Leann Rimes Talks Child Stardom: 'I Would 'Not' Recommend It to Anyone'

"It's my path, so I've accepted it," Rimes tells PEOPLE of growing up in the spotlight

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Photo: Steven Sebring

When it comes to her career trajectory, LeAnn Rimes has no regrets.

“I would not recommend it to anyone, but it’s my path, so I’ve accepted it and learned from it,” the singer says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “I can really appreciate it at this point — all of it.”

Now 34 years old, Rimes has been in showbiz for more than 20 years, rising to fame at the age of 13 with her cover of the Bill Mack song “Blue.” In 1997, she made history, becoming both the youngest-ever Grammy winner, as well as the first-ever country star to take home the Best New Artist title.

Since emerging onto the music scene two decades ago, Rimes has also fueled headlines with an assortment of legal battles, breakups, and her marriage to actor Eddie Cibrian, 43. She’s channeled her ups and downs on her 16th studio album, Remnants, out now.

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“It’s about allowing yourself to fall apart, picking up the pieces, moving forward and building yourself in a way that’s solid, which I’ve gone through,” Rimes says of the album’s inspiration. “It was healing.”

Something else Rimes received flak for growing up was her crossover from country to pop (and back again).

“It’s so weird, being 34, it’s like I’m still so young, and then I have these 20 years behind me,” says the singer, whose latest LP spans genres.

  • For more on LeAnn Rimes, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

“When I started crossing over, it was very taboo. You just didn’t do that. Country then really thought that you were running away from them and they were gonna disown you — which happened! I guess now, the lines are very blurred, which is great. I’m so happy for artists, period, that they get to just do whatever,” Rimes adds.

“I don’t see boundaries in music. Those lines have always been erased for me. But, especially as a child, how do you expect a kid to grow up and not express themselves and change? I guess they did. But that wasn’t going to happen. I guess I’ve always been a bit of an outsider and a rebel in that way of, ‘I’m going to sing music I love to sing.’ But this place where I’m in now, I feel very settled; it feels really good.”

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