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Twain bags kudos
Twain bags kudos
Country vixen and producer nominated for three awards
By JANE STEVENSON -- Toronto Sun
Canadian country music vixen Shania Twain, whose latest release, Come On Over, recently became the fifth best-selling album in U.S. history with sales topping the 17-million mark, has more kudos.

Twain and hubby, producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange, lead the nominees for the U.K.'s 45th annual Ivor Novella Awards, which honour songwriters and composers.

Three nominations

The couple picked up three nominations for That Don't Impress Me Much, which was recognized in the categories of best-selling U.K. single, international hit of the year and most-performed work.

The awards will be handed out May 25 at Grosvenor House in London.

Currently gracing the May-June issue of FHM (For Him Magazine) in a cleveage-revealing black PVC number, Twain is interviewed inside about a wide range of topics.

She says of her diverse fanbase: "I was amazed at first by how many different people are into my music. I see them at my concerts -- one show in London there were even a couple of German biker-ladies."

Twain is also asked when she feels most sexy.

"I think it's when I get out of the tub," she tells FHM. "Your skin is fresh and you've stuck your hair up without even looking. That's when you look your best."

So naturally, this being a men's magazine, the followup question is does she walk around naked?

"I do!" says Twain. "I never used to -- I was never comfortable with myself that way -- but I'm a lot less critical now."


Twain is also asked about her first sexual encounter.

"Mine was pretty unforgettable," she tells FHM. "I'm kind of old-fashioned, so I was never really into the do-it-at-a-party-in-a-side-room thing. I wasn't drinking, it was well-thought out, and I was like, 'Okay, now I'm gonna experiment.' And it certainly was enjoyable."

New version of Twain album on its way
Shania wants you to come on over

By ANIKA van WYK -- Calgary Sun
Shania Twain has butterflies in her stomach waiting for the Tuesday release of her third album.

"I'm sitting here with great anticipation. I can't wait until everybody hears (Come On Over)," Twain tells the Sun in a phone interview.

"There has been a few people who have heard it and there's been nothing but great responses."

Come On Over has an unprecedented 16 songs and Twain admits it's "a long listen."

"It's going to take a while to actually get to know it, to settle into it," adds Twain.

The pressure is high, as Twain's last album, The Woman In Me, did so phenomenally well and Mercury Records has stated they hope to outsell Garth Brooks' No Fences (13 million) with this album.

Despite the competitive nature of her record label, Twain says it's not a feeling she shares.

"I'm not naturally a competitive person. I like to compete with myself but I like to think I'm in a category of my own, as each artist is. That's a goal that I strive for."

Twain says concentrating on sales figures takes the fun out of the business.

"I love challenge, but I don't like the challenge of competition. My favorite sport is horseback riding and there's nothing competitive with that."

Twain's team-player attitude comes in handy while working with her husband, famous Def Leppard/Bryan Adams producer Robert (Mutt) Lange. The couple, who were married in 1994, have co-written all the songs on Come On Over.

"Our relationship started because we were compatible creatively ... so that's really one of the parts of our relationship that is the most compatible," she explains.

Lange tends to lean towards the musical arrangement and Twain favors working on the lyrics of a song.

"He's the type of guy who almost never puts the guitar down. He's always got it on him, he walks around with it.

"I sit down to use the guitar, I don't walk around with it. But I'm the type of person that's always thinking of lyrics," she says.

When the two come together with their ideas, the process becomes more of a collaboration.

But who has the final say, when they can't agree?

"If we can't agree, and we're just like this, we usually try to find an alternative -- that's part of the fun actually.

"If we can't compromise, because it's very difficult to compromise artisticaly, we take up the challenge of finding another way of saying it and it always comes out better that way."

The star-studded couple also find that time will help solve any impasse.

"Or we'll leave it alone for a while and who ever didn't agree may see it differently. I've done that sometimes: If I've come up with a title or an idea, he may not see it right away and a few weeks later I'll reintroduce it again in a different way and all of a sudden he'll think it's great."

