HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Putting her traumatic childhood behind her, LeAnn Rimes welcomes you into her magnificent house - and shares her dreams of children and a long country music career.

Tex, a Giant German Shepherd, is the official greeter at the front door of LeAnn Rimes' elegant two-story Nashville home. It's soon clear that Tex's intimidating body is wrapped around a kind canine heart. His curious cold nose is the giveaway.

"Tex is so sweet," notes LeAnn standing in the foyer. "He goes with us on the road sometimes. He puts his nose on the person in the bus' lower bunk and playfully tries to roust 'em out - so he can have his own bunk."

LeAnn and her actor/dancer husband Dean Sheremet have carved out their own space and a new life in Music City - in a home selected because it will work well for the children they plan to have and for the three Pomeranians, two Chihuahuas, one Boston terrier, one German shepherd and four cats they already have. The house sits on three acres, with a tree-lined creek and wooden bridge in the backyard.

"Moving to Nashville has been amazing," declares LeAnn, who was born in Mississippi and grew up in Texas. "We've been here a little over a year and a half. We love it. The people are wonderful. I really liked L.A., but I never felt completely at home there. Now I feel like I am home."

LeAnn, 22, moved home to the South after a few years in California, where she experimented with pop music and even put out a pop album, Twisted Angel. None of the songs resonated with country radio, and there was even talk that the gal who set country music on its ear when she was 13 with the Grammy-winning "Blue" - and followed up with the No. 1 "One Way Ticket (Because I Can)," "Commitment," "Big Deal" and other hits - had abandoned her core fans. Along the way, she sued her record label and her manager/record producer dad Wilbur for taking too much of her money (both suits were settled), weathered the 1997 divorce of her dad and mom Belinda, and she had songs on the pop/rock soundtrack for the movie Coyote Ugly. Some people wondered if LeAnn had "gone Hollywood" and if she would ever be able to find her way back to her country roots.

But, baby, she is back - big time!

Her decision to say goodbye to L.A. and head to Nashville was the first step in her return to country. Next came successful concert tours in the U.S. and Europe, and she closed out 2004 with a 12-city "symphonic Christmas" tour in America. Then there were appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, last year's Christmas CD and a new hit single "Nothin' 'Bout Love Makes Sense" from her dead-on country album This Woman, due out Jan. 25. And, as a capper, she'll now host the nationally televised country music talent show Nashville Star, premiering in March.

To read more about LeAnn Rimes' comeback, pick up the new Country Weekly on newsstands today!

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