SHANIA TWAIN ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS PAGE 6
Brian Mansfield, USA Today, Feb 1999
Think Shania Twain and you think videos.
There's the black-clad splash-dancer of 'Dont Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)', the denim-vested farm girl of 'Any Man of Mine', the blond predator of 'That Dont Impress Me Much'. The clip for her biggest hit, 'You're Still the One', acknowledges her status as a music-video icon. Throughout the black-and-white fantasy she appears on a television screen — a video image.
But guess what?
"I hate being in videos," says Twain, who's released 18 of them during her three-album career, averaging a new one every three months since 1995. "But I love directing them, and I love being in the editing suite, that whole side of it."
For Twain, the exceptionally photogenic Ontario native who's nominated in six Grammy categories, the allure of the camera pales next to the rush of live performance.
"Every other aspect of my career I see as something that takes me away from what I enjoy the most, which is the stage and the songwriting," she says.
So Twain, 33, felt much more comfortable making her forthcoming television special, ' Shania Twain's Winter Break', which airs March 3 on CBS. "Basically, it's a live concert in an amphitheater setting," Twain says. The bulk of the show comes from two days of performances taped last month in Miami's Bayfront Park.
Also appearing on 'Winter Break' are the Backstreet Boys, who join her for 'From This Moment On', and Elton John, who pairs with Twain for a medley of 'Youre Still the One' and his 'Something About the Way You Look Tonight'. Twain also performs 'Amneris Letter', a number she sings on a forthcoming album of songs from John's 'Aida' musical, written with 'Evita' lyricist Tim Rice.
Twain's invitation to sing on 'Aida' came after a chance meeting with John at a radio station.
"We ran into each other in the hallway," Twain says. "He started singing 'You're Still the One' to me, right off the bat. I was so flattered that he knew who I was and that he knew my song.
"He called me up not long after and asked if I'd be interested in singing a song on this project he was putting together for 'Aida'. I said sure. I was just so taken by our meeting that I was thrilled to be asked."
While Twain may be new enough at the superstar game to be excited by John's imprimatur, her recent achievements place her in a rarified stratum. The eight-times-platinum success of 'Come on Over' makes her one of only three female singers (Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey are the others) to have two albums each pass the 8 million mark. Twain's breakthrough second album, 'The Woman in Me', has shipped 11 million units.
She has silenced doubters of her singing abilities with a tour that grossed million last year, putting her practically neck-and-neck with Garth Brooks. Her six Grammy nominations, five of which she shares with husband and collaborator Robert John "Mutt" Lange, make her country's most-nominated performer. Never before has a country singer received nominations in the Grammys' top three categories - Record, Song and Album of the Year.
For Twain, a woman who feeds off the heady thrill of possibility, having all those nominations just might be better than finding out if she's won.
"The most exciting time is from the time they're announced until the actual show," says Twain, who won the 1995 Grammy for Best Country Album for 'The Woman in Me'. "Winning is exciting, if you win, but that's not as long-lasting. It's kind of over."
Twain's success and business savvy have made her a singular force in Nashville's music industry. She even played a role in keeping Mercury Nashville, for which she records, separate from MCA Nashville during the recent Universal Music Group consolidation.
"If it hadn't been for her, there's no telling what would've happened," acknowledges Mercury Nashville president Luke Lewis. "If we hadn't had that success, they might've been inclined to do with Nashville what they did in New York and L.A. and combine the labels."
Twain's country power base may be strong, but it isn't broad. Despite her sales and Grammy recognition, she has yet to win an award from the Nashville-based Country Music Association. Some believe the oversight has less to do with her crossover appeal than with her lack of ties to the town's publishing community.
Since Twain and Lange write and produce all her material, "there hasn't been anybody here sharing in the success financially," says Lewis. "Prior to last year, there were no agents, no promoters, nobody getting a piece. That might have a little bit to do with how some people cast their votes for country music awards."
Still, she has her admirers.
"In today's environment, with the possessive attitude that radio formats take about artists, it's difficult to cross yourself over into multiple formats and continue to be successful where you started," notes CMA executive director Ed Benson. "We'd be better off as an industry if we had more people who could straddle formats. That's really the future for us."
The future for Twain includes returning from an Australian tour Friday, then playing the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo - Feb. 22, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno - Feb. 23 and the Grammys the following night. She'll play Canada in March, then in May, June and early July will perform in U.S. cities where ticket demand was highest first time around.
"It's just something of a victory lap," says Ron Baird, Twain's agent at Creative Artists Agency.
After that, she's looking forward to spending some time with Lange. Between her touring schedule and his production chores for the Backstreet Boys and others, the two often spend as much as eight weeks apart.
"It's very difficult right now," Twain says. "We've decided it's a sacrifice that we're making for the meantime, so we don't see each other hardly at all."
When the tour ends, around the Fourth of July, Twain and Lange plan to retreat to a recently purchased home near Geneva, Switzerland. They own a second home north of Miami and an estate in upstate New York they're trying to sell.
After taking the rest of July off, she hopes to start writing her next album with Lange. Though Twain keeps a notebook of ideas, she and Lange don't write during their occasional times together.
"We have to be together for more than one week to really get writing," Twain says. "It's impossible not to see each other for a whole month then get together for five or six days and expect to write anything."
She expects to start recording her next album around the end of the year, though she's considering making a Christmas record before then. The possibilities are endless — she'd like to write songs for other artists, she wants to direct videos, she might eventually even try her hand at books.
"I'd love that," she says, "to just be the creative person and not be the person in front of the camera. I would get so much more pleasure.
"I feel like a politician sometimes, because you walk out the door and you wave and smile.
"When that ends, I'm going to be fine with that. I'm not going to be somebody who wants to hold on to my fame for the rest of my life."
||SHANIA - LIVE DOWN UNDER
By Ron CEO, February 1999
Shania Twain slipped quietly into Brisbane Airport yesterday, leaving many to think that she was arriving a day later. Shania said "I came to Brisbane early so that I could enjoy some time here". This is Shania's fourth trip to Australia. Shania decided to take some time out and take a stroll in the City Botanic Gardens with sister Carrie Ann and a friend!!. (Shania is pictured above, with thanks to Nathan (Sunday Mail) for being in the right place at just the right time).
Brisbane will of course see Shania perform to a sell-out audience of 12,000 plus at the Entertainment Center on Tuesday the 9th February. I spoke with JD Blair (Shania's drummer) just prior to him catching the flight here. J.D. was still packing actually!!. He described Australia as God's Country, and was very glad to be visiting us Down Under. As for her current success, Shania stated that her career had exceeded all her expectations so far.
Shania also wanted to help the needy children, and has donated scores of concert tickets to the Salvation army, so that they can raise funds to feed the needy. Shania sends her love to all her fans around the globe. Especially those Down Under!!.
Shania In Brisbane - Report by Ron CEO
Image courtesy of John at the Newcastle Herald
Shania Twain's Australian concert debut, rocked Brisbane tonight (Tuesday February 9), despite weather conditions that would have made for a week of bad hair days. Access was only by train tonight from the Gold Coast as the Highway was closed in several key places both North and South of the Entertainment Center. This was one concert, where being in-doors was a definite necessity. News is that the rain will continue for a few more days yet.