Some have criticized the marriage as one of career convinience, something that Twain laughs off.

"We've been together a ton over the last six months and it's been great," she says of her shy husband.

And just to make sure people know she's not just referring to their work she adds: "We are very happy sexually!"

Shania moves into 100-room mansionShania moves into 100-room mansion
Country superstar Shania Twain is relaxing in a 100-room mansion.

The singer, who has dominated the country charts with her album "Come On Over," is taking some time away from the spotlight with her producer/husband Mutt Lange, the Daily Mirror reports.

The 18th-Century home is allegedly worth over a million dollars and rests on the banks of Lake Geneva.

The mansion comes complete with a pool, tennis courts and a paddock for her six horses. Her neighbours include Phil Collins and Robert Palmer.

Twain told her handlers that she was taking a year-long break from her fame and is apparently sticking to her story.

"You sometimes see her riding her horse around the lake, but most of the time she keeps to herself," one neighbour said. "She leads a very quiet life."

Twain bought her Swiss home last spring and moved into it in December.

Battle brewing over Shania tapes
Battle over Shania tapes
Senior Reporter, JAM! Showbiz
A war of words is brewing between a Nashville record label and a Canadian record producer over the release of Shania Twain's pre-fame recordings.

As first reported by JAM! last week, a collection of Twain's late-'80s hard rock recordings, entitled "Beginnings", is being released to stores outside Canada next month. It is also currently available for download via the website

But all this came as news to the man who says he discovered Twain and owns the rights to the recordings.

Harry Hinde told JAM! he has hired a lawyer and will try to halt the release of the recordings, which he said were never authorized by him.

"All I can tell you is I am thoroughly disgusted," Hinde said Tuesday from his Toronto home.

"I feel sorry for Shania. I think she should have a choice to buy it and keep it. It belongs to she and I.

"I'm shocked and appalled they would do something like that."

The "they" Hinde is referring to is Jomato Music, the company that licensed the album to and intends to ship the disc to record stores. But on Tuesday, Jomato president John Edwards said he is confident his company's claim on the record is sound.

"We've heard from Harry's lawyer. Quite honestly, they have no paper-work, they have no master (tape). so they are S.O.L.," Edwards said.

Added Mark Saxon, general manager of Jomato's affiliated company Renaissance Records in Nashville: "I think you will end up with 100 calls from people claiming to own this thing. Any time a big-money thing comes out, people come out of the woodwork."

Both sides are hurling allegations at each other now, and it's difficult sorting out who does own the rights to the recordings, made between 1989 and 1990, when Twain was known by her real name, Eileen.

Hinde -- who says he has been in the Canadian music business for more than 40 years -- said that in the late-'80s, he was invited up to Deerhurst, Ont., where Twain was working as an entertainer at a resort, to assess her potential as a recording artist. He says that under his guidance, she wrote and recorded with a California-based guitarist named Paul Sabu (incidentally, son of the '40s and '50s child film star known as Sabu The Elephant Boy). Nothing came of Hinde's attempts to land her a recording contract, however.

"The financing feel through and Shania got really discouraged. I didn't hear from her for about four weeks, and then next thing I heard she went to Nashville," Hinde recalls, adding that his relations with Twain were always cordial.

Since Twain's success in Nashville, he has been approached periodically to issue the early tapes but said he steadfastly refused.

"People contacted me. When Arnold Schwarzenegger became famous, everyone who ever did a home movie pulled it out. I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to interfere in her career going up the ladder."

In fact, as recently as this past summer, Hinde said he was talking to Twain's label, Mercury Records, about selling the tape to them. (Representatives from Mercury could not be reached for comment).

"I just feel awful. My whole intention was to do this above-board. If I want to do something illegal, I had many opportunities over the years. I just didn't want to do it. I don't want to get involved in this kind of crap," Hinde said.

The Jomato officials acknowledge Hinde "orchestrated" the early recording sessions and invited Sabu up to Deerhurst. But they say they believe the tapes are rightfully controlled by Sabu, and that's whom they negotiated with for the release of "Beginnings" -- an account echoed by Sabu.

