LeAnn Rimes brings an intimate acoustic tour to Vilar Performing Arts Center | VailDaily.com

LeAnn Rimes brings an intimate acoustic tour to Vilar Performing Arts Center

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times

Earlier this year, LeAnn Rimes and her touring band decided to scrap their quiver of songs and start from scratch.

The country-pop star and her bandmates did a series of rehearsals reworking her live show, seeking fresh approaches to songs she'd grown bored with and coming up with fresh arrangements for her beloved, road-worn hits such as "How Do I Live" and "Something's Gotta Give."

The result is an intimate acoustic tour that comes to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek today at 7:30 p.m.

"I'm really excited about performing the songs I've been singing forever," Rimes said in a recent phone interview. "'How Do I Live' we've reworked into this beautiful, intimate moment in the show. It's almost a different song. It's so heartbreaking. You feel everything in it."

"Something's Gotta Give" has evolved into a down-home bluegrass tune — a centerpiece of a stripped-down show that puts her powerhouse voice and lyrics center stage.

"It's really intimate," she said of the current live show. "I love having that with an audience. I think people really have a moment of getting to know me, and hopefully, it's a great show of fantastic music."

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It's hard to believe it's been two decades since a 13-year-old Rimes burst onto the country music scene with her cover of Billy Mack's "Blue" in 1996, beginning her run of chart-topping records that helped country on its way to dominating the pop landscape. She's sold more than 40 million records and, with "How Do I Live," scored the second-longest charting song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. She signed her first record deal at 11 and won her first Grammy at 14. So you've got to commend her for holding onto a creative vitality and making an effort to see songs she's been performing for most of her life with fresh eyes.

On her current tour, Rimes is playing material from her whole catalog — from "Blue" up through 2013's "Spitfire." Scaling down the production, she said, has rekindled a passion for songs that might seem to have come from another lifetime.

"When you're not bound to having to fit something to radio stations, you can play around and it can become anything," she said. "Some of them we've looked at each other and said, 'Why didn't we do the record like that?' That freedom, to be able to do something like that live, is really fun."

Like many artists these days, Rimes is also turning over control of some of her set to fans, who can make song requests on her Facebook page.

"People from the audience constantly are yelling out different songs they'd love for me to perform, but it may be 12 years old and we've never performed it together," she said. "So I thought maybe we could do some of those if we know ahead of time."

Rimes is combining the local tour stop with a short Aspen ski vacation with husband Eddie Cibrian. Their relationship, like much of Rimes' adult life, has been fodder for tabloids. As a young music prodigy, Rimes didn't count on her personal life getting worldwide attention or seeing ridiculous and surreal stories fabricated in the press. But, she said, she's tried to turn that circus into inspiration. She's poured her frustrations with paparazzi and tabloids into her writing, she said, and every so often used fake tabloid stories about her as jumping-off points for songs.

"It's like, 'Wait, an article is coming out about what?' And it takes some time away," she said. "My life fuels my work, and it's amazing the stories that people come up with about me. So it makes a good song every once in a while. I look at it that way. I've had to."

Rimes has been at work on new songs since September, and is beginning the recording process on her next album this spring. After a few years away from recording a proper studio album — she released back-to-back Christmas albums in 2014 and 2015 — Rimes said she feels like she's just now coming into her own as a singer-songwriter.

"I've been in this business for 20 years now. And the LeAnn Rimes that's done all the things I've done, it's fantastic," she said. "But there's this other side that's just LeAnn, this songwriter that's just developing. And I think this next record will be the first thing that is what I feel like arriving in my skin, speaking volumes to who I am. I'm so grateful for all I've accomplished but there's more left."

If you go …

What: LeAnn Rimes.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.

Cost: Tickets start at $105.

More information: Tickets are on sale now at the VPAC Box Office, by calling 970-845-8497 or at http://www.vilarpac.org.