updated 11/08/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/08/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST
At 14, as the youngest recording star ever to win a Best New Artist Grammy, she was being compared to the late great Patsy Cline. But the teen prodigy soon grew restless. "Even though I loved country music," says Rimes, "I felt like I was in this box where I could only do one thing." Breaking out, she experimented with rock, blues and electronic disco music. Despite mixed reviews at home, she has gained fans abroad ("They know every single word to my songs in Taiwan," she says. "It is mind-boggling"). Now 24, Rimes is back in Nashville, wowing her old admirers. Her single "Something's Gotta Give" climbed to No. 2 on the country charts in June, and she's working on a new CD that has, she says, "a country feel." But Rimes insists she's still creating "my own sound. I've come into my own as a woman," she says. She and her husband of four years, dancer-songwriter Dean Sheremet, 25, share a sprawling French Colonial with seven dogs and two cats. "We do normal things," she says. Like clean house together. "Dean taught me," she says. "I love pulling warm clothes out of the dryer." The couple are also building a dream house in the neighborhood. Rimes's top priority? "Bigger closets!" she says, laughing. And, someday, a bigger family. An only child, Rimes says she'd like one or two of her own. "We'll see," she quips, "how I handle the first one."