SHANIA TWAIN INTERVIEWS AND ARTICLES PAGE 5
SHANIA SERENADES HOMETOWN
By Joelle Kovach
TIMMINS, ONT. -- Steady rain didn't matter much to Shania Twain as she serenaded her hometown on Canada Day, the last concert date of an extensive North American tour.
"Who cares about the darn rain?" she shouted into a microphone between songs. "This is a perfect, perfect evening."
In rain slickers and hats, more than 20,000 fans danced and sang at Hollinger Park, the venue that Twain last played at age 16.
In signature leather pants and tank top, Twain performed an evening of fare mostly from her latest album, Come On Over. From the first strains of the opening number, Man, I Feel Like a Woman, the crowd danced as one frenzied mass.
For weeks prior to the concert, businesses and private homes alike have been adorned with giant 'Welcome Home Shania' placards while newspaper headlines screamed out her name.
In a backstage press conference, Twain seemed moved by the welcome. "It really warms my heart to know that practically half the town is here," she said. "It's totally exciting. The support's overwhelming."
Twain's North American tour kicked off just over a year ago in the nearby city of Sudbury, Ontario. Twain's hometown fans were disappointed not to see her in Timmins. "I wanted to start the tour here -- the logistics just didn't work out," she said. "But I didn't want to end this tour without coming to Timmins."
In fact, Twain said that she is hoping to buy a summer home somewhere in the North. She spent four days camping near Timmins before the concert. "Coming back here this week has made me so homesick, it's terrible," she said.
The country superstar said she misses the sense of security that Timmins afforded her, in her teens; indeed, she remembers walking home from bar gigs at 3 a.m. with no fear for her safety. "There's a lot of things to miss about Timmins once you've been gone." She recalls attending several concerts at the very same venue. But never did Timmins host a show of the magnitude that she gave. "You had to go to Toronto to see a concert like this," she said.
Indeed, Twain was intent on bringing a little of the big city back to her hometown.
No doubt, the show offered more than the city had ever seen in its life. Four jumbo-tron screens were raised high above a covered stage. Pyrotechnics, an elaborate lights show and tunes booming across the park combined to get the audience dancing. The show ended with an extensive Canada Day fireworks display.
"I wanted Timmins to get the show I give every night," Twain said. "But with a little more emotion."
MONEY AND FAME, THAT DON'T IMPRESS ME MUCH
Sunday Mirror Article, 4/7/99
Shania Twain has a problem. There just aren't enough hours in the day. She maybe at the height of her fame - her single That Don't Impress Me Much was in the Top l0 for weeks - but after six years of marriage, she's longing for some time to bury her head in a good a recipe book and get baking. "I like being at home and cooking," says Shania, who starts her first UK tour this week "I've never had the chance to be an old-fashioned wife."
It's not the sort of remark you'd expect from the woman with the perfectly toned stomach who has been credited with putting the raunch into country music. This is, after all, the singer who didn't at into Nashville's idea of how a young lady should dress and sing...and think.
"I was a hick from the sticks and very short on diplomacy," she laughs. "I was a square peg in a round hole. I questioned every thing. I would stay up all night eating junk food and writing songs I wanted to show my stomach and wear sexy clothes like any other young woman"
Perhaps that's why Shania Twain is such a success. She has never felt the need to conform. Just like the title of her latest single, fame don't impress her much "I never dreamt about being a star," says Shania, 34, who is the first female singer ever to have had two consecutive albums sell more than 10 million copies each. "I don't make a very good one as I find being a celebrity very restricting."
She'd much rather be riding her horse Tango through the forests of New York State than hanging out with the in crowd.
"I relax by riding my horses. Horses are very calming. You can't be frantic around them. It's a challenge - the perfect antithesis for my personality because I am very high energy and impatient," she says.
And as for money, it may have changed her life (she and her record producer husband Robert "Mutt" Lange are said to have made £60 million from her last two albums), but it doesn't change who she is.
Shania Twain was born Eileen Twain, the second of five children in Ontario, Canada. Her father left when she was two and her mother, Sharon, married an Ojibwa Indian called Jerry, who adopted her as his own. She grew up in the small gold mining town of Timmins, planting trees In the winter work was scarce...money was too, The family were so poor that often the only meat they ate were the rabbits they had snared themselves. Shania would take mustard sandwiches to school and if she had nothing to eat she would hide in the music.
Her mother was also prone to depression. "When there wasn't enough to feed us for breakfast my mother didn't get out of bed. She couldn't face the morning. Sometimes the reservation sent a little box with moose or fish in, but it was certainly not enough for seven people. I knew I never wanted to live like that again, And I knew that if I was going to be financially independent I'd better do it myself".