"Under Canadian law, they defacto came into the rightful ownership and possession of Paul Sabu," says Edwards.

"Paul Sabu then registered the U.S. copyright on it, which we have clean, full copyright on."

Jomato has arranged for their release to benefit two of Shania's favourite children's charities, and the songwriter will be paid all due royalties, he added. And as evidence that their intention is not to embarrass Twain, Edwards said his label was recently contacted by parties in Nashville who claim they have seven newly discovered recordings made by Twain in 1985. Jomato passed on issuing those sides, however.

"They are crap tracks," said Edwards.

Adds Saxon: "The performances are way below standard and would hurt her. And we decided we have no intention of doing anything with it. We aren't lookling to do damage."

Hinde's lawyer could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Twain herself has not made any public statement on the release, although a spokeswoman for her label previously told JAM! the singer was "considering all her options."

Jomato is confident they have little to fear from a legal challenge from Hinde, but Hinde said there's no doubt in his mind both he and Twain have been wronged.

"I read about people doing this sort of thing, but I never thought it would happen to anyone connected with me," Hinde said.

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As Good as it Gets
Written by Margy Holland
Article provided by Carrie

Shania Twain is closing out the millennium as one of the most successful artists in the world. Her record-setting sales feats and numerous accolades and industry awards have set her apart from the rest and put her in a league of her own. Sales of her current album, Come On Over, have reached a staggering sixteen million, making her second only to pop/rock singer Alanis Morissette when it comes to album sales by a female. Twain recently captured the prestigious honor of being names Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association (CMA).

Though her long list of awards includes Grammys, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and World Music Awards, this was Twain's first nod from the CMA. She celebrated after the show by routing her limousine driver through the drive-thru window of Krispy Kreme donuts for "one of those great donuts they brought to us everyday when we were recording Come On Over."

The singer does not display any of her awards, but humbly stores them in one specific room in her house. Her gold and platinum awards and plaques hang in the one place Twain spends most of her time - in her stable. While each accolade takes on its own special meaning, the thirty-four-year-old singer says that she doesn't place great importance on winning awards. "I'm as excited as anyone when I get up there and win, but to be honest with you, I don't sit there waiting. I learned a long time ago that you just end up being very disappointed. I think it can make you very bitter if you just put too much weight in that. I don't want to be bitter. I don't even want to compete on that level, so I take it very lightly, actually."

Twain wrapped up her first world tour last summer, performing before sold-out crowds of as many as thirty-thousand people per show and changing the opinions of naysayers who at one time doubted her talent. "When I went out there I didn't feel like I needed to prove anything to anyone. I understood that most people didn't know my background. They had never really seen much of me live. Before I got my record deal, my livelihood was singing live. That's what I did. I am no different on my stage that I was in any club," said the Canadian-born Twain.

"Throughout my childhood and all of my teens, it was just me and a bar. It was mostly rock music which requires a lot of energy. Rock is the hardest thing to sing night after night, six nights a week, with a matinee and you're traveling in a very dumpy truck and terrible hotels and it's awful. I've done all that, so going into this situation on the road was like a luxury. It was like floating on a cloud. I've got this amazing bus, I've got my dog with me, I've got my horse, I've got all sorts of wonderful people around me that I've hand-chosen so I know I like them. I'm making a great living, and I don't even sing every night of the week. I'm singing sometimes two or three shows in a row at the most. What an easy gig! It was like nothing compared to what I was used to, so if you come from that background and it was your living, this kind of touring is pretty darn easy and fun."

While life since her childhood in Timmins, Ontario has certainly changed for Twain, she resists the star treatment and insists on living a normal life. "Everyone loves attention. We love the attention when it's complimentary and we hate the attention when it sucks, so we're all the same. I'm no different than anyone else, but as far as the actual fame goes, I really don't like being treated like a star," said Twain. "I like to be just a normal, everyday person. I get away with a lot. I decided in the last year - especially on the tour because I really felt like I was living even more in a bubble than I had ever before - I decided to start going for walks by myself and I decided to start not taking security and I decided to start doing things like other people do and like I used to do. If you dress down and you just act like a normal person and you don't act like a star, then people don't notice you as much and I enjoy that the most."

