrowed,” on my last record that was about an affair, and some people related to it as someone they’d just lost in their life as far as death. The lyrics are “I don’t want to give you back.” It’s really amazing when you start connecting with people like that on such a deep level. They really feel the need to walk up and share their stories, and I find it really fascinating.
So we’re going to hear some of that in the new show?
Has the show changed since you were last in Las Vegas?
I think that it’s really intimate now. It’s really one of those things where we play a lot of new music from “Spitfire,” but we do a lot of the older songs. I used to go by the set list, but I don’t anymore really. I have one, but I love to talk to the crowd, I love to hear what they scream out, and if we know it, we’ll play it.
If it’s not something so obscure that we haven’t done it before, then we just go with the flow. I’ll just turn to the band and ask them if we can roll with it. If they give the nod, we do it. That’s flying by the seat of your pants, isn’t it? Nothing really planned. It’s really fun. I’ve never had as much fun onstage, so I enjoy it more than ever.
So it’s an unstructured show that’s based on the mood of the moment?
It definitely has a little structure, but as we get down around mid-show, I go with what the crowd is feeling a little bit. That’s what a live show is about, living in the moment of music and spontaneity.
Is the spontaneity a little bit like walking the high wire in the circus?
No. I guess that I’m so used to performing that this way actually makes it fun for me. Night after night when I was a kid, to have to stick to a specific set list just gets to a point where you can feel like a robot. Now, to be able to do something like this, thank God for my band! Sometimes I look around and ask do you know this song? It keeps them on their toes, and it keeps me on mine. There’s a definite energy that’s different than me just checking in every night or checking out.
Of course under their breath they’re saying, “Thank you very much, LeAnn!”
They give me a lot of crap!
And how is your personal life?
Personal life is good. I’ve been home enjoying it a little more, which has been very nice. I love to cook and I love to be able to be home. Two weeks at a time is the right amount, a great amount of time, and I’ve had a lot of those from the beginning of this year. It’s been nice to be at home.
So the turmoil has quieted down somewhat? (Although this week, there was some argumentative Twitter frenzy over her and Brandi’s messages about celebrating Mother’s Day also as Stepmother’s Day.)
Well, I guess for the most part. Living in a blended family, there’s always going to be some turmoil, but the kids are fantastic. Eddie and I have a very quiet, normal life. Unless someone needs to use it to spin the press for some reason to try and mess with us.
I remember the last time we talked, you were having to put up with a lot of wild accusations being flung at you.
They still come and it’s funny because Eddie and I have really learned to laugh at it because the stories that people come up with are just ludicrous. Apparently the other day I underwent surgery for ab implants. I didn’t even know you could get ab implants. My publicist and I had to look it up to see if you can even actually do it.
I don’t know how they come up with this stuff. Apparently, I saw a psychic recently to get pregnant. It’s such craziness that you have to just sit back and separate yourself from it and just laugh at it when you hear it because if people believe that, then let them have fun believing it.
But ab implants! To get a six-pack or something. Is that not crazy? One minute we’re divorcing, the next minute we’re having a baby. It’s quite the roller-coaster ride. I commend these people sometimes for their imagination!
We have our regular, normal life, and we know what it is and we’re fine with it. I guess that’s why some people want to believe that it really is a soap opera. Truth is at home it’s all pretty tame. It’s nice to have grounding, especially in L.A., to have the grounding of family and the security of that.
Just don’t have too much stability because you’ll run out of song material!
Oh, no, trust me, that’s not how my life works! I will not run out of song material, I promise.
LeAnn Rimes is at Orleans Showroom at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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True to its namesake, The Orleans gives visitors a year-round Mardi Gras feeling with a New Orleans French Quarter environment.
Located just a short way from the center of gambling on the Strip, The Orleans offers a collection of attractions that helps to draw in a mix of locals and visitors.
In addition to the 1,885 hotel rooms and 134,000-square foot casino, the property has a 70-lane bowling center, an 18-screen movie theater, an 850-seat showroom and a 9,500-seat arena, home to the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team.
The hotel also has 14 dining options, including Canal Street, The Prime Rib Loft, Koji Sushi Bar & China Bistro and Big Al’s Oyster Bar.