No. 28: LeAnn Rimes – Country’s Most Powerful Women of All Time
Those who didn’t live it may find it difficult to understand the excitement around then 14-year-old LeAnn Rimes when she debuted with “Blue.” The teen star turned international country-pop star checks in at No. 28 on this list of country’s most powerful female singers.
It takes more than one great song (and several awards wins) to earn a spot on the ToC list of most powerful country women, but Rimes’ debut goes a long way toward her inclusion. It was arguably not her biggest radio hit, as “One Way Ticket” would become her first country chart-topper later that year. But much like Gretchen Wilson in 2004 and Taylor Swift in 2006, this song was everywhere, nearly overnight. It ultimately would lead to a win in the Female Vocalist of the Year category at the ACM Awards.
Other country music hits for Rimes include “Commitment,” “I Need You” and “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense.” A trio of songs from the underrated Family album brought her last taste of radio airplay. Rimes made great albums but embraced pop music so quickly that country fans never got a chance to truly call her their own. Her version of “How Do I Live” was a pop hit that country radio spurned. The same thing would happen a few years later with “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” but by 2000 her window had mostly closed.
This undoubtedly affected her credibility in Nashville. Her life became tabloid fodder early, which blinded many to her powerful voice and music. It still does! For a few years in the late ’90s, little girls wanted to be her. Longevity as a dedicated Nashville artist would surely have catapulted her up this list of country music’s most powerful women but instead, she remains somewhat genreless by choice.
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