US Country star LeAnn Rimes speaks to Tina Campbell about performing at the London 02 and what advice she would give to her younger self.

WITH record sales of more than 37 million, two Grammy Awards by 14-years-old, and hits including How Do I Live and Can't Fight The Moonlight, LeAnn Rimes is already a veteran in the world of country music aged only 30.

She will join Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Vince Gill, plus more of the world's leading country music artists at the London O2 in Greenwich as the venue stages its first ever UK country music festival, C2C: Country To Country, next weekend (from Mar 16 to March 17).

The Mississippi-born star said: “I'm looking forward to playing, it should be fun. In the UK I have such great fans; everybody is super into their music there”.

As Greenwich prepares to be transformed into a mini Nashville for the weekend, is she surprised that this is the first time that such a festival will take place?

She explained: “Country music has really opened up into more of a mainstream genre than it ever has been. I know in the UK it has been more like, older school country music, so it's exciting to see it crossing over and that people are really embracing it.”

The blonde country sensation will perform at the O2 next Sunday and her album Spitfire will be released the day after, marking her first musical release in five years.

She told me: “I've been working on this now for 4 years and co-wrote nine out of the thirteen songs. I'm very proud of this album, it's an emotional roller-coaster ride: every emotion as a human being is on this record. It’s about my life over the past few years.”

Those years have included a much publicised affair with her now-husband, CSI actor Eddie Cibrian, and an on-going feud via the tabloids with his ex-wife and reality TV star, Brandi Glanville.

The delicate subject of Rimes and Cibrian's affair is drawn on in the album's lead single, 'Borrowed'.

LeAnn said: “I was afraid to tackle the subject and to write it because I knew I would have to be so brutally honest in the song.

“There were a lot of tears, it was very cathartic to write something like that. It's so honest that it's what made the record what it is and I realised there's no topic off limits: I had nothing to hide, nothing to lose by telling the truth.”

“I think people can relate to it more than most want to admit. Most were taken aback, but the honesty on this album is at no-one's expense, other than mine.

“It's not like I went out to attack anyone: I'm just telling the truth about how I felt and there was nothing pretty about that moment.”

Signing to her record label nearly 20 years ago, she has seen first-hand the changes in the music industry.

She told me: “It is much harder to get into. I feel that I'm the last to after almost 20 years, have a career like I do. I have ridden the roller-coaster ride of life, the ups and downs of fame and success.

“I think fame is more prominent these days than talent which is very sad to me. People chase after fame more so than the love of music.

“Tabloids are bigger than they have ever been, that wasn't around when I was a kid. It's a whole new animal than when I started.”

If she could go back in time she says she would offer some advice to her younger self.

She said: “One big thing for me is to take in the moment. I experienced all of these incredible things as a kid and never really took in what walking on to stage to receive a Grammy meant – I was 14.

“I don't think I had the life experience to know and to really cherish it. These days even the smallest of successes, I'm truly trying to enjoy and appreciate every bit of it.”

Summing up her motto in life, she said: “Let it go. I've had this gift ever since I was a kid and I have always tried to be perfect.

“There is such beauty in the imperfection of things and in the chaos that I'm trying to let it be more and try not to control life. That's where happiness comes.”

Spitfire is out on March 18. LeAnn Rimes is performing at the Country to Country music festival on Sunday March 17 at The O2 London.

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LeAnn Rimes spoke to Meridian Radio presenter Tina Campbell during her Craveonmusic show, broadcast from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.

Meridian Radio is charity funded, broadcast from the hospital and manned entirely by volunteers.
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