November 23, 2014

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Songstress Rimes provides her own lightning at fair

Country music’s little girl is all grown up. That’s the message the tall and slender LeAnn Rimes delivered to a packed grandstand Wednesday night at the Lorain County Fair in Wellington. Arguably the biggest star performing at the fairgrounds this year, Rimes delivered for her audience time and time again.

The audience witnessed an already big star ascending even higher in her career. For her new album, “Family,” due out Oct. 9, Rimes has added songwriting to her list of talents.

TOM MAHL / CHRONICLE
Country singer LeAnn Rimes performs for a packed crowd Wednesday at the Lorain County Fair in Wellington.

On a warm and humid night, she gave her fans a sneak peek of the tunes from the new disc, opening her set with her current single, the rocking “Nothin’ Better to Do.” Other new tunes included the dysfunctional family inspired title track, her personal serenity prayer “What I Cannot Change,” and the rousing “Good Friend and a Glass of Wine.”

Early on, the vocally strong Rimes delivered the optimistic anthem “Something’s Gotta Give,” although technical difficulties plagued that and another song a few minutes later when a speaker cut out. 

Rimes first emerged on the scene more than a decade ago as a junior-high-aged girl singing the traditional country song “Blue,” but she’s a rocker at heart, which at first seemed to catch the mostly middle-aged crowd of more than 3,000 people off-guard.

It didn’t take long for the slide guitar and mandolin to confirm her Grand Ole Opry standing. Other early tracks included the honky-tonk piano flavored “Big Deal” and the down tempo “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way.”

Naturally, Rimes’ drew the biggest reactions from her slew of hits, including the old-school “Blue” and the soulful “How Do I Live.”

Five days shy of her 25th birthday, Rimes has successfully avoided the celebrity traps that so many young performers, like Britney Spears, seem to fall into as they attempt to mature in the spotlight. In fact, Rimes has achieved a status similar to Faith Hill and
Martina McBride as one of country music’s most bankable stars.

“She’s been around and started out pretty young,” said Susana Fridenstine, 36, of Oberlin. “She has a great voice and a great tonal quality. Plus, she’s a good role model.”

The classic rock-inspired singer also kicked out a jaw-dropping bluesy rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

The audience wasn’t expecting a blues guitar jam, but that’s exactly what they received. Mother Nature provided her own special effects with an impressive heat lightning display in the skies behind the singer.

Rimes’ 70-minute-plus show left fairgoers with plenty of memories, as well as plenty to look forward to in the future from this rising princess (or perhaps already queen) of country music.