Twain does use her star power, however, when it really counts. Like all celebrities, she often gets those special requests to meet with terminally ill children and adults. "The beauty about being able to reach people or to help people when they're sick and dying is that you can only almost do that as a celebrity," said Twain. "It means so much to them. It's almost like if you can use your celebrity in those ways and no other way, then you've got a good balance."

Aside from her philanthropic works, the one thing that helps keep the superstar focused on what is really important is her family. Twain has two brothers and two sisters who remain in Canada, but the miles between them are no problem for the tight-knit group. "I depend on my family a lot," said Twain. "I need to stay grounded, in the sense that I like to remember where I'm from. I get lonely like everybody gets lonely. I get lonely for smelling firewood in the air, the sound of a loon, and snowmobiling with my nephews. I get lonely for those sorts of things, and I don't get home often enough, so I bring my family to me. They're experimenting in new things because of it, so it's kind o neat what's happening to us as a family. We depend a lot on each other, more and more all of the time." Twain flew her family to her new home in Switzerland for the Christmas holidays.

In the meantime, she is working on a Christmas album for 2000, and a new country album which could also be released as early as this year. Though her demanding schedule seems never-ending, Twain says she has finally learned how to make the most out of her career. "I started enjoying the ride at least in the last year. The tour has been a great release for me because I've been able to get out on the stage and sweat it out, be with the fans, feel that encouragement and get a lot of my confidence back because I think I lost that for a while - feeling the pressure of being a celebrity, feeling like I had to live up to certain things. I mean, it's all a part of it. Realizing that you're really not that great. I mean, there's always someone who's better than you in every way and sometimes that's a hard pill to swallow when you're a perfectionist and you're really trying to be great and you're trying to be the best and you have to accept that you're just not always the best," Twain said. "You have to come to terms with that and get comfortable with yourself and I'm finally getting there."

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Shania's rock tapes surface on Web
Shania's rock tapes surface on Web
Senior Reporter, JAM! Showbiz
Shania Twain is "investigating all of her options" after the singer's pre-fame, hard rock recordings surfaced on the internet and will soon be arriving in record stores, JAM! has learned.

This week, the website posted as a free download a 12-track compilation called "Eileen Shania Twain: Beginnings (1989-1990)," which features a decidedly hard-rocking Twain performing raunched-up songs, including a heavy-metal version of Cher's 1970s hit "Half-Breed."

The songs, recorded in Ontario about 10 years ago for a proposed album but never before commercially available, are posted in both MP3 and Windows Media Player formats and can be downloaded as part of a special promotion for free until Oct. 30. After that date, the tracks can be downloaded for $1 per song.

The disc will also be released to record stores outside Canada during the first week of November.

A spokesman for Jon Landau Management, which handles the country queen's career, said the organization didn't find out about's offer until Wednesday and has staff looking into the propriety of the release.

"She is fully aware of the recordings being made available," Samantha Johnson, spokeswoman for Twain's Canadian label, Mercury Records, said Thursday.

"She was never consulted in regards to any of it. She is in no way associated with it."

When asked if Twain's camp was considering legal action to stop the distribution of the songs, Johnson said: "I think they are investigating all of her options."

The songs, with titles like "Bite My Lip," "Wild And Wicked," "Hate To Love" and "(Don't Gimme That) Once Over" will come as a shock to anyone familiar with the singer's middle-of-the-road contemporary country sound. Instead of fiddles and mandolins, Twain is backed by pounding drums, screaming guitars, layers of keyboards and even some club-remix arrangements.

Tracing exactly how the tapes surfaced is a complex story. vice-president Bill Crowley says that his company acquired the digital download rights to the songs from a Nashville-based company called Jomato Records.

