LeAnn Rimes lived the first half of her life at light speed. The 34-year-old started singing at 3, took to the Texas opry stages at 5, and at 14 became the youngest person ever to win a Grammy. At a time when other teenagers are just figuring out where they fit in and who they are, Rimes was shouldering the burden of fame—the pressure, the scrutiny, and the responsibility of employing a team of nearly 70. By her 20s, she'd experienced landslide career success but was being crushed by anxiety, depression, and insecurity. The day after her 30th birthday, she started her journey to wellness. Soul-searching, guided by visionaries in wellness, helped her heal from a lost childhood and embrace the gifts in her life. She's now ready to share her journey with a new blog, Soul of EverLe, launching this weekend. She sat down with mindbodygreen to talk about the challenges she's faced and the happiness she's building every day.
mindbodygreen: How did you start performing? Was it something you were drawn to do?
LeAnn Rimes: It came so naturally to me. I would learn a new song every week and practice during the week. My dad was great about that and instilled a very strong work ethic in me. It was always fun to be, you know, onstage and still to this day. It's just such a release.
mbg: What was it a release from?
LR: Well, I was diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 2. I was 80 percent covered by the time I was 6. I was constantly in and out of the hospital and trying to work with that. And at around 5 years old I started singing onstage at all the Texas opries every Saturday night. It was tough. Kids can be cruel. Between the psoriasis and having to constantly cover that and the singing, the girls at school really didn't love that. My teachers and my principal would always put stuff up about me that had gone in the newspaper. It wasn't the easiest of times for me growing up, but music was my escape. I definitely struggled with a few things.
mbg: From the outside you looked like the epitome of success. How did those struggles manifest?
LR: I hid a lot of things as a kid. I was wearing jeans in 105-degree weather or three pairs of pantyhose onstage to cover the psoriasis. My sweet mother did it to try to protect me, but when you start hiding parts of yourself it really messes with your head and then you start thinking that you need to hide other things and feelings and stuff everything down. So music for me was definitely an emotional release. And still is! I was just onstage last night crying. The music just hits me sometimes. I think that was one of the reasons I was able to relate in such an adult way to those early songs because even though I might not have experienced what the song was saying, I had those emotions inside. The most powerful singers are the ones who allow for that vulnerability. Last night I was holding back tears for five songs at first. I finally had to say, "I'm emotional tonight."
mbg: I'm sure people loved that rawness and authenticity.
LR: Yeah, I've learned there's no hiding onstage for me. And I sat there thinking this is a really vulnerable place to be. When I was younger I was working so much that I became kind of a robot. I could check out. These days I really try to be present and that presence is very powerful and very intense. Especially when you see people being moved by what you're doing.
mbg: Was "checking out" a means of self-protection?
LR: Yeah. My friends and my parents have all these stories about when I was 14 or 15 and I'm like "Oh I did that? I don't remember that." I kind of shut off. I was constantly on the road. So for me it was normal. I didn't feel the stress of it at the time until I was about 16 or 17. By then I'd done 500 shows. I think the biggest stress was having 67 people on payroll at that age. If I didn't work, they didn't work. It was a lot of responsibility.