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Review: NSO Pops: LeAnn Rimes at The Kennedy Center

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International multi-platinum selling acclaimed singer and ASCAP award-winning songwriter LeAnn Rimes returned to DC Friday night, joining the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) at The Kennedy Center Concert Hall to showcase vibrant rearrangements of her chart-topping hits, as well as to introduce new material from her newest album, Remnants.

Following a sprightly, 30-minute opening set by The Bumper Jacksons (who were hailed the region’s 2015 “Artist of the Year” and “Best Folk Band” from 2013-2015 at the Washington Area Music Awards), Rimes sauntered on stage, dazzlingly donning a simple, but stunning, floor-length black dress with two stylish side slits, fabulously adorned with a brass-finished Gucci belt.

LeAnn Rimes. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Led by Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and Conductor Emil De Cou for the NSO’s 87th season, Rimes earnestly opened her 14-song set with her first breakthrough single, “Blue,” which catapulted her career more than 20 years ago when she was just 13. The song skyrocketed her to a pair of Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance, as well as ACM Awards for Top New Female Vocalist and Single of the Year. “Blue” was also recently voted by Country Music Television as one of the Top 100 Country Songs of All Time.

“Hello, DC!”  roared Rimes.

“We love you!” an audience member bellowed back.

“I love you, too!” Rimes appreciatively responded.

Throughout her 80-minute show, Rimes intermittently interacted with the adoring crowd, as she took sips of water between songs, accentuating her warm, congenial and down-to-earth personality. Rimes immediately disclosed that she was feeling especially emotional but quickly redirected her heart-felt energy to moving interpretations of familial fan favorites such as “How Do I Live” (which she sang with a pronounced higher-pitch and slowed-down pace without any orchestral accompaniment), “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)”, “Crazy”, and “Borrowed”.

Rimes also revealed that she had a complicated relationship with her mother growing up but since becoming a stepmom, she has developed a better perspective of what parenting entails and has healed with the composition of her new stirring song, “Mother” that she sang with rich vocal depth and impassioned range.

Midway through the concert, as Rimes got more acquainted with the audience, she broke out of the formality of the show, putting her hair up in a pony-tail and cut loose with a relaxed segue to “Spitfire” and later, closing with an spirited rendering of “Can’t Fight the Moonlight”, which was uniquely uplifted with the illustrious instruments of the NSO.

After receiving a hearty standing ovation and returning for an encore, Rimes capped the evening with a gorgeously renewed rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Summertime” with a bluesy blend that demonstrated her ability to continually reinvent and evolve through the test of time.

Running Time:  Approximately 80 minutes, with no intermission.

LeAnn Rimes performed on April 28, 2017, at The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information on upcoming shows, go to their calendar of events.

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