Pure TALENT and Shania Twain class, is the only true way to describe a concert that will stay with me forever. Shania opened the show with "Man I Feel Like A Woman", then Honey I'm Home, showing all the finesse of the true performer that has made her a household name. Tonight Shania certainly silenced any would be critic.
The audience involvement continued as usual of her trademark, and Shania was soon right at home with the Brisbane audience. Several of Shania's on-stage guests, from the audience were extremely glad to be meeting with her, although very shy of singing. The audience were made so welcome, and the concert had a warm/friendly feel from the moment Shania stepped on stage.
The band sampled Australian Candy (On-stage), Kit Kat's may now become a favorite of Shania's. Randall decided Twisties (like Cheeto's) suited his taste. Cory tried Minties.
There were quite a few people celebrating their birthday's in the audience, so Shania sang an impromptu "Happy Birthday" especially for the occasion. Audio was crystal clear, and the audience extremely appreciative. A standing ovation for "From This Moment On" being their reply. The concert while expected to be 2 hours, ended up as 3. Shania truly clearly enjoyed herself tonight. I spoke with several people, who had come from ALL over Queensland and even interstate to see Shania play "Live". All were very satisfied.
The Australian Concert series now moves on to Newcastle New South Wales. All Australian venues are totally sold out. Gary Chapman stated "Concert Event Of The Year". After twenty years experience of reviewing concerts from around the globe, Shania Twain "These Are Concert Events Of The Millenium".
Shania In Newcastle - Report by Ron CEO
Shania Twain rocked Newcastle with all her might and gave the greatest concert performance that I (Ron C.E.O.) HAVE EVER SEEN. The venue was much smaller around 6,000 plus, however Newcastle rocked, and the audience was just so appreciative.
Shania talked with the audience in depth, and made it perfectly clear that she was having the time of her life as well. I held Shania's hand from the stage as she sang, and ALSO had the pleasure of chatting with Brent. Really nice person.
Shania gave me her cap that she wore and used on stage. She handed it to me personally. I have never felt so welcome at a concert ever before as I did in Newcastle. The band had several friends in the audience.
Shania shot the Hey Hey filmclip here. She mimed to "That Don't Impress Me Much" after she sang it LIVE first. The filmcrew then shot the filmclip for Hey Hey which included an interview backstage as well.
Shania In Sydney - Report by Ron CEO
Sydney First Concert: Not good as the air conditioning appeared to have failed. Shania was forced to rush the songs, and did little talking to the audience. It was not Shania's fault, but the venue should have been much better prepared. One person gave Shania an illuminating rose.
Sydney Second Concert: This was much better. Shania had been out cruising on Sydney harbour just prior to this concert. Shania had a really good look around Sydney. Just a note that Cory got stung by a jellyfish just before the first concert. A couple of the other members went swimming as well.
Shania In Adelaide - Report by Neil VIP #100
The band members arrived in town yesterday and spent last night go-carting at Cartmania. A great time was had by all and Brent Barcus was quick to point out that he was the winner of the 1st place trophy.
Well it is now Tuesday Feb 16th and Adelaide is preparing for the concert event of the year. We had experienced sweltering weather for the last week but fortunately today it is a very reasonable 24 degrees celsius and fine.
A small group of 3 or 4 people (including me Neil) waited outside the Stamford Plaza Hotel from around 2.30 P.M. in eager anticipation of Shania's arrival into town. Shortly after 3 P.M. The 2 Toyota Tarago's pulled into the front of the hotel. I was holding a poster welcoming Shania back to Adelaide on behalf of the Fan Club and identifying myself as A VIP Member. Shania took a good look at the poster as she pulled in.
Shania got out of the van, wearing sunglasses and dressed in T-Shirt and trousers and signed autographs for those that requested them and posed for a photo with one of the fans. I spoke briefly to her, identifying myself and the fan club, welcoming her back to Adelaide and passing on the love and best wishes of Ron and all fans. I mentioned that I would be front row for tonights concert and all Shania said was "I hope you enjoy the show". She then disappeared into the hotel.
We are now at the Entertainment Centre and you can not move for people. I have never seen such a crowd for concerts in Adelaide. The support act, an Australian aboriginal performer Leah Purcell, was warmly recieved by the Adelaide audience.
At the interval, security approached every person in the front row and instructed us that under no circumstances were we to stand during the performance. As there was just a small space between the front row and stage, they felt that people behind us would not be able to see.
At 8.50 P.M. a very familiar voice boomed through the P.A. - "ARE YOU READY ADELAIDE". The crowd went absolutely wild and Shania came out and said "Everybody On Your Feet!!". Not one person was sitting as she got into "Man I Feel Like A Woman". At the end of the song some people thought they were going to sit down, at which Shania bellowed - "If we have to stand - you have to stand!!". Throughout the songs that followed, Shania and the band recieved raptuous applause and yells. She took flowers and gifts on stage and brought up a number of people to sing with her.
There was a tremendous surprise when the last girl came on stage and Shania asked her what she wanted to sing. The reply was "Any Celine Dion song" - The crowd errupted. Shania was very good about it and warmly congratulated this girl after a wonderful, but brief performance.
When it came time for Shania to introduce the wonderful band members, it came as no surprise that the girls favourite was none other than fiddler/guitarist Cory Churko. However the best total response was given for Adelaide bass player Andy Cichon.
Shania explained to the crowd how important childrens charities are to her, and that her charity of choice in Australia was the Salvation Army. A local high school choir joined the band on-stage for "God Bless The Child". Shania was on On-Stage for just over two hours, and the Adelaide audience (normally considered conservative by many standards) savoured and raptuously enjoyed every second of the show. In the city that for ten years hosted the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix - Shania had once again "CREATED THUNDER DOWNUNDER!!".
As the concert ended the band members sent guitar picks flying into the audience for souvenirs. "The GROOVE Regulator", super cool dude - drummer J.D. Blair also sent his drumstick into the audience, and guess who caught one!!!. I am now the owner of a very battered VIC FIRTH - AMERICAN CUSTOM JD1 jr drumstick.
The night however did not end when the concert ended. A group of about 7 girls and a couple of guys (myself included) went back to the Stamford Plaza hoping to catch Shania and the bands' return to the hotel.
After a while the first van pulled in, carrying Roddy, J.D., Alison and Cory. Roddy and J.D. disappeared straight into the hotel without stopping to talk to anybody, however as I am known to Cory I walked up to him, introduced myself and said it was great to finally meet him. I also introduced myself to Alison and the pair of them were so generous and wonderful, spending about 20 minutes talking to us all and signing autographs. I spent a good amount of time talking talking to them about the fan club and they both were interested to find out more about the sickness and passing of my mother last week which they were both previously aware of. We wished them both goodnight and thanks.
Andy Cichon was the next to arrive being driven by local friends/family, stopped briefly to sign a couple of autographs and left again.
The assembled locals were were most disapointed to see Shania's van disappear straight into a side street and into a locked underground garage. We did not see her again.
As the last band members arrived, all but one disappeared straight into the hotel. Brent Barcus chatted to the girls for about 15 minutes before going upstairs to retire for the night.
All in all, one of the most memorable experiences that Adelaide has had for some time.
