Country and pop songwriter LeAnn Rimes is going to attract contemporary Christian fans with her new project, but she might not be the archetype for some of the genre's most conservative listeners.
Rimes—who's headed to St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater on Friday, June 24—is a massive supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and has fiddled around with everything from country music to pop, the latter having a presence on her early 2000s work.
From the looks of it, it’s been almost a decade since the “How Do I Live” singer last rolled into town, at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall, but the 39-year-old is back in town in promotion of a new album, entitled God’s Work (but stylized all lowercase as in "god's work").
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay caught up with her for a quick Q&A ahead of the gig. "The story…so far tour" is celebrating your 25 years in music, decades after Blue released and won wide acclaim. What are the biggest ways in which you’ve grown as an artist and songwriter in the years since? What are constants that have remained the same?
I guess I’ve been very unafraid to explore whatever I was drawn to explore in that moment. There’s never been any boundaries with music for me and I’ve always been pretty fearless. The biggest thing that is constantly evolving is my growth as a human being which plays into the music I am creating in that movement and I feel is reflected in all of my records, but especially my forthcoming album, God’s Work. I expand so much with each and every record.
The album has some big names on its features list. How has collaborating with artists of different styles affected your own process and sound?
I have always explored many different genres of music, so I feel like my choice of collaborators reflects that in this record. I love experiencing other artists in their process and the inspiration that comes along with that.
What are the major themes or concepts we can expect to hear on your new record?
God’s Work really explores the duality of life, the light and the dark and how everything is a part of creation. My intention for this album was to open people’s hearts and minds and inspire them to contemplate what it would look like to create a more loving world internally and externally, and to challenge the ideology that we’ve naively accepted through generations of conditioning.
Can you tell us about the significance of lowercase wording used throughout the album? Especially on a record that deals so heavily with spirituality–what’s the message there? [There was no capitalization in Rimes' email responses, CL has edited them accordingly.]
I got a tattoo of “god’s work” right after I wrote the song. I posted the tattoo on social media and there was a big uproar and argument amongst those who commented on the post about why I hadn’t capitalized the “g.” My feeling is, if we are arguing about why the "g" is or isn’t capitalized, we’re missing the whole point. When it came to the visuals for the new record, I figured, if it gets peoples attention and everyone talking, maybe we can actually get to the deeper conversations. I don’t think god cares whether or not the “g” is capitalized. I believe we are in desperate need of getting to the place where we are actually embodying the love, grace and forgiveness that is being asked of us through spiritual teachings instead of them only existing as mental constructs.
Your podcast, "Wholly Human," uses intimate conversations to explore ranging emotions and experiences we face. Has conducting and learning from these conversations influenced the way you approach music at all?
There’s a consistent through line in everything that I am creating at the moment. From my podcast to the new record. My own spiritual, life journey has influenced my art in a very deep way and wholly human is an extension of that. A lot of the topics that we explore on the podcast are reflected on the record.