In the following year, she released "You Light Up My Life - Inspirational Songs," which debuted simultaneously on three Billboard Magazine charts - pop, country and contemporary Christian - a feat never before achieved by a Country artist. In early 1997 she subsequently released, "The Early Years: Unchained Melody" a compilation of her compelling early work. During this year, she also garnered another massive hit with the release of "How Do I Live," which set a record by remaining No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 chart for 69 weeks. That year also would welcome Rimes' first foray into acting. She starred in the ABC-TV movie, "Holiday In Your Heart" - which aired to public and critical acclaim. The movie was based on a book of the same title, which Rimes co-authored with Tom Carter.
This year was marked with more than stratospheric record sales and exciting new creative ventures for the young, rising star. It was punctuated with numerous prestigious awards including an AmericanMusic Award, two Grammys - including Best New Artist (marking the first time a Country artist ever captured that honor), three Academy of Country Music Awards, a TNN Music City News Award, a CMA Horizon Award, four Billboard Music Awards and the prestigious international honor of the BBC's Rising Star award.
The following year, Rimes recorded and released "Sittin' On Top Of The World," which featured the hit single "Commitment," as well as "Looking Through Your Eyes" from the animated motion picture, "Quest for Camelot."
In 1999, Rimes released a self-titled CD, "LeAnn Rimes," which featured her unique interpretations of 11 Country standards including: "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces," "Leavin' On Your Mind," "Don't Worry" and "Me & Bobby McGee" along with six additional classics and the smash hit single, "Big Deal."
Another highlight of 1999 for Rimes was performing "Written in the Stars," a duet with Elton John from his Aida album, on the "People's Choice Awards," "The Tonight Show," "Late Night with David Letterman" and the "Today Show." She also served as "Good Morning America's" celebrity host for the American Music Awards in January. In addition, she appeared on ABC-TV's "Hot 21" special, a television version of Teen People's article on the same subject. Her television appearances continued with the Today Show's concert series, MTV's "FANatic," VH1's "All Access" and VH1's "Divas Live."
In November of 1999, she traveled to Europe to present a special Thanksgiving Day concert for the Pope. The Pope bestowed an official blessing upon her in recognition of her "God-given talent."
Rimes finally took a short break in early 2000 from her strenuous recording, performing, touring and acting schedule. However, she couldn't stay under the radar for too long, and a new Rimes soon emerged. Appearing on "The Tonight Show" to perform "I Need You," which she recorded for the soundtrack for the television miniseries "Jesus," Rimes stunned the nation with her dramatic transformation.
Rested, reinvigorated and fit from a new workout regime, Rimes clearly was no longer the little girl from Garland with the big voice. She was a sleek, cosmopolitan young lady with an incredible gift for performing and one of the most spectacular voices in the business. Off and running into the new millennium, she served as host for TNN's "Class of 2000," and made her major motion picture acting debut in "Coyote Ugly."
Not only does Rimes appear in a surprise cameo in the film, but she also recorded four Diane Warren songs (including the infectious first single, "Can't Fight the Moonlight") for the movie soundtrack released on Curb Records.
Her songs and albums have surpassed the multi-platinum mark with a deftness that is usually reserved for seasoned veterans and her voice has a youthful maturity to it that lends a beauteous tone and melody to her work.|12/5/04|***