LeAnn Rimes signed her first label deal at 11, and by 13 had won two Grammys for her country breakthrough hit “Blue,” which earned her comparisons to Patsy Cline. But lately, her talent has been eclipsed by controversy, in headlines about her whirlwind marriage to actor Eddie Cibriani and ensuing Twitter scuffle with his ex, Brandi Glanville; the couple’s short-lived VH1 reality-TV show “LeAnn & Eddie”; and a steady stream of bikini-clad tabloid magazine shots. “I love the latest headlines – ‘LeAnn takes 40 vitamin pills a day!’” she says, chuckling over a recent revelation. “If that’s the only story they can come up with these days, it’s pretty funny — who knew self-care was such a bad thing?” Now free of her old label, Curb, she’ll reclaim her throne with an upcoming seasonal disc, “Today is Christmas,” and a revitalized sound and outlook. She plays an intimate show, accompanied by two guitarists, presented by San Francisco Symphony this week.
With your last contract-ending effort for Curb, 2013’s “Spitfire,” you went out with a roar, not a whimper, with guests like Rob Thomas and Jeff Beck.
Yeah. It was crucial to me. It was more important to make a record that set the stage for the next chapter of my life, in a way that was honest and authentic. But I had a lot to write about this time, I couldn’t hide anything, and it made for some really good music. I could have turned in anything just to get off the label. But that’s not who I am — I want to be proud of everything I do.
Did you make a conscious decision to ignore the social-media hoopla and get your mojo back?
Yes, I did. I needed a break, and I really thought it through on what kind of album I wanted to make, and how I wanted to tell the truth. And I think that was somewhat defiant, because there’s all this crazy stuff out there about me. I felt like everything had been stripped away from me. But now I’m in a place where I can do anything, so it’s terrifying and awesome at the same time.
Your bikini shots get gossiped about. But folks don’t know that you had such bad psoriasis as a kid, you couldn’t wear one.
It was horrific. I was covered on 80 percent of my body by the time I was 6. We lived in an apartment complex with a pool right below us, so I would sit and wait for a time when there was no one at the pool, and I would get so self-conscious if someone came to the pool. So when I moved out to L.A., and I got clear and healthy, I decided to use the beach for all it was worth!
IF YOU GO
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23
Tickets: $20 to $95
Contact: (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.orgBrandi GlanvilleEddie CibrianiJeff BeckLe Ann RimesRob ThomasSan Francisco SymphonySpitfireToday Is Christmas