When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. For LeAnn Rimes, that translates to: If you are caught having an affair with a married man and have your life dissected by tabloids, make a record out of it.
The country singer’s new release due this spring, titled “Spitfire,” goes back to when Rimes, then married, had an affair with actor and Lifetime movie co-star Eddie Cibrian. The two have since married, but Rimes has become the center of a gossip-filled battle with his ex-wife, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Brandi Glanville, over tabloids and Twitter.
Rimes rose to fame at 13 with the vocally powerful song “Blue,” which drew comparisons to Patsy Cline, and scored other big hits including “How Do I Live.”
The 30-year-old co-wrote many of the songs on “Spitfire,” including “Borrowed” and “What Have I Done.” They revisit the time she met Cibrian and her feelings of guilt and falling in love.
Q: Why did you decide to make “Spitfire” about your affair?
A: I didn’t set out to take that route. It’s how it ended up crafting itself when I wrote the song “Borrowed,” which is the most revealing about the situation and how I felt. People think they know me, and what my intentions were. They like to write my life for me. I didn’t know how to write that song without being brutally honest about it.
Q: Has the album helped you get over the guilt?
A: It was very cathartic, the humanity of it. You realize you’re not the only one. There are so many people who have lived through these songs. It’s unfortunate it was played out in public. It’s been a struggle and I’m in a really good place now. Whenever I’m listening to one of the songs I’m singing, I fall right back into that moment. I get pretty emotional when I perform. I don’t see me being able to be any other way.
Q: Have fans given you feedback about this album?
A: Oh yeah. I approached a lot of topics most people don’t want to talk about. A lot of people relate to this more than they want to admit. There have been a lot of men and women who have related to many songs on the record.
Q: Do you think men who have public affairs like you did face less criticism than women?
A: It definitely dragged on way more than it should. We moved on years ago. It’s quite amazing to me that men get away with so much more. Not that I wanted to get away with anything. But they come out of it on the other side and it’s almost like it’s forgotten and forgiven.
Q: How is it to see your life played out in tabloids?
A: It’s frustrating at times. I’m trying to look at it from a positive light. People are so interested in me that I sell magazines to them. (Laughs) At the same time, it’s not easy. People do forget you’re human. It’s definitely not what I set out to do as a child. I wanted to sing. That’s all I want to do. I want to make music. It’s an interesting way to live. Having people here in L.A. following us is kind of hard.
Q: You introduce yourself on your Twitter account as human, not as a singer. Why?
A: Because of celebrity and reality shows, people want drama. We have feelings like everybody else. For me, starting out so young, it takes a different meaning. People were always used to seeing me as this voice and it’s almost to remind myself, too. At the end of the day, I live my life day by day like everybody else.
Q: In the notes for “Spitfire,” you describe growing up and feeling like an alien child. Why?
A: Being out in public as a kid, people didn’t see me as a kid. I always felt kind of removed and detached. I had this huge voice and that was what people knew me for. It was a different way to grow. There were moments when I was very uncomfortable in my body growing up in front of the public eye. People put such emphasis on this gift that you have. It felt strange at times. It’s nice to now have gone through the last four years. I don’t feel like that anymore. There used to be this public persona and who I was trying to find as this woman I was. Now I feel the two have melted together and that’s nice.
Q: Did you know what it meant to have success and win a Grammy Award at age 14?
A: I guess what came along with it other than a trophy I didn’t understand at that moment. I was a kid. I didn’t have life experiences yet.
I don’t think I ever got to that place until the last couple of years. It’s taken me a long time to grow up and change into who I defined I wanted to be. With the world watching and telling you who to be, I had to trust myself. This new album and the honesty that’s on it, I’m most proud of that. I don’t think there’s any other way I could be in this moment other than honest and open.