By the time she was l0, she was singing in bars and clubs and at folk festivals, getting paid under the table. Every summer she would live and work in the bush walking miles, lugging logs, washing in lakes and trying to avoid the local bears.
"Dating was never on my mind. I was only interested in my career." Then, when Shania was 21, he life was turned up-side down. Both her parents were killed when a logging truck hit their car head on.
Her elder sister, Jill, was all ready married with children, so it was left to Shania to look after Carrie Ann, 18, Mark, 14, and Darryl, l3.
"When someone close to you dies your priorities change," she says. "Nothing else mattered to me, my career was nothing to me. My brothers were devastated. I had so much sympathy for them I grieved more then than I did for myself. I have never regretted those years and I would have done it for longer.
"I put every effort I had into it, I was working six days a week, plus running the household. It was a very emotional, tragic time. Picking up the clothes in their rooms was the least of my worries. I was more worried about drugs, alcohol, AIDS, pregnancy all these things."
When her brothers left school three years later she was able to resume her career. She signed a record deal with Mercury, adopted the name Shania (which means 'I'm on my way" in Ojibwa) and moved to Nashville.
Her first album was badly received - then Mutt came in. A record executive had shown him one of her videos and he fell in love on the spot. For the next two months they wrote songs over the phone. Shania had no idea who he was, though she knew he was 16 years her senior.
"I just thought he was this guy with a weird name, but I trusted him. I thought he was some weird, shy workaholic. There were no romantic notions aver the phone. I always thought he'd look like some fat old roadie with long, grey hair tied in a pony tail."
Mutt, who had already made a fortune producing Def Leppard and Bryan Adams, was in fact tall and thin, with blue eyes and curly blonde hair.
Eventually they met. Six months later they were married and had co-written her second album 'Woman In Me, which sold 12 million copies. They repeated the process with the 10 million-selling Come On Over, which has established Shania as a truly international star. She already has three Grammy Awards to her name and the single You're Still The One has been a massive hit all over the world.
But working and living together does have its down side.
"Sometimes it can be difficult;" admits Shania, "He wants me to be great all the time, and sometimes I can't escape the intensity of it."
For the past year she has hardly spent any time at either of their homes in New York State and Florida. Mutt has been busy producing albums for Michael Bolton and the Backstreet Boys, while she has been on tour playing to sold-out arenas. At the end of the summer she has promised herself along rest-to catch up on that baking.
My thanks to Jamie Horton for typing this article up
Each week we take a slice from the musical loaf and place it in the 'Under the Spotlight' toaster and see what pops up. This week: Shania Twain.
How is everything?
Everything's going great, I mean it really couldn't get any better. You always hope that things get better and that there's room for growth and there's certainly room for that on my part. But as far as my career is going the biggest challenge for me was to have a follow-up album that would at least equal the success of the first , and we've done that now. The last album went diamond and this album ('Come On Over') has also gone diamond (diamond is the new award for 10 times platinum or 10 million sales). I can't really ask for much more than that. I'm very very happy with the way everything is going and life is pretty good.
Was it a deliberate decision to release a more upbeat single, 'That Don't Impress Me Much', after the slower ballads from the album?
Well most of the album is upbeat like that, it just so happened that over here for some reason we started with different songs. I think a lot of it had to do with the timing of what was going on in the States as well. So when we started releasing singles here we tried to keep things in tandem with what was going on in the States, but by that time in the States I was already on my 4th or 5th single. So instead of doing something completely different we decided to follow suit and I happened to be on a couple of ballads at the time so that was pretty much it and 'TDIMM' is out in the States at the moment as well, so we've tried to keep things a little bit more in tandem and that's the only reason. You know, because in the States I had already released several up tempo singles already before I put out 'You're Still The One' over here.
A pop star flatters you: do you return the compliment even if you don't like their music or know who they are?
Of course I would always come back with some kind of compliment. I mean I think that even if you're not a fan of someone's music you can certainly respect and understand where they're coming from, especially if they're a successful artist, because this is a hard business. My hat goes off to anyone who makes it in this industry whether I like them musically or not.
Have you got a nickname?
Yeah, I've got a couple of nicknames 'Leenie' is one of my nicknames, my family calls me that. But 'Woody' is what my husband calls me because when I met him my hair was kind of curly and I always used to wear it up in a pony tail. So I kind of looked like Woody Woodpecker I guess, he always used to tell me that, so I changed my hairstyle shortly after but the name stuck.
In an argument, who blinks first: you or record company?