Shania In Melbourne - Report by Ron CEO
Shania and band were simply brilliant on their last night of the Australian Tour. Our very own Ed VIP#22 ensuring that Shania and her band had a good supply of chocolate for the evening, which the band especially Randall truly enjoyed.
Shania thanked Australian audiences for their kind support, and said that she was made very welcome.
The evening was extremely high energy packed, and as Ed and I were FRONT ROW we were very much hyped up by all that was happening only inches away. Each band member came up very close, and everyone acknowledged me from the stage. Shania walking over, and giving me a wave/smile just shortly after walking on-stage. Shania is clearly a brilliant performer, but her band are also absolutely wonderful artists in their own right. I am very grateful to Alison Cornell for making me feel very welcome. I of course can't thank the guitarists (all you guys) enough for really rocking with us. I will keep the guitar picks as a faithful reminder of the last concert.
All in all, Shania and her band really rocked. I am so sad that it is all over.
| GIRLS AND GUITARS
BBC Radio 2 Interview, January 7, 1999
Mindy : Welcome to the fifth program in the series, Girls and Guitars, which celebrates the new bread of talented women in the U.S. I'm Mindy McReede. In the last program we hear from Paula Cole. Tonight we turn our attention to an artist whose meteoritic rise to fame belies a professional singing career, which began as a child. To look at her list of achievements you would be forgiven for thinking that Shania Twain was a veteran, not someone in the middle of her first world tour.
Shania : I started singing at such a young age, I was performing professionally from the age of eight years old, in clubs and things like that and, I did a lot of things, I did community centres, old age homes, senior citizen homes, that sort of thing. And television and Radio and that sort of thing locally and the fairs, as far as, not really fairs, I mean in Canada we call them, it's more like festivals. So yeah I was very, very busy as a child artist. And I started writing music from the age of 10 years old. And I was performing that when ever I got the chance to fit it in. I think from my parents recognising this in me at the age of three by the time I was eight, I mean that's a five year period. So of course, it was, although I was only eight and still quite young it had still been a five year period of them nurturing this slowly, so even that didn't happen over night by the time I was eight, I was already quite developed I think. So my career's been active from such a young age, I feel old some times when I look at my career. I feel like, even thought to the industry and every thing I'm a new artist. I'm not a new artist, I mean I've been doing this for so long now, (laughs) that sometimes I'm tired almost. It's almost like a bittersweet thing.
Mindy : It was her parents who encouraged her to persue a career in music after recognising that she wasn't just singing but that she was exploring harmonies and tone. Of course performing at clubs every night means Shania missed a lot of school and a normal childhood.
Shania : When I look back now I think yes I could have enjoyed my teen years much, much more. But at the time you could have never told me that because I was so passionate about music that that's all I cared about. I threw myself into music. All I wanted to be was in band practise or writing songs or singing, I mean this is all I wanted to do. Not necessarily be a performer. I loved being in the basement with the band, I loved writing music and that sort of thing but I didn't care to be the front person, as a matter of fact I didn't like it at all. I really had to grow into that, I took me a very long time. But music itself could consume me every hour of the day and I would have been content with that, not realising what I was missing by not socialising with the other kids because most of the time the people I was playing with musician wise were much older. They weren't in school, they were adults and I was either a kid or a teenager. And so I did miss out I think a lot in that since, but I don't regret it.
Mindy : It's true to say that music was both a passion and an obsession for Shania. It was certainly something she preferred to indulge in, in private. To watch her perform no, Supremely confident and polished, It's hard to believe those early insecurities are still with her and remain something to be worked at.
Shania : I've never liked performing to people I know directly. It's a funny, funny thing. For instance my mother would always say you know "What have you been writing lately. Can I hear something? What have you been doing in there all these hours? " And I would never play her my music. Very rarely would I let here hear something. Unless I felt it was completely finished or something like that. And I'm not really sure why I was so guarded about that sort of thing. When I warm up vocally I have to make sure there's nobody around or I just can not relax, I can't do it. So I'm not sure, I'm very inhibited really about it. I've always had a real shyness and lack of confidence I think, in my self musically and it's very strange that. I mean when it comes to stage I've learned to jump into another skin or something like that to be able to do it. But when it comes to something intimate like to just sit down and sing something to someone, it's very awkward for me and I've never been comfortable with it. I've never been comfortable being to front person. My dream as a child was to be Steve Wonder's backup singer. That's all I wanted to be. And I would have been so happy just to have that because I would have loved it musically and I would have room to just be creative and not be squeezed by the pressure. I find you not as creative when you have the pressure. I'm a very natural person. If I'm squeezed into anything I can't deal with it and that's why I find television very difficult. Live television because there's no room for me to ad-lib, there's no room for me to communicate with the audience, there's no room for me to stop if I want to, there's no freedom. And it really freaks me out. And when I was younger I was actually better than television than I am now because I wasn't as aware of how contrived it really was. I mean there was even one time on television, I think I was eight years old, where I did actually stop the song, I stopped the band. It didn't register what was happening, I didn't understand that, you know I was in everybody's living room and that we were on live television. I couldn't conceive that so I wasn't afraid of it.
Mindy : Shania continued to work to clubs but when her parents died in a car crash she ploughed her energies into raising her brothers. When to left home she sold up and sent a demo to a friend in Nashville. She had a deal within a month but it wasn't what she was expecting. The record company made her change her name, originally Eileen, and got her to sing other people's music. Shania went along with it but couldn't wait to break free. When she finally did it was more beneficial then she could have ever known.
Shania : Well the fact that I was never embraced by the country industry as much as maybe I would have wanted to at the time which has probably given me more freedom now because they can't claim me. They can't claim me as someone they made. They aren't responsible for my success, which probably in the end, does gives me the freedom to do what I want because I always have done and thats why they don't particularly have the respect for me that perhaps they have for other artists. So I think there's some truth to that and I guess being independent creatively and given my independence all the way round and in the long run which is, yes really wonderful. Yet because the fans have nothing to do with it I don't have to change my fans, I mean the fans remain the same, and the fans, thank goodness are unaffected by what the industry thinks. And so the country fans you know, we can remain the way we are. We don't have to change our relationship. I don't have to change what I give them musically or reinvent myself. So we can keep our relationship and I can just have a bigger audience and add to that with people who, yeah, are just pop listeners or listeners from who knows where. I mean whoever happens to like the music. And there is a sense of freedom and independence that I'm enjoying very much.
Mindy : Her second album, her own work sold 13 million copies and catapulted her into the worlds conciousness. A double-edged sword perhaps. The public clearly loved her but Nashville hated her for betraying country music traditions and they criticised her for not playing live. The critics have been sceptical about he insistence that her music is more than country. All the artists so far in this series have stressed the importance of blurring musical boundaries. Shania is no exception.
