By Bob Cannon
Updated February 28, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

After a detour into pop, LeAnn Rimes, 22, is returning to her toroh and twang. Her new CD, This Woman, hit No. 2 on Billboard’s country chart in its debut week, and she’s the third-season host of the country-music talent search Nashville Star, which premieres March 1 at 10 p.m. on the USA Network.

Who’s more talented: Nashville Stars or American Idols?

I think the [Nashville Star] talent is always better . . . The show is wonderful because [contestants] sing with a live band, most play their own instruments, and all of them write their own music. So there’s an overall artist behind it, instead of just a face — and hopefully a voice.

What do you recall about being on Star Search when you were 8?

I won the first time, but the second time they messed up my music! I cried when I walked off, and lost. But my godmother told me she’d take me to Disneyland, so I wiped my tears and said, ”Let’s go!”

Any advice for contestants?

Pick songs that you feel comfortable singing. Don’t try to sing out of your range. No talking bad about people, which I’m sure will happen. And no catfights!