Like most artists, LeAnn Rimes doesn’t make a habit of listening to her own albums. She worries she’ll hear a mistake, or something she wishes she could change.
But she’s making an exception for Today is Christmas, her latest holiday release that hit stores in October.
“After many years of trying to please other people, it feels so good to do what I want,” she says. “I don’t feel like there’s anything missing anymore. I’m proud of the Christmas record. Maybe that’s why I can bear with it.”
Accordingly, she’s proud and supportive of anything that carries her name, whether it’s a clothing line or other product.
“After years and years of being in business, I’ve learned to be authentic that way,” she says.
The authenticity shines through on Today is Christmas, which features guest appearances by Aloe Blacc (“That Spirit of Christmas”) and Gavin DeGraw (“Celebrate Me Home”).
“They’re such great guys,” Rimes says. “They’re both such soulful people. They have completely different voices. They both brought their own things to each song.
She calls DeGraw “crazy” and Blacc “a kind soul.”
“I saw him [Blacc] perform live and when ‘That Spirit of Christmas’ came up, I thought he’d sound really cool on the song.
“I had never met him, but he immediately said yes. He came in the studio, we shook hands, said hello and went face to face with two microphones. It was like a love scene where you say, ‘Hey, nice to meet you. Let’s make out.’ I got to know him really quickly and he’s a kind, kind, sweet soul.”
Creating a holiday collection was much more challenging than an original studio album, she says. She worked on making songs sound original, but possess the same traits as the standard.
“It’s definitely a challenge to do that, to find songs people have heard and not a million times,” she says. “I had written a couple of originals, which was really fun as well.”
For Today is Christmas, she wanted to capture the gamut of emotions felt by fans during the holidays. There are some who feel sad because they associate the season with deaths or breakups. Others are joyous toward the end of the year.
Rimes’ Christmas season is the latter.
“I have to say that my favorite Christmas is one of the most recent ones,” she says. “My husband [actor Eddie Cibrian]and I got engaged on Christmas Eve several years ago. I would have to say that was probably one of my top Christmas memories.”
In 2016, she’s hoping to create more musical memories for her fans, who will then see a new album. There are other projects in the works that she’s not ready to announce.
Whether Rimes is working on a new album or not, she is always writing. When she’s inspired, she’ll take notes and take them to the next writing session.
“My inspiration all depends on the day,” she says with a laugh. “Last year during my Christmas tour, somebody in the audience yelled out ‘I still believe in Santa.’ I don’t know why. It was pretty random.
“I knew we were talking about writing originals for the next record. I said, ‘That’s a great song title.’ My inspiration comes from random places—a dream or life.”
LeAnn Rimes w/Ellee Duke, Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino’s Ovations Live Showroom, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler, 800.946.4452, wingilariver.com, Friday, December 18, 8 p.m., $47-$99