Shania Twain will endure forever—at least in our hearts—as the best-selling female singer in country music history and one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
She was known as the “Queen of Country Pop” and in the 1990s, she dominated the world and rose to fame on a global scale.But few are aware of her personal troubles. Before her breakthrough, she was initially a malnourished, impoverished child.
Not to mention how her life drastically changed at the age of 22 when a terrible event compelled her to take on new duties…
Eilleen Regina Edwards, also known as Shania Twain, was born on August 28, 1965, in Windsor, Ontario. Later, when Sharon, the mother of Shania, remarried Jerry Twain, she would change her last name.
Shania never acknowledged her biological father as her father in public because he wasn’t around when she was growing up. Instead, Jerry adopted Shania and her two sisters and raised them on his own.
”My father (Jerry) went out of his way to raise three daughters that weren’t even his. For me to acknowledge another man as my father, a man who was never there for me as a father, who wasn’t the one who struggled every day to put food on our table, would have hurt him terribly,” Shania once said.
All things considered, Shania had a challenging upbringing. She was born and raised in rural Canada’s Timmins, where she experienced extreme poverty. Full-blooded Ojibway Jerry, her stepfather, struggled to support the family and had little money.
Shania and her sisters consequently didn’t always have food on the table. The delicacy known as “goulash”—dry bread with boiled milk and brown sugar—was occasionally the only thing offered. Shania was had to wear bread sacks on her feet during the chilly Canadian winters since her parents couldn’t afford decent boots.
But when she was a little girl, she kept her predicament to herself. If the future Queen of Country Pop spoke out about their struggles, she feared that the authorities would disband the family.
Jerry and Sharon’s marriage experienced some difficulties as well. At one point, Shania persuaded her mother to leave Jerry, and the three of them escaped to a Toronto homeless shelter with their mothers and sisters. But when Shania was 16, her mother reconciled with Jerry, and they made the decision to try again.
Due to the volatility of her childhood home, Shania described how she continued to live in “survivor mode” into her adult years. She didn’t believe she could rely on her parents to take care of her consistently or to protect h
When Shania aged eight, she began singing in bars to help with household expenses. Shania didn’t particularly enjoy performing it because it was a risky move for a young girl. However, she may also make up to $20 per night, providing a much-needed financial boost to her poor family.
“My deepest passion was music and it helped. There were moments when I thought, ‘I hate this.’ I hated going into bars and being with drunks. But I loved the music and so I survived,” she said in Shania Twain: The Biography.
Performing at rural bars and in retirement homes in Canada also helped Shania develop her stage language and explore her talent. Before long, she was ready for a bigger scene.
When she was 13, Shania got to perform on the Tommy Hunter Show, a legendary country music variety show that aired on CBC Television and ran for 27 years. Hosted by Tommy Hunter, known as “Canada’s Country Gentleman,” it gave Shania an excellent opportunity to promote herself as a country singer.
In the mid-1980s, Shania was a struggling singer-songwriter trying to establish herself in the music industry. She had joined her first band, Longshot, as a 16-year-old, but relocated to Toronto when she was 21.
As time went on, more and more people began to discover the talented and beautiful songstress. When famous country singer Mary Bailey saw Shania perform in Sudbury, Ontario, she was stunned.
“I saw this little girl up on stage with a guitar and it absolutely blew me away. She performed Willie Nelson‘s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. Her voice reminded me of Tanya Tucker, it had strength and character, a lot of feeling. She’s a star, she deserves an opportunity,” Bailey, who would later become Shania’s manager, recalled.
“She sang a few songs that she had written, and I thought to myself, this kid is like nineteen years old, where does she get this? This is from a person who’s lived sixty years”.
In 1987, the road was open for Shania, and she had every opportunity to break through as a country artist. Nashville and big money were waiting for her.
Then tragedy struck and changed everything.
On the afternoon of November 1, 1987, Shania’s parents were driving on a remote logging road on their way to a work site.
Unfortunately, they collided with a truck loaded with timber. Both Jerry and Sharon died in the crash, leaving behind two sons and three daughters.
“I feel like I’ve been this tree with good sturdy roots for 30 years, then all of a sudden someone comes along and is trying to cut me down, cut a part me off,” Shania said.
When she heard the news, Shania was devastated. She decided to return to her native Timmins. Instead of focusing on her music career, Shania had to take care of her younger siblings, who were 13, 14, and 18 at the time.
“It was a very, very difficult time. But it was also a turning point in my life that, I think, matured me, brought me up to where I should have been in the first place at that age,” she explained.
She raised them all on her own, making sure they had the assistance they required. Later, Shania made the decision to relocate her entire family to Huntsville, Ontario. She found employment as a vocalist and dancer at the Deerhurst Resort there.
“I was just going to give up music,” Shania said in 1995.
“I thought, my family comes first. I have to take care of them. I didn’t even think of my future…. I’m lucky I got the job at Deerhurst, because it was music. I didn’t know where I was going to go from there.”
Road to stardom
During her time at Deerhurst, the gorgeous singer, with her signature brown hair and beautiful voice, developed her skills as an entertainer.
She attracted the attention of a Mercury Nashville Records executive after creating a demo recording of her song. In 1993, Shania Twain released her self-titled debut album after being welcomed to Nashville. Although it wasn’t a monetary success, reviewers gave it excellent reviews.
One person who really loved what he heard was South African record producer Mutt Lange. In fact, he was so impressed that he reached out to Shania and asked if he could produce and write some songs with her.
They originally met in June 1993 at the Fan Fair in Nashville, where they instantly started collaborating closely and grew close. A year later, the couple were married. Despite the fact that Shania was more than ten years Mutt’s junior, it was obvious that the two would make a perfect fit.