Shania : Its very important. My musical influences and really my musical style for many, many years has been such a mix really from R&B to Pop to Rock to country. And literally I could go from doing a Dolly Parton song to doing something by, I don't know, Elton John and all in the same breath, and feel very comfortable. So it always makes me feel really, really good to know that the listeners can relate to that and there not thrown of by the contrasts that exists in my music, because even on just one album of mine, there's such a change from one song to the next in a lot of cases. So I wouldn't want to drop any of the sounds that influence my music and my song writing just for the sake of pleasing one genre. I can't do that. I would be bored first of all because I need the variety in my sound and secondly its not desire to please and one specific person or genre or to fit into any specific label. I don't really care to do that. I have to make to music and release it and where ever it lands is where it lands. What else can I say? Things have to be labelled for the sake of marketing I mean that's just the way the world turns. We all have to be labelled somehow. So I'm not saying I'm against that but I'm one of those listeners as a fan who listens to so many types of music that I don't care what style of music it is. I either like it or I don't. So I try to make music that relates to as many people as possible. Or that as many people as possible can relate to. And call it what you like. So what I'm saying is that the name is irrelevant. The title or the label is irrelevant. People need to understand that nowadays a lot of different sounds fall within the label of country music. I just hope the industry isn't so naïve to think so narrowly about what country music is.
Mindy : In such a male dominated industry its hard not to be persuaded to tow the line, creative integrity is probably the quality most prised by the artists in this series. For Shania, her marriage to the hugely successful Robert John "Mutt" Lange has given her extra strength.
Shania : There's always interference, it never ends. Interference left, right and centre. Everybody has a different vision and they all express it. But it does help because being able to work together for him and I of cause because we have our own vision musically, he completely respects where I'm coming from and its so much easier to be free and uninhibited with somebody that you are that comfortable with. You know, knowing his background and understanding where he comes from and what he knows and now working with him and understanding for myself. I have such a great respect for him. It's a matter of trust. I trust him completely.
Mindy : The melting pot of influences constantly referred to in these programs is partly responsible for the recent explosion of female artists. By incorporating different styles, larger audiences have been reached but such wide scale success has to be down to more that that. For Shania, the rise of female musicians' matches the success women are achieving in other fields. And she's happy to be a part of a new generation with new ideals.
Shania : It's really hard to say. I think in general (I'm really generalising now) there's been a particularly high amount of females coming out of Canada, which is where I'm from. But I think in general, not just in North America but in many places today, women are excelling in so many different fields. Music is just no exception. Entertainment is no exception. So you're seeing more women rise to the surface in careers that ten years ago would be very unusual. Perhaps surgeons and politics, whatever, in sports. A lot of things were really ten or twenty years ago, I mean ten years ago really would have been considered a mans world. Now you see al these women just rising to the top. Sometimes more women then men. So what I have to say about it is within the music industry it is just following suit really. I think that I come from a generation where maybe parents took their little girls as seriously about their careers as they took their little boys. You see there was a time when a lot of parents would not have considered their daughters dreams, career wise, as really that serious. You know, "Oh my daughter's going to grow up and marry someone with a good job". You know this was more the thinking. So now my generation has parents who really, I think, raised girls with independence in mind and education and all of those things. And we've now grown up to be independent and do our own thing and this is I think why we are the way we are. Like I said music is no exception. Of course there's always obstacles. We're not all the way there yet. We still of course, as women do have to struggle at times. But this has really only changed over the last ten years. So it's quite new.
|SHANIA WANTS TO COME ON OVER
Rick Overall, Sept 10, 1997
Certainly everyone who loves Twain's sound - and at last count there were 12 million of them - is dying to find out what her upcoming CD, Come On Over, will be like.
She gave us a mini-review.
"People will find that it's very upbeat with lots of variety, The music goes from very traditional country to very pop country.
And I don't believe it will be what you're expecting."
Twain finds it a little hard to believe that she has now surpassed all other female country singers with respect to total sales of a single CD, The Woman In Me, and her special achievement award presented to her by the CCMA celebrating her success.
But she said that coming out of the studio to receive the honor shook her back to the reality of a career that was continuing onward and upward.
"This is such good timing for me because I've been in the studio for several months now and when doing that you kind of forget that there's a career out there because you're working hard and you forget about everything else.
"This award served to wake me up a little bit and I'm very excited about it."
Twain says that the creation of a new CD brings with it a whole new set of circumstances.
"There's so much music on this album that it's a little difficult to make decisions including what to call it.
"There's so much information to consider. Things like the title, what should be the first single.
"We played around with this title and I just think Come On Over sounds inviting. It's one of the title songs and it's one of my top favorites on the album - I just love the song to death."
Twain also revealed the news that she's teamed up with one of the hottest young male singers in the business to record what sounds like a duet made in chart heaven.
"I recorded a song with Bryan White and its called From This Moment On.
"I'm also very proud of the song because I think it's one of the best songs I've written.."
During her recent time recording Twain has been able to think a little about what all the success means.
"We've had a chance to look back and it's just really something. All the records we've sold internationally totally blows my mind.
"There are so many artists out there and everyone is working hard. So naturally, having this much success is really fantastic.
"It's made me realize that I'm not sure if I can expect this a second time around because its really difficult to achieve so I'm not really sure if it'll happen again.."
And when she's not pondering past or future success, Twain has another passion.
Horseback riding is my great passion.
"Other than that I continue writing music or spend a lot of time by the lake listening to the beautiful birds sing - just like the loon on the award I was presented."
With all her success and celebrity it's also occurred to Twain that because of recent events she needed to think a little about the state of society around her.
"I'm feeling really heavy in my heart about Princess Diana and I think now we should all be more realistic about what the roles are of celebrities in society.
This was especially evident when talking about her relationship with the media and what that means to everyone involved.
"It's between myself and you (the media) what perceptions are given and I believe that it's very important that we respect each other and act in a professional manner and not misquote each other and say stupid things."
| SHANIA HAS MESSAGE FOR YOUNG GIRLS
Friday, October 3, 1997
Nashville, Tenn. (AP) - It's great to be a girl, says country singer Shania Twain.
As an idol of young American women, the Canadian singer preaches her own brand of feminism. In her videos and songs, Twain keeps making the point that a beautiful woman can be strong and smart.
"I spent my whole teen-age life flattening my breasts, wearing triple shirts, always worried about those things," Twain said in a telephone interview to promote her new album, "Come on Over," set for release Nov. 4.
"Teen-age girls, they need to learn to grow up confident about these new things that are growing on their chests. It's very important that girls grow up with a sense of confidence about the fact that they're women."
Twain, 32, has overcome her inhibitions. Her videos showcase her curvaceous body as she insists on being treated with deference ("Any Man of Mine") and makes it clear she knows the way to the door if she doesn't get it ("I'm Out of Here").
With a sound that combines classic rock with elements of country, Twain sold more than 12 million copies of her second album, "The Woman in Me."
"They were just so NOT typically commercial country," she said of the songs on 'The Woman in Me.' They were unpredictable, they had a very funky attitude and a sense of humor that I love to play with. And they were a little bit daring, quite daring for country music at the time."
Twain says the success gave her confidence while working on the follow-up.
"You just pick up on what works on the last album, and then you go forward with it," Twain said. "You've sort of been given a ticket to go forward with that kind of stuff."
Sonically, that means more of the supersonic fiddles recorded like guitars on a rock album, courtesy of Twain's producer and husband Mutt Lange. Lange, who has made hits with Def Leppard and Bryan Adams, also co-wrote with Twain new songs that continue to promote strong women. They include:
- "Black Eyes, Blue Tears," about a woman leaving a violent relationship. "This is more about the positive side of it - a woman looking over her shoulder and saying, 'Wow, this feels great, wonderful, I never have to experience that again,' " Twain said.