"If it were a case of substandard material, I don't think I would have had the appetite, nor would anyone else in our organization, to get involved with this," Crowley said Thursday from New York. "I think it is great stuff."

Renaissance general manager Mark Saxon says his company is distributing the Twain album for an affiliated company called Jomato Records, which in turn dealt with Paul Sabu -- the guitarist who co-wrote and recorded the songs with Twain and was technically owner of the master tape.

An inferior-quality 10-track bootleg version of the album, entitled "On The Way," has hit stores in Europe, and Jamato has taken legal action to halt that release, Saxon said Thursday from Nashville.

"We have all the paperwork that has been looked at by a dozen lawyers, and also the English courts have already agreed it is our correct paperwork," said Saxon, adding that Twain will receive songwriting and publishing royalties. Two children's charities she supports will also benefit from the release of "Beginnings."

"My guess is she will be thrilled about it. It is something she doesn't have to do any work on and she is going to have a chance to make some great songwriting royalties and help out some kids. And I think this is a great album," Saxon said.

Contacted Thursday in Pacific Palisades, California, Sabu, 42, said he was first introduced to Twain in the late '80s, when he was working with Canadian heavy-rock singer Lee Aaron. A Canadian producer contacted Sabu and asked him to co-write and record demos with Twain at a resort she was performing at in Deerhurst, Ont.

"He thought he could get a deal with A&M with her. I met her in Toronto and went up with her to the middle of nowhere," Sabu said of his trip to the resort with Twain.

"It kind of progressed. She was great and A&M really liked her and wanted to do a record."

The pair split the songwriting credit evenly. He said he remembers Twain as being a sweet, ambitious, talented girl desperate to break out of her small-town life and succeed at music.

"She had a lot of people kind of hanging on her I'm pretty sure she didn't want around. She had some pretty good reasons to really try. I'm just glad she did," he said.

After one recording session in Toronto, Sabu said the rest of the tunes were recorded on borrowed equipment at the resort. Some of Twain's vocals were recorded in a sauna. When someone was using the restroom, Twain couldn't record vocals because of the sound.

"It wasn't a Hollywood kind of recording studio," he said.

"We had a cabin in the middle of nowhere," he added, laughing at the memory. "We were taking these eight-track tapes and carrying them around in the snow. It was way above the call of duty for that kind of stuff, but it was fun. I had never done that kind of stuff before."

Sabu says Twain had limited knowledge of hard rock at the time -- her big song during the stageshow at the Deerhurst resort was "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" -- and the guitarist says he lectured the singer on his favourite producer: Mutt Lange, who years later would marry Twain and become her producer.

"She was doing some (disco) stuff and it wasn't as good ... She was just a good singer," he says.

"Even now, some of the riffs I hear her sing, reminds me of the first stuff we ever did. I made her listen to stuff like Boston that she had never listened to before."

Sabu and Twain kept in touch up until she married Lange, but there has been no contact since then. Sabu said he gave no thought to releasing the music until he was contacted by the parties interested in putting out "Beginnings."

"The only reason I knew it was okay to do was because she loved it so much. She always told me she loved these songs," he said. It's too early to tell what Twain's response will be, although her management company also handles the career of Bruce Springsteen -- an artist who has been very vigilante in keeping a lid on the release of early music of uncertain ownership.

Some artists go to the trouble of tracking down and buying up or licensing early recordings for their own purposes, says Musicmaker's Crowley.

"Often in history when these kinds of events come up, the (artist's) label sometimes acquires the recordings or uses them as part of a box set or buries them or does whatever they do with them. That did not happen in this case."

Trouble in Music City
From Y-107 FM Music News, May 2000

Alan Jackson will open the annual television show with a loud C-chord of protest.

ON TV Academy of Country Music Awards 8 tonight on CBS. Any country music fan will tell you that the two most unlikely troublemakers in Nashville are George Strait and Alan Jackson.

But at tonight's Academy of Country Music Awards, these two reserved Nashville superstars will open the annual television show with a loud C-chord of protest.