They worked together on several popular songs for Shania’s ensuing albums, The Woman in Me (1995) and Come On Over (1997), which would catapult her to fame.
More than 12 million copies of The Woman in Me were sold in the US by 2007. It was a major hit when it came out, instantly making Shania Twain a household name.
“We just took a stab in the dark, followed our instincts, and it worked out. I think there was something on that album for everybody,” Shania told The News Tribune in 1997.
Typically, Mutt composed the music, and Shania wrote the lyrics. Mutt attempted to incorporate rock-n-roll riffs while producing Come On Over; he had previously worked with AC/DC and Def Leppard.
The result was a mix of country and rock that led to a global musical breakthrough and the sale of 40 million copies worldwide. Many of Shania’s most well-known songs, like “You’re Still The One” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” were included in her 1997 album.
“In my mind, I was just being myself and that was the great thing of all — to just be able to be myself and let my personality come through in the music,” Shania told The Associated Press.
It is fair to assume that “Shaniamania” erupted in America in the late 1990s. Come On Over is currently the ninth best-selling album of all time in the US and the best-selling country album ever.
Shania Twain marriage
On August 12, 2001, Shania and Mutt Lange welcomed a son. They named him Eja (pronounced “Asia”) and, according to the media, Shania delivered her son at a hospital in Switzerland, without any “media fanfare”.
The down-to-earth charm that earned her admiration from all over the world was reflected in her pregnancy. Shania kept things quiet and private – she released no details about Eja when he was born.
A few years later, however, she would be forced to go through a public divorce, one where less flattering details came out in the media.
For many years, Twain’s marriage had been plagued by rumors – some gossip columnists claimed that the couple had huge problems. Shania commented on the rumors in 1997, denying that the couple would divorce.
”Mutt and I are an unlikely pair,” she said.
“There’s been talk in the tabloids that we’re divorcing, but we are very happy. We love each other in every way. We have a great creative relationship and a great personal relationship. We feel as strong as ever – and “Still the One” is sort of my own personal song about marriage.”
In 2008, though, Shania and her husband separated. The reason? Lange had engaged in an affair with Shania’s best friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud.
Shania was, of course, completely heartbroken. She said she cried constantly and took five baths a day. According to the country star, she was ”ready to die”.
“I’ll be honest: when your husband leaves you, and falls into the arms of your close friend, your self-esteem can really suffer,” she said.
Shania and Marie-Anne were really good friends who had first met when the latter was hired as an assistant and interpreter for Mutt Lange. After finding out about the affair, Shania confronted her so-called friend.
”I just told her that she was a bad person – that’s all I could get out!’
‘When I left her, I thought, “You’re such a wimp, you coward!”‘
Shania Twain husband
Soon, things would take another unexpected turn. While trying to cope with her heartbreak, Shania found love again.
In 2011, Shania married businessman Frédéric Thiébaud, Marie-Anne’s former husband. The two bonded over the heartbreak and tied the knot in Puerto Rico in front of 40 people, mostly close friends and family.
“I don’t take any day for granted any more. Fred has give me a new lease on love,” Shania explained.
Shania said she had found “a true friend and a dear gentleman” and that her husband of 10+ years is a true gift to her. When they started dating, Fred surprised her with romantic trips – once he flew her to a Swiss glacier, and once he hired a whole movie theatre just for her.
“It’s twisted. So beautifully twisted,” she said.
“To express my love, words are not enough. I’m more in love with her every day,” Thiebaud added.
Shania Twain today
Shania Twain is a long-time resident of Corseaux, Switzerland, where she resides with her husband. She rarely gives interviews and the Queen of Country Pop is known for being notoriously private.
In recent years, she has released several albums with varying degrees of success. Right now, she’s doing a show in Las Vegas, where she takes “fans on a journey through her award-winning career with the best elements from her iconic videos and visual spectacles of her sold out global tours.”
She has also given the movie business a shot, showing up in a number of films throughout the years. She co-starred with John Travolta in the 2019 film Trading Paint, and in the autobiographical film I Still Believe from 2020, she played the mother of musician Jeremy Camp.
Shania has made a significant impact on popular culture even if she does not currently appear as frequently on the top rankings. She served as a major inspiration for performers like Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood while she was the reigning queen of country music.
“I think we were all definitely influenced by Shania, even if we don’t realize it. (Her music) was so different and kind of revolutionary at the time. She definitely paved the way for a lot of us,” Carrie Underwood told AP in 2016.
Shania Twain on aging
Shania was also very fashion-forward in the way she dressed and presented herself. She was chosen as the most attractive Canadian of 2009 by Hello! magazine’s readers. The country singer has been rather transparent about her tricks for staying young throughout the years. She reportedly practises daily meditation, is a vegetarian, and consumes a lot of raw food.
“A happy heart comes first, then the happy face,” she said.
Shania, now 57, also revealed how she’s dealing with the effects of age.
“I’m pretty insecure about my changing body… I’m letting ‘the girls’ hang loose under my sweat clothes around the house and when someone comes to the door, I cross my arms under them for support,” she mentioned.
“For me personally, I’m sure it’s very different for everybody, but I just started with time. Stepping out of battles that I couldn’t win. I mean, you know, aging is a battle you can’t win,” she said in 2020, in the LadyGang podcast.
“That battle and the focus and energy it takes, is taking up too much space! In my life, my emotional state, my mental state. I’ve got songs to write. I’m not gonna sit around,” said Twain.
Are you also a fan of Shania Twain? I think she’s still gorgeous and more important – a really great woman. Shania is an example for us all. Love and just admire her!
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