Rimes weathers bumps on wild ride

LeAnn Rimes is the singing voice of actress Piper Perabo in Jerry Bruckheimer's new film "Coyote Ugly." The filmmakers added a cameo for the 17-year-old country singer, which marks her movie debut.

She recorded four songs for the film against her doctor's orders to rest her voice.

"It's just been one crazy wild ride this year," said Rimes, who was forced to cancel her summer concert tour, scheduled to begin in mid-July. A strained right vocal cord was the reason given. She now concedes her ailments are more serious.

Rimes wanted to include Diane Warren's "Please Remember" on her next album. But Warren told her that Bruckheimer was using it for "Coyote Ugly."

"So when I went over to Jerry and they didn't have anybody for the soundtrack yet, I'm like, 'I really, really would like to do this song,' and he said, 'OK,"' she said in a telephone interview from her Los Angeles home.

Warren's string of hits includes "How Do I Live." Trisha Yearwood sang it in 1997's "Con Air" after Bruckheimer, the film's producer, scrapped Rimes' version.

The Web site for LeAnn Rimes is www.rimestimes.com. The Web site for Coyote Ugly is studio.go.com/movies/ coyoteugly/intro.html.

"It was all sort of interesting. Things come back full circle. It's business," Rimes said.

Yearwood got the Grammy; Rimes got the sales. Her version of "How Do I Live" sold 3 million copies and was on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for 69 consecutive weeks.

Rimes also recorded Warren's "Right Kind of Wrong," "But I Do Love You" and "Can't Fight the Moonlight," which will be the movie's first single.

The recording sessions and the filming of her scenes were completed about three weeks ago. Rimes went ahead with the recordings, although her doctor had ordered 60 to 90 days of vocal rest and therapy.

"We did it in three weeks, which is unheard of to do four songs. We do like maybe a song in a week and a half, two weeks, so it was pretty insane and pretty crammed," she said.

Saving her voice

In the film directed by David McNally, Perabo is an aspiring songwriter who works as a barmaid at Coyote Ugly. Rimes' voice is dubbed when Perabo sings.

"It's me, but it doesn't sound like me. I softened it. I kinda sang more nasally." she said. "It was kind of interesting because they got me back in the studio. They said I sounded too much like LeAnn. I said, 'Well, I'm sorry.'"

However, she gets to sound like herself on the soundtrack album (Curb Records).

As for her health, "I've had four cases of tonsillitis in the past three or four months," she now admits. "I also had a case of mono, which I'm now coming out of. I think I've had mono for a little over a year now. It kept on going and then it went into my vocal cord.

"It wasn't a polyp or anything. I wanted to keep the polyp off of it, so that's why I had to cancel the tour. I'd rather be able to sing 20 years from now than blow it and not be able to."

She hopes to be well enough to do a short tour of eight to 10 concerts this fall, starting Sept. 29-30 in Reno, Nev.

Rimes said her tour schedule of some 400 concerts in three years likely contributed to her health problems. The tour followed her debut hit "Blue" in 1996, when she was 13. She won Grammy awards in 1997 for best new artist and best female country vocal.

"I really had no rest. I was doing interviews and touring. I would never do it again," she said.

Crediting family, friends

Her current single, "I Need You" (Sparrow/Capitol/Curb), is from the CBS miniseries "Jesus." It is in the top five on Billboard's adult contemporary chart.

Her sixth album � most of which she wrote or co-wrote � is due out early next year.

"I just picked up writing recently and I love it," she said. "It's going in the direction that I want to head. I don't think I'm giving anybody anything to yell about, 'Oh, she's going completely away from country,' but it's definitely got an R&B; feel, a lot of the '70s kind of rock 'n' roll feel. Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin.

"It's more of a raw feel. The country part is more of a folk feel. It's kind of mixed up."

She said it's the blend that her father Wilbur Rimes listened to when she was growing up in Mississippi and Texas; mostly country, but with dashes of rock and rhythm and blues.

Rimes doesn't hesitate to credit her father for her musical upbringing, despite her lawsuit against him and former co-manager Lyle Walker. The suit accuses them of siphoning off more than $7 million from her earnings.

"I've learned a big lesson in life. I've learned not to mix family and business anymore. I really love my father and I love my mother and it's really a tough situation right now, but everything's going to work out for the best and what's supposed to happen will happen.

"I've been so fortunate to have fans that really stick by me. Even people that work with me and not being able to go on tour. Everybody's been so wonderful.

"Next year I'll be back with a new album and a new tour and kind of a new LeAnn. I won't be a 13(-year-old) LeAnn with 'Blue' anymore."


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