Interview: LeAnn Rimes discusses her Hallmark Channel debut, details holiday tour and teases new music

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas thanks to LeAnn Rimes. The multi-platinum selling, two-time Grammy Award-winning artist, is set to make her Hallmark Channel debut on Nov. 10 in “It’s Christmas, Eve.” Rimes stars as Eve Morgan, an interim school superintendent who returns to her hometown hoping to save the day. Her mission is to turn the local high school music department around in order to keep it from getting shut down.  

“She comes upon a lot of setbacks super quick,” Rimes tells AXS about her character. “There are a lot of different things she didn’t realize she was going to be stumbling upon that dredge up all of these emotions for her and she actually has to face them. I think we can all relate to that in a lot of ways.”

With this film, Hallmark allowed Rimes the room to shed light on the stories she wanted to tell in a positive way; her focus being on blended families and the importance of music in schools. It's a feel-good holiday feature that is bound to pull at every viewer’s heartstrings. “There’s real emotion that happens in this film and that was what I was most proud of,” Rimes said about the special.

The singer-songwriter also makes her debut as executive producer, as well as having co-written and produced three songs on the soundtrack. “You and Me and Christmas,” “It’s Christmas Eve,” and “The Gift of Your Love.” This actually marks the first time Rimes has done something like that specifically for a movie. The first track penned was “It’s Christmas Eve,” which the artist says just fell right out of her mouth. She described its creation as “one of those magical blessings” that ended up kicking off the entire project.

“You and Me and Christmas” is like ear candy, while “The Gift of Your Love,” in classic LeAnn Rimes style, evokes a whirlwind of emotion that perfectly sets the tone for the holiday season. “The music is really a great addition to the film,” she explained. “What I love is that when you take the music out of the film, the songs stand on their own. It was really important for us to just write great songs.”

With four holiday albums already under her belt and jokes of a “LeAnn’s Christmas with the Symphony” album in the future, Rimes continues to expand in different ways to add to her Yuletide message. Along with getting ready to make her Hallmark Channel debut, she’s also currently preparing to embark on her 6th Annual Christmas Tour. “I’ve always felt like my shows were pretty intimate, especially the last several years, but I think that’s just a place where I’m at with myself – being really open and authentic on stage,” Rimes shared with AXS. “I want to bring the crowd into that and have them experience that with me on this tour. So, we’re going to be playing around with a little more audience participation, which will be really fun.”

Outside of Christmas music, the country-pop superstar says that a new album is also in the works and should begin around March of 2019. The singer spoke on where she’s at in the process. “I’ve kind of been sitting in the space of the unknown, which used to be incredibly uncomfortable, but it’s actually fun now [thinking] what’s going to inspire me for the next record,” she revealed about her upcoming project.

Rimes’ last EP, Re-Imagined, earned her widespread praise. The concept was to put a unique spin on some of her classic songs. It included hits such as “Borrowed,” which came in the form of a duet with Stevie Nicks. “Instead of – here’s me at 14 – and here’s me at 15 – I wanted everything to feel like one cohesive thought,” she said about the album. “So, we sat down at my house one day and started reimagining things; playing with different tempos. Dreaming them up as though I had gotten these songs and they were brand-new. How would I do them now? It was definitely an aha moment for me. I’ve been singing them for so long, it felt like something else opened up and I could see them in a different light. It felt really good to be able to create around these songs in a completely different way.”

In the future, Rimes says that she’s open to more experimentation. “I try not to put myself in a box. This world, and especially in music, we love to put labels on things. I’ve always been one who feels uncomfortable with being labeled. I just love creating. For me, it’s really about staying inspired and open. I think that way you become unlimited in what you’re able to create. It’s nice to kind of take a step back and allow something to surprise you.”

For now, fans can hang their Santa hats on the singer’s annual Christmas cheer. “The holidays have always been my favorite time of year,” the Grammy-winner added. “I think there’s an energetic shift that happens. People are just a little more open and receptive. And they come in that way to the show. We all are a little bit open. We seem to be a lot more giving. I’ve always said this, and I think it’s true, if we could only take that energy and the open hearts we seem to have around this time, and create that feeling throughout the year, it would be a whole different world.”

You can catch LeAnn Rimes starring opposite of Tyler Hynes, with Eden Summer Gilmore, in her Hallmark Channel debut on Saturday, Nov. 10. “It's Christmas, Eve” airs at 8 p.m. / 7c. For links to the soundtrack, tour dates, and more, you can visit the singer’s website.