- "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" cheerleads for the gender. "It's just celebrating how fun it is to be a woman," Twain said. "We have this sense of freedom that, almost, men don't have any more. It's kind of weird what this liberation has done to us and for us."
-"If You Want to Touch Her, Ask." Said Twain: "It's about controlling yourself and taking a sensitive approach and a more respectful approach, and then that's what you'll get in return."
Twain says "If You Want to Touch Her, Ask" is her kind of feminism: getting a point across without losing her sense of humor or femininity.
"I think a lot of what's being stripped from us these days is the fact that we need to be more masculine to fit in in the world," Twain said. "And that pressure is not coming from men. That pressure is coming from women.
"Not everybody has to go out there and downplay their femininity or their sensuality to be taken seriously."
|SHANIA TWAINS LEARNING CURVES
Anika Van Wyk, Calgary Sun, Nov 2, 1997
There is little debate - Shania Twain is the sexiest woman in country music. Men drool when she sports her midriff-baring outfits and there are few women who wouldn't trade bodies with her.
Yet the sexiest (and best-selling) female country artist of all time doesn't think her body is perfect and only in the past few years has she stopped hiding under layers of baggy clothes.
"I'm still not able to walk down the beach without a beach wrap - I don't think I'll ever be able to. It's kinda dumb," Twain tells the Sun over the telephone.
Her new CD, Come on Over, hits stores on Tuesday. And she's coming to Calgary for a Sun-sponsored autograph session Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Southcentre.
While entertaining, Twain can be relaxed about her body image. Out of the spotlight, it's not so easy.
"We only hear about people having a hard time accepting their body if they feel there is something wrong with it. The reality is we all have things about our bodies that we don't like."
But, Shania, you definitely have a body to be proud of!
"I wish people wouldn't think that way," Twain insists.
"Women have to start thinking more together. They don't realize there are a lot of women out there that even though they think she looks perfect, the woman doesn't think she is."
As a teen in Timmins, Ont., Twain had a difficult time adjusting to her maturing body.
"I developed very young and I was very much into sports. So now I wasn't just running on the football team as one of the guys; I was running on the football team bouncing! They weren't seeing me as part of the team; they were seeing me as a girl and I didn't like that."
To become one of the guys again, Twain began a habit she is only now breaking.
"I started wearing layers of clothing," Twain relates.
The extra attention from her male friends escalated.
"Guys at that age, as you know, do tend to cross that line.
"They might grab your butt - they're not thinking - they're being impulsive," she says.
"And that stuff really made me withdraw from wanting to be a girl."
Twain has found a unique way to deal with the memories of those awkward years.
She turned the subject into a song on her new album, Come On Over.
"That's where "If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask!" comes in. I wanted to make songs in which the subject matter comes from a deeper place, but I wanted the songs to be entertaining.
"My message to teens or women pertaining to this subject is if you used to wear a T-shirt before you got a chest, you still should wear a T-shirt. And don't stop doing things because you're afraid of bouncing. That's you - you're going to bounce.
"Don't think a woman with an A-cup can walk around in a T-shirt and a woman with a C-cup can't. That's ridiculous."
Music finally enabled the petite singer to accept her body.
She was in a visual career and she had to think that way.
"I forced myself to accept it. I thought if I'm going to move the way I like to move. I'm not going to do it in a potato sack," Twain recalls.
"I wanted to be proud of how I look and the way I move and I wanted to be visually interesting."
Luckily, as Twain grew older, her body equalled out.
"I was heavy chested as a teen - much more than I am now.
"The best thing that ever, ever happened to me was that I lost some of that in growing.
"I'm so happy I did, but I hate myself for saying that because what if I hadn't? Would I be hiding them all over again? I think that's the wrong attitude for women to take."
Twain's attitude is all right when it comes to keeping in touch with her fans.
Despite being Canada's biggest country superstar and outselling Patsy Cline with her last album The Woman In Me (1995), she's excited about meeting her Calgary fans.
"I'm excited to get out there and introduce the album," she admits.
"I've deprived myself of that (fan contact) because I haven't toured, so these are things I look forward to."
Twain doesn't even mind that she'll probably be asked the same questions over and over again.
"That's OK - everyone deserves their own answers," she says.
One of the most popular questions will no doubt be when will Twain tour. The answer: Twain plans to kick off a major tour in May.
Calgary is on the itinerary.
| TWAIN'S READY TO HIT HIGHWAY
Anika Van Wyk, The Calgary Sun, Nov 8, 1997
The question that likely will be asked most frequently at today's Sun-sponsored autograph session:
"Why haven't you toured yet and when are you going to do a concert here?"
The Sun asked the Canadian superstar that question in a phone interview last week.
"We're planning to be on the road," says Twain, who'll be signing autographs from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Southcentre.
"And Canada will be a big part of the tour. It's not like it's going to be at the end."
With the recent release of her third album, Come On Over, Twain now feels she has enough material to headline a show.
"I'm getting so ready. Now I have enough songs to do a proper-length show with original material. You can't be a headlining act and get up and do only six songs.
"That was my goal. I didn't want to go on the road and do cover songs.
"If I do a cover song, it's going to be for a specific reason and it's not because I didn't have anything else to say."
Twain and her husband, Robert (Mutt) Lange, have lots to say - all 16 songs on Come On Over and all 12 songs on The Woman In Me were written by the pair.
"I never wanted to be in the position of having to fill the gaps.
"As a songwriter, that would have been too insulting to me," explains Twain.
Several rumors have circulated regarding the reasons Twain has not toured.
It's even been suggested that Canada's queen of country is following in the footsteps of Canada's queen of pop, Celine Dion, and isn't touring because she wants to get pregnant.
"My goodness, no," Twain says with a giggle. "That's something I'm trying to avoid at the moment because I obviously have big plans to tour. So it's on the contrary."
But that's not to say it's not in the future plans for the talented couple.
"Perhaps, at one point that will happen, but not at the moment," says Twain.
A cruel rumor suggests that Twain hasn't toured because she can't sing live.
Not only has Twain performed at numerous award shows, but she also toured to support her first album, Shania Twain.
In 1993 she shared a tour bill with John Brannen and Toby Keith. Last month, Keith told Sun Country that he was impressed with what he saw Twain do on stage.
"I thought she was very talented and she's great onstage. But what surprised me later was that she was such a good writer," Keith recalled.
"She has a great stage presence.... She'll probably be into the Janet Jackson (dancing) thing."
Twain was flattered by Keith's compliments and predictions.
"I think that's sweet of him to say, but he's a little bit off the mark," says Twain.
"I don't want a show that's over-produced."
There won't be a lot of choreographed dancing or other glossy touches when Twain takes the spotlight.
"There will be great lights, excellent sound and a band that's animated and the live arrangements of the songs will be a big part of the dynamics of the show.
"But it won't be as slick as a Janet Jackson show."
No Calgary dates for Twain's tour have been confirmed, but we are definitely on the list. The tour is likely to kick off in May in the U.S.
|SHANIAMANIA IN CALGARY
Anika Van Wyk, Calgary Sun, Nov 9, 1997
Fans may think Shania Twain is No. 1 but yesterday, Twain treated her fans like they were the superstars.
Twain was truly amazing at the Sun-sponsored autograph session at Southcentre as she just kept going and going - nearly an hour more than her scheduled three hours.
