Shania Twain And The Future

shania twain

Shania Twain is a much- loved female vocalist in the music industry.

A recently released documentary on Netflix, Not Just A Girl, saw her in London while she was putting together her sixth album.

Covid 19 and its aftermath

During an interview she discusses one of the songs on the new album called ‘What you gonna do with that air’. Despite the fact that it is an upbeat tune, the impetus for the song came from a darker place. Twain says “It’s about the anxiety of running out of air. I had a very bad bout with Covid, with Covid pneumonia, and it was very touch-and-go. I was feeling like, oh my God, I just have to breathe.” It was particularly scary for her because she had gone through something similar with breathing issues in the past.

In 2003, when she was at the peak of her singing career, she contracted Lyme disease when she was bitten by a tick. This caused serious nerve damage to her vocal cords and prevented her from singing for nearly a decade. She underwent throat surgery to repair the damage and in 2012 was able to begin singing again which she did with a Las Vegas residency, one of two.

Following Covid, Twain released ‘What you gonna do with that air.’ And when asked about the future Twain says “The Super Bowl would be a great one. That’s a good target. I just need to think about which songs.”

Twain, now 57 years old, has now finished her Las Vegas residency and she plans to go on tour.

Growing up in Windsor, Canada, Twain had a difficult childhood as her parents were unable to afford basic amenities including food and she experienced “the humiliation of going to school dirty because we didn’t have water.” Twain says “It took a lot of mental management to keep your chin up and function without letting it shut you down.” Not having money for very basic things, and we are not talking about things like playing at a mobile casino, can really get you down!
Twain also experienced violence in her home growing up with her mother’s second husband. She says “Thank God for music, because I was literally able to escape my reality.” She goes on to say “I started to see my guitar as a teddy bear. Even now, if there’s a guitar in the room, I want to sit and hold it. I don’t need to do anything with it, it’s just kind of like a blankie.”

Getting onto the music ladder

As a child her talent became more and more apparent. Her mother would get her out of bed in the middle of the night and push her on stage at local clubs.
She was slowly becoming known but her real ambition was to be a back- up singer for Stevie Wonder. She says “I didn’t have any desire to be in the front. I always had terrible stage fright.” Fate would intervene when at 21 her mother and stepfather were killed in a car accident. She had no choice but to begin singing in a local resort in order to support her siblings who were younger than her.

She finally made it to Nashville and a recording contract. She says “By the time I made it to Nashville, I was like, OK, this doesn’t scare me. I’m not afraid of a few sexist men. I made it through my childhood and the rest was a lot easier.”

She did get a quite a lot of flak from some musicians. For example, Steve Earle said she was “the highest paid lap-dancer in Nashville.” But she ultimately triumphed, becoming one of only a few artists able to make a “crossover”, combining both country melodies and rock music.

By now she was married to her then husband, Robert “Mutt” Lange who was a producer of AC/DC’s Back in Black and Def Leppard’s Hysteria.

In 1995 they put out their first album together. ‘The Woman in Me’ saw platinum 12 times over. Then came ‘Come on Over’ in 1997 which sold over 40 million copies. This was in large part due to the song ‘You’re Still the One’, and ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’. This still remains the world’s best-selling album by a female artist. Twain says “I’ve been accused of changing the sound of country music forever. But I’ve also been accused of ruining country. I’ve been accused of a lot of things.”

Twain does receive a lot of criticism. But her songs are not filled with anger or vengeance. When speaking of women, with songs like “I feel Like a Woman” the lyrics are positive and uplifting. She says “There’s no point in being angry. It doesn’t get us anywhere. Every man that I see singing Man! ‘I Feel Like a Woman! is doing it in a good spirit, because that was my intention. This is not a man’s world and it’s not a woman’s world. This is our world and we have to share it respectfully. But I will stand up for myself and I will tell you if I feel you’ve crossed the line.”

At the time when her singing career had, seemingly ended, when she contracted Lyme disease her marriage to Lange also fell apart. It ended in divorce when Lange had an affair with Twain’s best friend. They divorced in 2008. Later, in an unusual twist, Twain would marry the former husband of that best friend.

In 2017 Twain released an album which reflected a lot of those feelings. She sang on the ballad I’m Alright’ – “I tried to scream/But silence haunted/Me in my sleep/Oh, and probably always will”.

Her next album promises to be more optimistic. She says “With the pandemic, I just really wanted to cheer myself up. As we all know, it was a very stifling and crippling emotional and mental exercise that endured for months and months and months. So, I was like, I just want to be happy! And to me, that was writing happy songs and playing with words again.”

The album has not yet got a release date but Waking up Dreaming, the first single, has already gone straight to BBC Radio 2’s playlist.


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