"Murder on Music Row" is a 4-minute, 23-second tune that is an indictment of the Nashville music industry, which many feel has sold out traditional country music - the twangy, earthy, hard-drinkin', heart breakin' kind - for the more lucrative and mainstream sounds of pop. (Music Row is the name given 16th Avenue South in Nashville, the street that for decades has been the heart of the country music scene.)

"As long as I can remember, the tension (between pop and traditionalism) has always been there, but I've never seen it quite as polarized as it is lately," says MCA producer Tony Brown, who oversaw the recording of "Murder on Music Row."

Steve Mitchell, program director of Atlanta country station Y-106.7, agrees. "Shania Twain has pushed the envelope, and it's caused a lot of people to miss the traditional sound."

Just mention that million-selling, belly-buttoned star's name to 22-year-old Justin Bell, a line-dancing country fan from Carnesville, and his black cowboy hat almost starts spinning. "I hate Shania Twain... There's country, then there's Shania. She's pop with a twang. Give us George (Jones). Give us Hank (Williams) - that yee-haw stuff that everybody loves."

In the past five years, while Nashville-based artists such as Twain, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Lonestar have found a pot of gold with crossover hits on Top 40 radio, other country music acts have dipped far below the gold-rush days of 1995, when Garth Brooks helped propel the genre to an all-time record billion in sales.

But the backlash is in full swing: On Tuesday, Loretta Lynn was in Atlanta at a high-rise office complex across from Lenox Square filming a video. It features a man behind a desk telling her that she's got to change. "They say that I'm too country, the way I look and sound. They wanna make me over, just a little more uptown," goes the lyric. Lynn, who hasn't had a hit record in nearly 20 years, said afterward: "I never stopped being country."

With ratings as flat as a three-day-old glass of beer, Atlanta country radio station Y-106.7 - which had been touting itself as the home of "young hit" country for years - recently switched formats to play half new releases and half vintage hits from artists such as Jones and Dolly Parton.

Angry that artists over 40 were being virtually shut out from radio airplay, Johnny Cash's producer took out a full-page ad in Billboard displaying a vintage, 1960s photo of Cash flipping a finger into the camera. At the recent Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, hundreds crammed into a standing-room-only session billed "Too Country/Too Pop?", where one participant accused the panel of Music Row execs of "throwing us under the bus."

Meanwhile, Canadian Twain, who eschews the Nashville establishment to write and record songs with her rock producer/husband, Mutt Lang (Def Leppard), became the biggest-selling act in country music history. Ever.

Moby, the top-rated morning deejay on Atlanta country station Kicks 101.5, makes this observation: "Somewhere out in Coweta County every morning in a barn there's a guy milking a cow, listening to a transistor radio set up on a rafter, saying 'what the hell is that?'."

Though Twain and other Nashville-based acts who use the production tricks of rock music - big drums, electric piano, adolescent themes about love - have stoked the current fire, the controversy is nothing new. The man most consider the granddaddy of today's commercial country, Hank Williams, saw his tunes covered by pop acts of the day. Early television exposure prompted 1950s Nashville artists such as Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, Ray Price and Patsy Cline to toss out the rhinestones and adopt cocktail-wear. The country/rock movement of the 1970s led the Country Music Association to name granola-folkie John Denver its entertainer of the year in 1975 (Hardcore fans will remember that a peeved Charlie Rich burned the envelope after making that announcement on television.) Crystal Gayle and Kenny Rogers danced back and forth between country and pop charts in the early 1980s. Even the queen of dime-store country herself, Parton, has dabbled in both disco and pop. And let's not forget Garth Brooks, who drew millions of new fans to country music but donned a black wig and mascara to become a bizarre pop act known as Chris Gaines.

Why has the view out the farmhouse window so consistently been focused on the manicured lawns of suburban America? M-o-n-e-y. Joe Galante, the veteran head of RCA Records/Nashville, points to the country group Lonestar as a crossover example. "When you have a hit like "Amazed," it's double the money. Who in their right mind puts out a book or puts on a network TV show and just wants to appeal to one group of people? We try to sell as much as we can by keeping the integrity of the product. That's what a business does."

