By Josette Keelor
Next Friday, country music star and two-time Grammy winner LeAnn Rimes will arrive in Winchester to perform at the Patsy Cline Theatre at Handley High School.
As part of the tour for her new album "Spitfire," set to come out in the spring, Rimes is prepared to sing some of what she calls the most meaningful songs she ever has written.
"It's the truth, this whole album is the truth," she said in a phone interview Wednesday from her home in Los Angeles.
Rimes' upcoming performance at the annual Patsy Cline Classic follows previous guests Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys and Wynonna Judd.
At the event, Winchester mayor, Liz Minor, will present Rimes with the key to the city.
Quoted in a press release from Russ Potts Productions Inc., Minor said, "It was such a tremendous honor presenting the key to the City of Winchester to Willie Nelson and Wynonna Judd at the first and third Patsy Cline Classic Concerts and I am so looking forward to presenting the key to LeAnn Rimes on Friday.... This will be a great event that will benefit all the schoolchildren of the City of Winchester."
Bursting into the music business at the age of 14, Rimes, now 30, landed the No. 1 spot on the Top Country Albums chart with her hit single, "Blue," which country legend Bill Mack wrote for Winchester-native Cline, who died before she could sing it.
"Blue" made Rimes the youngest country music star since Tanya Tucker in 1972 and, in 1997, the youngest ever to win a Grammy. But even before singing the song that would change her life forever, Rimes said she felt a connection to Cline and looks forward to her upcoming performance for the Patsy Cline Classic.
"I'm excited, you know. ... I think it's so fitting," Rimes said. "I've been compared to her ever since I was a little kid."
Thinking back on when she sang "Blue," Rimes said, "I've always kind of thought it fell into my hands in the perfect way."
Her father hated the song, she admitted, and she remembers digging it out of the trash after considering whether or not to sing it, but in the end, she said, "I made it my own."
"I kind of channeled her in a little way," Rimes said, having listened to Cline throughout her childhood. "The yodel thing I did wasn't in the demo."
Her choices, nonetheless, made the more-than-30-year-old song instantly relevant to the late 1990s, and 16 years later, Rimes' relevance keeps growing.
"The new album, I'm so proud of it," Rimes said. "I find myself listening to that album without skipping a song," which, to her, speaks to a certain level of success.
"I wrote nine out of 13 of the songs on that album," she said. "I really looked at this album as if ... I was making a film in a lot of ways."
The album, she said, is "Really about connecting with the other human being on the other end."
But writing about so many personal moments in one's life does not come easy, she said.
Her song, "Borrowed," about falling in love with someone who already belongs to someone else speaks about the relationship she had with now husband actor Eddie Cibrian, who costarred with her in the film "Northern Lights"; and another, "What Have I Done..." expresses her regret for hurting first husband Dean Sheremet.
In "Borrowed," Rimes says, "I don't want to give you back/You're the best love I've had/But you're borrowed/Only borrowed."
"What Have I Done?," which she co-wrote with Darrell Brown and David Baerwald, asks: "What have I done/What have I done?/There's a hurt in me that I'll never understand/What have I done/What have I done?/I broke the sweetest heart of the only man that's ever loved me."
The song is one of many on the new album that tells a story Rimes said had to be told. It was difficult, she said, but also liberating.
"I'm a very emotional person anyways so it was really great to get it out," she said. "I fell in love with making music again when making this record."
It was one of her favorite experiences during the making of "Spitfire."
'I'd been carrying that title around for about eight months," she said Wednesday, but figuring out how to write the song without offending anyone kept the words inside her for awhile.
Finally, she decided, "I'm just going to say it," and her cowriter Dan Wilson, who wrote "Someone Like You" for Adele and later collaborated with Rimes on "Spitfire," told her "Keep talking."
"Everything that was said in that song pretty much came out of my own mouth that day," Rimes said, calling the admission a very dark moment for her, one filled with a lot of tears.
"It was one of the lowest moments of my life," she said. "It was at my own expense to say how pathetic I was at the time."
But from a musical standpoint, it was pure magic, one of those moments that sticks with you.
"I love the performance on the record," she said. "It's one of my favorite, favorite songs that I've ever been a part of writing."
After that, she said, laughing, writing about herself has been much less difficult, and she said it's helped her move on from trials of the past.
"It's just now beginning again," she said. "I'm so thankful for the 18 years I've had to lead up to this moment."
"The good, the bad, the ugly has made me who I am," she said. "That's all I can ask for."
As for the future, she said, "We'll see what happens." So far being able to check singer, actress and author off of her list of achievements all before the age of 30, Rimes easily could end her career without regrets, but, she said, "There's still plenty I want to accomplish."
It's a weird feeling, she said, being so completely satisfied with an album for the first time, but "it's a nice feeling to have."
"It's only going to get better from here."
To order tickets for LeAnn Rimes' performance at the Patsy Cline Theatre, at Handley High School in Winchester, visit ticketfly.com, The Total Image and Working Man's Store on Boscawen Street in Winchester or Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery at the intersection of Boscawen and Amherst streets.Tickets for the concert cost $79.50, $59.50 and $39.50.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or email@example.com