LeAnn Rimes sees one big benefit from living through the past five tumultuous years: It has given her plenty to write about.
Rimes, who will perform Saturday, July 19, in Hallandale Beach, says her recent life experiences informed her latest album, 2013's "Spitfire." The songs express feelings she didn't even know she had until she began writing them.
"My shows now are more like sitting in my living room, and I feel really connected with my audience more than I have," she says in a phone interview.
Rimes is long removed from the child who had a hit with "Blue" at age 13. Now 31, she has become a tabloid staple. She and actor Eddie Cibrian, from "CSI: Miami," fell for each other in 2009 while working on a made-for-TV Lifetime movie. They were married to other people at the time, and later divorced their spouses.
Supermarket magazines have claimed the couple has an ongoing feud with Cibrian's ex-wife, Brandi Glanville, of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" fame. Although Rimes has said she regrets the way she handled her relationship with Cibrian, she's no doubt smitten with him. Nonetheless, Glanville still takes plenty of shots at Cibrian and Rimes on her show.
In 2012, Rimes checked in to a stress rehabilitation center, and has worked through her problems to the point that she and Cibrian are starring in "LeAnn and Eddie," a reality show that debuted Thursday on VH1. Rimes calls the show "a comedy," and says it's the couple's attempt to counter the negative tabloid coverage of their affair.
Her performance this weekend at Mardi Gras Casino will include songs from "Spitfire," but also such hits as "How Do I Live." Rimes has released 13 singles that reached the Billboard Country Top 10, and sold more than 40 million records.
"My live performances can be more off-the-cuff now," she says. "I have a set list, but I may not follow it."
The singer says she's also energized by the end of a record deal that she had been committed to since she was 11.
"I can now basically do anything," she says. "I think I just always want to make great music. I'm sure it'll change here and there. I feel like I come from an organic place."
That openness has helped her cope with online criticism, including the accusation that she's a social media addict.
"They said I needed to go to Twee-hab," she jokes.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 19
Where: Mardi Gras Casino, 831 N. Federal Highway, Hallandale Beach