Going overtime was not the only time Twain went above and beyond the call of duty for the more than 27,000 fans who jammed into the mall.
Several times, she bravely ventured into the frenzied crowd to meet with fans in wheelchairs.
Several of Calgary's finest police officers were on hand to protect her, but she had them on the run as she plunged into the crowd.
Nothing seemed to take the shine out of Twain's beautiful smile - not even hours and hours of signing her name on everything from pyjama tops, guitars, jean jackets, CD jackets, Sun posters, as well as cowboy boots and hats.
One of the most touching moments of the event was when the Canadian superstar bent down to hug a mentally and physically challenged fan and he would not stop embracing her.
Instead of panicking as many would, Twain just gently told the the young man that everything was all right and kept her arms around him.
When he finally let her go, Twain patted his head lovingly and said a few more words of encouragement, before moving on to the next fan.
And when asked to wave to some fans not in the autograph line who were trying to get a photo, Twain marched to the front of the stage and climbed on top of a speaker so everyone, including people at the back of the centre court area, could get a good look the absolutely stunning singer/songwriter, who was dressed in black pants, matching crop-shirt and baby blue jacket.
And yes, when she waved, that famous belly-button was visible to all!
Twain al so took the time to remove babies from their strollers to give them a hug and posed for photos.
In fact, Twain proved to have a real way with the thousands of children who came to get her autograph.
While many of the children were little chatterboxes leading up their meeting with Twain, many were left speechless or were moved to tears when they actually got to meet their idol.
However, it didn't take the personable Twain long to get them talking and all left with huge smiles.
The sight of Twain even had grown men shaking as they stood beside the petite singer while she put her arm around them for a photograph.
Twain was also showered with a wide variety of gifts. There was a huge pile of flowers - roses were the flowers of choice.
There were also hundreds of drawings and lots of stuffed animals.
Some of the more unique gifts included a trophy with a miniature guitar, an impressive wood-burned picture of Shania and a sweet Popsicle-stick building labelled Shania Twain's barn.
This reporter was just helping organize fan photos, which was exhausting enough, but when the scheduled end of the autograph session came near and hundreds of fans remained in line, Twain - who didn't take any breaks - wouldn't let them down.
She promised to stay until everyone got their autograph - though management did stop photos and personalized signings.
Everyone was amazed by the star's dedication and her outstanding attitude.
"I can't believe she signed so many things," said one of the mall's friendly staff members.
And while everyone sighed with relief when the public meet-and-greet finally came to an end, Twain, who didn't look any worse for wear, went backstage and met with more fans, contest winners and industry representatives.
She was scheduled to fly out of Calgary last night.
She'll meet with Toronto media today to further promote her third and latest recording, Come On Over, but she is not scheduled to meet fans there.
Yesterday's event is the only autograph session Twain had planned for Canada. It was also co-sponsored by CMT and Country 105 FM.
And though the second video off her new album is not set to hit airwaves until mid-month, the fans at Southcentre were treated to a sneak preview of the clip for Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You).
"I've had a great time," Twain said as she prepared to leave the mall.
| SHANIA SHEDS INHIBITIONS
Jane Stevenson, Toronto Sun, November 11/97
Twain talks about her breasts, her belly and her music, too
A conversation with comely Canadian country music queen Shania Twain about her breasts is probably most men's idea of a good time.
But in this case, the Timmins native with the most talked-about midriff in music today is explaining the "empowered female" theme on her week-old third album, Come On Over. Song titles on the release, which Twain co-wrote with her husband, rock producer Mutt Lange, include Man! I Feel Like A Woman! and If You Wanna Touch Her, Ask!
"I'm singing about the things I'm singing about because I really feel like it's time for me, anyway, to stop being so inhibited," said Twain, 32, in town yesterday.
"I know people think, 'Well, she's not very inhibited, she bares her midriff.' It's like, 'Well, big deal. I bare my midriff. That's really sexual.' I think when it comes to the lyrics, it's more based on, 'Look, if I'm a C-cup I should still be able to wear a T-shirt the same way that a girl with an A-cup does.' "
Twain -- drop-dead gorgeous at 9 o' clock in the morning (there's a makeup artist hovering nearby) and quietly sexy in a purple velvet blazer, black leather pants and high heels -- eventually gets to the point.
"I used to be very insecure about having large breasts," she said. "When I was younger I was very overdeveloped, I would say. And I used to wear layers, I would never wear a bathing suit. I was very insecure about the whole thing because guys stare at your breasts all the time. So now I've decided, 'You know what, no. I'm going to feel comfortable with my breasts.' If they want to look at me as a sex object, that's fine, but that's not going to make me go crawl into the corner."
Still, Twain, who begins rehearsals in January for her first headlining world tour next spring (expect a mix of arenas, amphitheatres and smaller theatres, with a Toronto date early on) is not comfortable showing off her body.
"I'm very conservative. I am the last person you'll see in a string bikini on the beach. Forget it! I'm not a Baywatch girl."
I interject at this point that if the perfectly-shaped Twain's not comfortable enough, then we're all doomed.
"It's not a good thing that I feel that way," she explained. "I think those things are instilled from teenage years."
Twain, the second-oldest of five siblings orphaned when their parents were killed in a car crash 11 years ago, has certainly come a long way. She got her start singing as a teenager in community centres, senior citizens homes and even bars after the liquor curfew went into effect.
But despite her 1995 breakthrough, The Woman In Me, which sold 12 million copies worldwide and became the best-selling record in history by a female country artist, there was criticism when she didn't tour.
"I was expecting it to a degree," said Twain. "But I didn't expect people to just disregard the fact that I had been singing live my whole life. I just got to the point where I thought, 'I'm not even going to worry about defending myself.' I'll just wait 'til the time comes and then everybody will just see it's second nature to me to be out on stage."
What isn't second nature are TV appearances. Twain, who is due to appear on Regis And Kathie Lee on Thursday, arrived in Toronto after a reserved performance of her second single, Don't Be Stupid, on Jay Leno last Friday night.
"That's all very new to me and a little awkward, I have to say," said Twain, who watched a tape of herself afterwards. "I hate watching myself. I'm just definitely not my best. I'm a perfectionist, and if I can't do my best, I'm very disappointed. And that (TV) is an environment where I just do not do my best. Maybe in time I will."
Twain launched Come On Over last Tuesday with an autograph signing in Minneapolis that drew 20,000 people. A similar event in Calgary on Saturday saw 27,000 fans in attendance.
Despite the fan feedback and the first single, Love Gets Me Every Time, currently at No. 1 on country music singles charts in Canada and the U.S., Twain doesn't expect Come On Over to do as well as The Woman In Me.
"The goal for me for this album was not necessarily to make a bigger album, it was to make a better album," said Twain. "And I think I've done that."
|NOT JUST ANOTHER PRETTY FACE
Bob Millard, BMI Music World, winter 1997
While Shania Twain's sophisticated, sexy videos for tunes such as "Any Man Of Mine" drew fire from purists, there is more to the 31-year-old Canadian singer than meets the eye.
There is something to be said for second chances.
While Shania Twain's eponymous debut album made few waves in 1993, her second - The Woman In Me - teed off to become the biggest selling album recorded by a female country music artist. A brash, catchy mix of rock and country sounds and pop attitudes, boasting more hooks than a Mississippi River trotline, by the end of 1996 it had sold more than eight million copies for Mercury Records.
