Where were you when you were 14? Many of us were going through the trials and tribulations of elementary algebra, as well as trying to figure out how to get that elusive 'Learner's Permit' driver's license. But the accolades keep coming for country music's newest sensation, LeAnn Rimes, who at the tender age of 14 has done what many artists twice her age haven't done. Winner of the 1997 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, LeAnn has come far in a short time. This, however, wasn't an overnight trip to stardom. LeAnn has been singing for audiences since she was two years old. Her first big break came at the age of five, when she entered and won her first song and dance competition. This was her first indication that bigger things laid ahead for her career in show business. It was then and there that she told her parents that the entertainment industry was her future.
Auditions are part of the territory for any entertainer. LeAnn paid her dues by going through the audition wringer. But this experience did give her valuable knowledge and contacts that would let the world know she took her music seriously. After her family moved to Texas, she tried out for the lead of the Broadway production of 'Annie II'. Even though she was nudged out of successfully winning this role (barely), LeAnn made her stage debut in a Dallas production of 'A Christmas Carol'. LeAnn took her cherubic voice and gave it to the character Tiny Tim. The show, 'Star Search' came calling next, and LeAnn managed to stay at the top of the heap for two weeks against the rest of the international talent competition. Lest it slip anyone's mind, 'Star Search' has given us acts like Sawyer Brown, which is still at the top of the country charts.
With regular and consistently fantastic performances, LeAnn managed to develop a loyal following of fans in Texas. Performances like the acapella singing of the Star Spangled Banner at Dallas Cowboys football games, and the Walt Garrison Rodeo & Cutting Horse Championship in Fort Worth only solidified her already strong intentions to be a success in country music.
LeAnn's first album was recorded when she was 11. The album entitled All That was produced by her dad, Wilbur and released on the independent label Nor Va Jak. This LP featured a version of the hit song 'Blue' which had been sent to Bill Mack, one of LeAnn's songwriters. Mack had written the song originally 30 years ago, and had given it to the legendary Patsy Cline to record. Ms. Cline died before she could record Blue . But after he heard LeAnn sing at one of her performances, he sent her a tape of the song. Even though her dad didn't think the song was right for her singing style, LeAnn kept bugging him to let her record it. The father/daughter team headed to the studios of Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico, where rock-n-roll icon Buddy Holly cut his first album. This album first hit the shelves in the Dallas area. But it also sent a chill down the spine of every record exec on Music Row in Nashville. After the pushing and shoving of a bidding war between labels, LeAnn signed with MCG/Curb Records. Even record exec Mike Curb was impressed with the extraordinary talent LeAnn exhibited on her tape.
The first CD LeAnn cut for Curb contained a new version of the song Blue , as well as an new version of the song, 'I'll Get Even With You'. The CD 'Blue' also contained a song that has become a new classic in the hearts of every cowboy & cowgirl called 'Cattle Call'. This duet was sung with country legend Eddy Arnold, who is said to have taken LeAnn under his wing as an adopted daughter!
LeAnn's first songwriting venture is also on the CD 'Blue' in the form of the song 'Talk To Me'. Songwriters Ron Grimes and Jon Rutherford helped LeAnn with this first venture into the world of songwriting. She also says she wants to continue songwriting, and with the success she's had thus far, there shouldn't be anything that should prevent her from coming up with some really straight to the heart tunes.
As for influences on her singing, LeAnn gives credit to artists that come from pop, as well as country traditions. She says Barbra Streisand, Reba McEntire, Wynonna and Patsy Cline (there's a surprise) have been big influences on her singing. She doesn't want to limit herself to singing, though. LeAnn also thinks there might be work for her in front of the camera someday. Wherever she goes from here, though, it's almost a certainty that her 'One Way Ticket' to stardom will be a long and happy trip!
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