"But," says Y-106.7's Mitchell, "I think the record companies are starting to pick up on the backlash. Look at Shane Minor. This guy came out smoking. They said he was country, but he sure sounded pop. He just got dropped from his label."

Just as country music has always flirted with pop over the years, the pendulum has inevitably swung back to traditionalism. Just when an Olivia Newton-John or a Twain seem to be giving Nashville a mainstream makeover, along comes rough-around-the-edges traditionalists to preserve country music's accent. For every Patsy Cline, there's a Loretta Lynn. The same year Denver was the darling of Nashville, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson barreled in with their monster, anti-Nashville album, "Wanted: The Outlaws."

While Rogers was crooning duets with Lionel Ritchie, alternative country acts such as Dwight Yoakam, k.d. lang and Steve Earle were turning up the twang in west coast clubs. When country boy Randy Travis broke through with his lonesome whine in the 1980s, he opened the door for one of the biggest returns to traditionalism country has ever seen, led by tractor tapedeck acts such as Jackson, Strait and Travis Tritt.

Frustrated with Nashville's recent preoccupation with pop, Tritt recently took a two-year break from his career to reassess and renew. He switched record labels, signing with the Columbia division of Sony, and concentrated on writing tunes for a new album - due out in October - that he believes will speak to country's fan base.

"If you look back at the history of country music, it runs in 10-year cycles," he says. "We start out with boom-chicka-boom, nuts-and-bolts traditionalism. Then it starts building up and brings in a lot of influences that stray away from what country music is lyrically and musically. It makes it start sounding like a lot of different things. Then there's this big flushing, and it always goes back to the boom-chicka-boom, because that's the real stuff."

"When I started out in the '80s, all the guys I knew listened to country music. The first thing they did when they got off work was to hop in their truck and turn it up. It was part of their day-to-day lives. We've lost them to either classic rock or Rush Limbaugh. We've lost them, and in order to get them back we've got to start doing some gutsy stuff as well as the ballads that will hold onto the female audience."

Ironically, producer Tony Brown thinks some of the current rebellion is prompted by the success of female acts. Twain may not sound like Tammy Wynette, but her aggressive, in-your-face style has helped move women from the second tier as money-makers to the top.

"Right now, it's mainly the girls who are crossing over," Brown says. "And a lot of them, from an image standpoint, have a pop image. Almost any female country artist today dresses equally as fashionable as any pop artist... I think it's kind of interesting that of the people raising their voices, it's mostly the men who used to dominate this industry."

Even Lynn said she thinks the country music community is making way too much of the controversy, particularly when it comes to criticizing artists such as Faith Hill. "People keep putting Faith down, but as far as I'm concerned, she can sing what she wants to."

Galante, who has steered RCA Records from the days of the Outlaws to Martina McBride, also thinks a bit of the fuss is overreaction. "I was just sitting here reading the trades, looking at the records going up the pop charts - Limp Biskit, Kid Rock, Christina Aguilera. That's pop music. If you listen to these lyrics, they're not dealing with adult problems. It's very clear to those of us working in the business what is pop and what is country. Today's consumer didn't grow up on Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. You're not going to see someone getting on stage with wagon wheels like Porter Wagoner did because these people didn't grow up on farms. The heart and soul of what they grew up with is the same, they have the same problems... Country music is like a football field. On one side the goal post is Brad Paisely. On the other, you have Shania Twain. The choice is there."

Don Herron of the retro-country group BR5-49, believes "any time country music has been the strongest is when it's playing its twang right along with its pop. The hardcore guys have got to be in there too. Beer drinkin' ain't exactly politically correct anymore. Shootin' somebody doesn't really go over, and a program director gets scared to put that stuff on. But that's what life is. Turn on the news, and that's what you'll see - stories about life... Hank (Williams) probably wouldn't even be around today."