What made the difference? One change was the influence of internationally renowned producer Mutt Lange, whom Twain married half-way through his collaboration with her on the second CD. The critical difference, though, was contained in the Billboard magazine headline "Twain Writes Her Way To Stardom On Mercury Set." Twain had cut none of her own tunes on the first album, and almost no one else's on the second.
"It wasn't really me," she says now. "I don't hate the album, but I'm better singing songs I write. . . I write my own music and I prefer it that way."
Songs make a difference.
While Twain's sophisticated, sexy videos for tunes such as "Any Man Of Mine" drew fire from purists objecting to John and Bo Derek's "10"-style visual imaging of Twain, there is more to the 31-year-old Canadian singer than meets the eye. Besides the key ingredient of an instantly identifiable voice, Twain brings stellar songwriting instincts to her collaboration with Lange, who penned 10 songs on the album with Twain and one by himself. Reading song credits on her first album, you'd think she wasn't a writer at all, but she had been performing everything from Dolly Parton country to George Gershwin, plus writing original tunes from a very tender age. "Because I started writing music so young - I was only 10 - as a songwriter I wanted to draw from everything," Twain explains.
Despite being personally more interested in the Carpenters, Twain was heavily influenced by the country music played constantly around her parents' Timmons, Ontario house. As a result her first tunes, as she puts it, "were country-ish."
"But I was listening to Stevie Wonder; I listened to the Bee Gees; to classical; to everything," she continues. "So I really wanted to draw from everything, but country was all my parents ever knew . . . so I was a little country girl with this huge guitar that was bigger than I was. My whole repertoire was country. . . [And] it was a serious career for me. My parents were managing me as if I was a child professional. My mother explained it by saying I had to get some stage presence. They'd create dialogue for me. That's my dues paying."
Her repertoire of hits is what 15 years ago was known as "crossover." That's too small a word for the Shania Twain phenomenon, though. She doesn't just leak over from one format to the other - she demolishes the fences separating them. She stands tall in both, as indicated by her twin pop and country BMI citations for "Any Man Of Mine" for 1995. She earned her third citation for one of BMI's most performed country songs of 1995 for "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here."
The most important fan of Twain's modestly successful first album was Mutt Lange, who loved the voice long before he even met the singer. Their collaboration was crucial to bringing out Twain's delightful pop-country sensibility. Coming from a rock records background with production clients including Def Leppard, AC/DC and the Cars, Lange was unencumbered by fear of country radio's oft-voiced preference for sound-alike artists to fit specific demographics. Still, it wasn't Lange only who put the pop in Twain's music.
"People think the pop stuff is coming from Mutt," she says. "But what they don't understand is that almost the opposite is true. His real love as a listener is country. He'd like the whole thing to be steel and fiddle. I grew up singing country, and I need to draw from other musics just for inspiration. So when I get a chance to branch out in another direction, I take it."
The story of their connection is the stuff of show business mythology: older star takes younger talent under his wing and both take off to new heights of personal and professional collaboration.
"We basically got together because of my first album," she explains. "He was intrigued by my voice and wanted to know if I was a songwriter. We got together over the phone and started exchanging song ideas. We were compatible right off the bat, [so] we started literally writing 'The Woman In Me' over the phone. . . It wasn't love at first sight with me [when I finally met him face to face]. I had already fallen in love with his mind before I ever had any romantic inclinations towards him."
Regardless of the contributions of Lange as husband/producer/co-writer/mentor, there is no denying that the beautiful, diminutive brunette is a tough little survivor. Reared in a poor family, her mother pushed her in the direction of the musical talent that was obvious by the time she was ready for the first grade. "She knew I was talented and she lived with the hope that my abilities were my chance to do something special," Twain recalls.
In 1987, when Twain was only 21, her mother and father were killed in an auto accident that also nearly killed one of Shania's younger brothers. She turned to performing full-time in Canada to support her 13- and 14-year-old brothers to adulthood. She couldn't go to Nashville to seek a recording career until they were able to leave the home she made for them as sister/mom. During those years, she put all her feelings into her music. "I've always expressed myself through my music, my emotions and my thoughts," she confesses. "I never really kept a diary. My diary was always my writing book. I would a lot of times translate out my emotions and you wouldn't literally be able to read them out as my own experience."
She may have appeared slight and helpless when she got to Nashville, but she wasn't. Like her one country music idol - Dolly Parton - Twain had gumption, was business-oriented yet creative. And she hasn't been afraid to use all her assets in building her success, pushing the envelope in country for using sexiness to sell records while not quite breaking any traditional taboos of the culture. She also understood the personal value of her music.
"I liked to escape my personal life through my music," she says. "Music was all I ever had. I would play 'til my fingers were bruised, and I loved it!"
One thing she didn't particularly enjoy was the pressure of performing. Her mother had to push her to get on stages, and used to wake her at 1 in the morning to go sing in bars after alcohol sales had cut off because that was when minors were allowed to enter. The industry was surprised when Twain didn't mount a concert tour to take advantage of her second CD's success. Despite the fact of an earlier album, Twain didn't feel she had enough hits to build a show around until "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under," "Any Man Of Mine," "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here," "The Woman In Me," "You Win My Love" and "No One Needs To Know" became smashes. She did a lengthy meet-&-greet tour of shopping malls, but only performed on a handful of awards shows. She plans to tour in 1997, in support of a third album that she and Lange left their Lake Placid, New York home for Christmas holidays in the Caribbean to finish writing. "We're a two-guitar family," she says, laughing. "This is a chance for us to get away from the phones, from any interruptions, and just write songs. For the last two years we've been writing a lot individually and now we're coming together with the ideas we've got banked up."
The forthcoming album promises to be more hooky, iconoclastic, rock-beat country music like The Woman In Me, but with a twist.
"We've got some exciting titles, some exciting concepts for the next album," she says. "I'm very big on titles and concepts when I go about writing a song. I often have a whole list of just titles. We're basically gonna come up with stuff that's really gonna make you think. Stuff you can laugh with; stuff you can cry to; just a lot more of the same stuff, but we're gonna reach deeper inside ourselves [and allow] fewer inhibitions."
Description of Product
Johanna Schneller, Chatelaine, May/96
One - count it, one year ago, the only people who'd heard of Shania Twain were die-hard country music fans. Today, her albums sell by the truckload. Johanna Schneller meets the woman behind the fame
Shania Twain is back-combing my hair.
We're in her hotel suite in New York, and she's standing behind my chair. Good thing I'm sitting down: even with flat hair, next to the petite-yet-curvy Twain, I feel as big as a Santa Claus Parade float.
"You don't know how to do this?" Twain asks. Her voice is friendly and full of energy; it turns up at the end of sentences like a verbal smiley face. (She also possesses a jawline like a speedboat and melted-chocolate eyes.) "It's very easy. You just hold a handful like this, and push the comb down toward the root? Now, feel what it does to your hair." She shakes her head. "I can't believe you don't know how to back-comb."
Maybe she thinks I'm making fun of her. Certainly every aspiring country singer knows how to tease her hair into a commanding cloud - and Shania Twain, 30, has used her share of hair spray on the road from child stardom in Timmins, Ont., to smashing success in Nashville, Tenn. Or maybe she's simply so new to fame that she doesn't trust any of it.
