After winning the Fox competition as Sun, the "Throw My Arms Around the World” singer tells PEOPLE: "People are connecting with me the most on my humanity"

By Dana Rose Falcone
December 17, 2020 08:00 AM
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Sun; LeAnn Rimes
| Credit: Michael Becker/FOX; Paul Archuleta/Getty

This post contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer.

LeAnn Rimes shined bright as Sun on The Masked Singer season 4. On Wednesday night, she beat out fellow finalists Mushroom (Aloe Blacc) and Crocodile (Nick Carter) to win it all and take home the Golden Mask trophy.

Judges Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke identified Rimes, 38, as a frontrunner early on and she stunned throughout the season with unexpected twists on hit songs from Billie Eilish, Kesha and Lizzo. Her final performance of Brandi Carlile's "The Story" meant something extra special to the two-time Grammy winner.

"That song has always been connected to my husband," she tells PEOPLE of Eddie Cibrian. "There's something about that song is this beautiful love story. And so someone who has been there with me through everything and still loves me, I think that's what we all want in a relationship."

LeAnn Rimes performing as Sun on The Masked Singer
| Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

The Wholly Human podcast host recognizes that Masked Singer viewers might know her from her teenage country days, her pop era, or the years of headlines that resulted from her marriage to Cibrian, 47. But under the Sun costume, Rimes could be anyone she wanted to be.

"I think that gets ingrained into people's minds of who they think you are," says Rimes, who will host a Christmas concert livestream via Looped on Saturday. "This was a way for people to not have this preconceived idea or storyline that was connected to who they think I am. And just truly feel my essence and authenticity. It felt like the perfect, synchronistic reset."

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Below, the "Throw My Arms Around the World” singer dives deeper into her unexpectedly emotional Masked Singer journey, why she made her unique song choices and how a fan almost gave away her identity on YouTube.

How did it feel to win after being so vulnerable on the show all season?

I didn't expect such an emotional journey from The Masked Singer. The whole show surprised me. I had only seen clips of the show before I signed on to do it, and I didn't expect the emotion and creativity. There was truly a deep thought process that went into being the Sun and creating the Sun, and the songs that I was performing. So it felt fantastic to win after the rollercoaster of being a part of all of that creativity.

Was it an added challenge to sing in the costume?

The costume is heavy and as a singer, I have to have my airway open to be able to perform these songs, especially the ones that I chose. We adjusted the costume like a gazillion times to make sure I had what I needed to be able to perform. But even still, the weight of everything was heavy. I would go home every night and I would be so sore, but it was such a fun challenge. It was unlike anything else I've ever done or probably ever will ever do again, so I truly enjoyed it. The costume I chose was very specific because I really feel like it connects with the messaging and music that I'm bringing out into the world, the messaging of hope and possibility and love that's coming through my Chant album at this moment.

What went into your song selection process?

On the show, they don't like people to repeat songs. So a lot of the songs that I originally went for had been performed before. So I was like, "Okay, I got to figure this out." I've covered so many songs and we put them on YouTube, or I've done them live. The Billie Eilish cover, we put on YouTube and we took it down for this whole time so people couldn't go back and reference it. And unfortunately, I did the Lizzo thing — I was so sure no one had a video of that, because we'd never posted one. I did it on Insta Live one time. A fan, I guess, recorded that with their phone and that's how that got up on YouTube. I was like, "Damn it!"

But I really went through the process of picking things that I felt that people [didn't expect]. For me, they're not out of my wheelhouse at all. I don't think anything is, unless it's like heavy metal or maybe some hardcore rap. I just have no boundaries with music. That's really what I wanted to convey with the song choices, is totally no boundaries, doing something different every time I went on stage.

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Eddie appeared undercover in one of your clue packages. Was he the only one who knew you were doing the show?

He and my manager were the only two that knew I was doing the show. I got texts all the time from my mom, from my friends: "We know it's you." I'm like, "Well, of course you do. If you don't know it's me, then we're not really friends and you're not really my family." For my mom, I just go, "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Eddie mentioned on the show that you've been taking a lot of RV trips. Have you been enjoying being able to vacation that way amid the pandemic?

We definitely have utilized our RV. Thank God we've had one and have gone into nature a lot during this time. We've been very fortunate in that way, being able to have a rolling home. I don't think I've ever been in one place this much in my whole life, which is kind of crazy, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Aside from everything that's going on, it's been nice to have a moment of being at home. So I have taken advantage of it.

LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian
| Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Jenny and Nicole guessed your identity based on your Northern Lights and Blue clues, but which projects do you get recognized for most these days?

I haven't been out in public much where people come up to me in the last year because I've had a mask on. If anything, people come up to me and talk to me about my healing journey. More so than ever, they're talking to me about my bravery and coming out with, whether it be my stress, photos or talking about mental health or whatever it may be. People are connecting with me the most on my humanity. For most celebrities, there's this piece that people forget that they're human. Especially starting so young, that was pushed to the wayside for a long time. It's like my humanity was forgotten about, and now to be in connection so deeply within myself, for people to connect with me on that level has been so powerful.

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Next year marks 25 years as a recording artist, 10 years of marriage to Eddie, and you're releasing a new album. What would your dream celebration be?

I'm such a nature girl. My husband and I go up to Mammoth a lot, and if I can be amongst the trees and with some beautiful — I love Christmas lights — if I could be amongst the trees with some beautifully strung lights and my friends and family around, and maybe a good bottle of wine, I think that would be a great celebration. I think we might have to make that happen. That sounds really good.

The Masked Singer will return for season 5 in spring 2021.