One - count it, one year ago, the only people who knew Twain's music were die-hard back-combers. But that was before her second album, The Woman in Me, sold one million copies here and six million copies worldwide. That was before she swept the Canadian Country Music Awards last September, winning five honors including best album, best single ("Any Man of Mine") and top female vocalist. That was before she sang for President Clinton at a November gala, and before she danced on a float with a giant turkey in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. That was before she was named best new vocalist at the American Music Awards in January, won a Grammy for best country album in February and was nominated for seven Juno Awards. Says Cliff Dumas, morning deejay on CISS FM, Canada's biggest New Country radio station, "Anne Murray cracked the door to success in America. Michelle Wright wedged it a little more. Shania blew it wide open."
Now, here she is, on the verge of eternal fame - and on the island of Manhattan - to shoot the video for a rompin', stompin', drum-heavy tune called "If You're Not in it for Love, I'm Outta Here!" She's waiting for her wardrobe woman to arrive with the pair of black velvet, lace-front, bell-bottom hip-huggers made to Twain's specifications during a five-hour fitting. The pants were cut too low; emergency procedures were performed with spandex. The reconfigured pants fit like the skin of a sleek seal.
Still, five hours for a pair of bell-bottoms? "Before, the pants didn't work for Shania," says her publicist, Patty Lou Andrews. "Now, they work." Shania Twain always knew what she wanted. These days, she knows how to get it.
In the caramel-colored marble lobby of a Manhattan courthouse, Twain winks at a large camera that zooms around her on a U-shaped track like an oversize model train. She's wearing The Pants, plus a red chenille cropped turtleneck (Twain loves to wear black, red or white) and an expanse of flat stomach. "This is the midriff year," she says, laughing. "Who knows what it will be next year? I hate my legs, so I'll never have a leg year."
Welcome to the land of New Country, where midriffs abound and cryin' is passé. Though they still twang with traditional steel guitars and fiddles, Twain's songs - all of which she writes or cowrites with her husband, top record producer Robert John (Mutt) Lange - are more about strength than weakness. Equal parts femininity and feminism (as in "The Woman in Me": But I can't always be/the rock that you see), they strike a '90s chord with both women and men. When a guy cheats in Twain's song "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?," does she beg him to come back? Oh, no. She sashays out the door in a slinky red dress, smiling.
Twain's songs may be jauntier than New Country king Garth Brooks's (he tackles modern themes like spousal abuse and single parenting). Still, an iron thread of authenticity runs through her music. She's able to joke about heartbreak because she's already survived much worse.
At the video shoot's dinner break, when everyone else is chowing down on Chinese takeout, Twain sneaks off to her trailer with a plate of rice. Just rice. She's been a vegetarian for two years. "If I ever get fat because I eat too much? I couldn't be satisfied with myself," she says. "Because I would think, 'There's extra pounds on me, and there's kids out there that....' I sure could have left a little, and not consumed it myself. When I make dinner, I'm perfect at just making enough. My husband says, 'What are you trying to do, starve me?' But it's the mind-set of my childhood, the grooves that end up in your brain."
Because it has a happy ending, Twain's childhood now reads like the stuff of country legend. But it didn't seem romantic back in Timmins. Gerald Twain was an Ojibwa forester; he and his wife, Sharon, raised five kids (Shania, who was then called Eilleen, was the second-oldest). There was never enough money.
"In my house," Twain says, "it was so wrong to take more than your share. If you decided to take an extra potato, someone didn't get a potato at all." She remembers gasping when a visiting friend poured herself a whole glass of milk. "To us, eating like that was only on TV."
At age 3, little Eilleen started harmonizing to the country music the Twains played on the radio, inventing parts that weren't there. When she was 8, her parents would wake her at 1 a.m. so she could sing in clubs after they stopped serving liquor. Twain dreamed of records, radio and Nashville. The family cut corners to buy her a microphone, sheet music, stage outfits.
Twain hid her poverty from her friends at school. "I did a good job too. But you know what? I recognized as a kid that I wasn't the worst off. My mother had a lot of pride. We never went to school dirty or in ripped clothes. I always think of 'Coat of Many Colors,' the Dolly Parton song? So when I would see another kid that was dirty, I knew they didn't have the loving parents I had."
That's why Twain feels no resentment toward her parents for encouraging her to work (they counted on her income, which soon approached theirs). "They weren't living vicariously through me or anything like that. I think the only desperation was to have a child that succeeded," she says. "It's like, if you have an Olympic athlete for a child, you are going to bite your fingers to the bone, wanting that child to succeed."
Her parents never got to see a Shania Twain record. When she was 22, they died suddenly when their car crashed into a logging truck. Twain became surrogate mother to her three younger siblings, and sang wherever she could earn money, including a three-year stint doing six shows a week at the Deerhurst Resort near Muskoka, Ont. She changed her first name to Shania, an Ojibwa word that means "on my way." When her siblings felt ready to go their separate ways in 1991, she headed to Nashville. Two years later, her billboards were towering over the streets.
And now, she has it all: a record company that begs her to tour (maybe spring 1997?). Fans waiting in airports with armfuls of photos and CDs for her to sign. A 1,200-hectare lakeside estate in upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains. A fairy-tale romance that started when Mutt (who has produced records for, among others, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard and Michael Bolton) spotted a-naturally-midriff-baring Twain in her first video, "What Made You Say That?," from her 1993 debut album, Shania Twain, and phoned her management company. (Thinking he was just a fan, they tried to send him away with an autographed photo.)
Twain and Lange began writing songs together long-distance, then fell in love on a working trip - in Spain. "Looking at him the day I fell in love, and looking at him the day before? Two different things," Twain says. (Sounds like song lyrics to me.) They married in December 1993, six months after they met. That's another thing Twain has: a 2.5-carat diamond ring winking on her finger. Lange proposed in Paris; he flew Twain's sisters there to keep her company while he worked in the studio. And let's not forget the velvet pants.
What Twain won't forget, however, is that a few short years ago she was kneeling over a cold river to wash her family's laundry when their well went dry and she couldn't afford to bring the clothes to a laundromat. "That's a part of me I want to try and keep. I think it keeps things in perspective. It keeps you from expecting too much and being let down," she says.
Let down. Twain knows about being let down so well that she's erected a bit of an unconscious barrier between herself and her success. At a party in Nashville to celebrate her first platinum record, champagne was flowing, people were shouting their congratulations. But it was only when she saw it on TV days later that she thought, "Wow, I enjoyed that night. That was fun. And I kind of celebrated it again, almost for real."
When I ask, "So have you had a moment where you realized that you have everything you've worked for and dreamed about?" she says no. "I don't know why that is. I'm just so focused when I'm doing things, I've just got so much to do...."
As a kid, Twain's big Nashville dream was touchingly simple: she wanted nothing more than to bump into her hero Dolly Parton, queen of the back-comb. A few years ago, she did. Twain was humming one of her own tunes to herself on an airplane, and Parton, who was on the flight, asked her what the tune was. But Twain was too shy to answer. "My one chance to talk to Dolly Parton and I didn't take it! But I want to know her. I definitely want to know her at some point." Her voice is strong with resolve. I have no doubt they will meet again.