Well I have to say that I have a very accomodating, no accomodating is not the right word, supportive is a better word. I have a very supportive record company so I don't really need to blink. I really get the last word. I'm very lucky, quite seriously, I mean they're very, very good, they don't challenge me much at all. I'm definitely one of the lucky ones because I think one of the more difficult relationships in this industry is between the artist and the label.
What are the plans for the rest of the year?
Well I'm really excited about the fact that I have a song on the soundtrack for 'Notting Hill'. That's coming out over the summer, so I'm really excited about that, that's a big deal for me. It's a great movie first of all, and the song is my favourite love song off the album - it's called 'You've Got a Way' - so that's my kind of big thrill for the summer, to have a song in that movie.
Article provided by Jayne Spears
CLICK HERE FOR LYRICSReba McEntire Speaks About Shania
"I think the woman has got talent, I think she has balls to do what she has done, having a whole album out, that many singles to do that well, and then no tour; only Rosanne Cash has done that before. I am very proud of her, everyday I see the sound scan and she sold another week's worth of amzing sales, so more power to her in my book. Shania is one of the best voices to ever enter the musical field, we should all be blessed she is country. There has been a lot of controversy over her "midrif" so to say, but I think if you can do it, why not.
Once you reach a certain age of 44 you just can't do that anymore, let her enjoy it while she can, if it looks good and its not trashy, and tastefully done then it comes off great and Shania always has. Her sound is also a controversial issue, if thats what her heart tells her to do, then do it. If mine did, I would. Why hold someone down, to one musical style when she can succeed at anything? Let her fly. She is not what we call traditional, but she has brought millions of new fans to country, and eventually new fans to the rest of us.
A lot of times her personality is in question also, she comes off as a money driven b****, I can honestly say that Shania, is one of the best friends I have in and out of the industry, she called about 1 week ago, from England, to tell me how well she liked the new single, and we chit chatted for a while. Then i called not too long ago really and told her how well i liked "That Don't Impress Me Much" - another woman's anthem song - what we need more of. And then a lot of times, the reign of queen is called into question. She told me that she would never ever take the queen of country away, and that, in her eyes and millions more I would always be the queen, and each time when questioned in an interview if she considers herself queen of country she replies "No, Reba is the undisputable queen of country".
Recently at ACM's we met again, and had a pic together, and they did a caption on star, about teary eyed Reba has been dethroned by Shania. It was me and Shania and Faith, and Terri Clark on my jet, I thought she was ready to blow her top, when she saw the rag magazine. The real reason was because she told me how beautiful I looked, and about how the award show was ****** because netiher one of us won! I wasn't crying I had been laughing so hard - she is hilarious.
So you see Shania is not only a beautiful woman, a talented singer, a wonderful entertainer, she is a great friend. I will always defend her, she will always be one of my best girl friends. I count myself blessed that she is country, when she could easily sing anything she wanted to!!!!"
CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME PAGECountry Weekly, June 1999, Thanks to Carrie
Despite her amazing pop success, Shania Twain is still inviting people to "Come On Over" to country music.
"I'm not looking to leave country, but I do want more international success," Shania says as she's about to wrap up her first world tour. "The more people that hear your music, the more satisfied you are as an artist."
Yet recent press coverage on Shania might have you believe otherwise. The headline from this month's cover of Glamour declares "Shania Twain: From poverty to pop star." The Associated Press states that Shania "looks about as country as the Manhattan Skyline." And the Chicago Tribune accuses her of being "this generation's answer to sexpot rock diva Pat Benatar."
Shania doesn't deny that there are other influences in her music. "The Woman In Me had its obvious country elements, but it had its obvious rock elements, too," says Shania, 33.
"There's a lot of variety on the album. It goes from country to new traditional country to a very pop country. People want something different, something fresh."
But for Shania, hone is where the heart is. She insists country music is her home.
"I consider myself a country artist," she insists flatly. "That music was always such a big part of me growing up. I took to what was most comfortable to me - and that was country.
"It was the gist of my entire childhood career, as I sang on every country music television and radio show my mother could get me involved with. I loved Stevie Wonder and The Carpenters, but Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton were just as big an influence."
In fact, Shania views Dolly as her ultimate role-model. "I think Dolly Parton has been my biggest all-around influence, just because she's done everything," says Shania.
"She's in movies, she writes hit songs, she's a great performer, she's got a great personality, she's got a great voice, Dolly just does everything."
Shania's been doing just about everything, too. And, it's paid off handsomely. In the six years since the release of her debut album Shania Twain, the Canadian crooner has:
* Sold more than 27 million albums around the world - 22 million in the U.S.
* Scored a string of six No. 1s - including the monster hits "Any Man of Mine," "(If You're Not in It For Love) I'm Outta Here!," "Love Gets Me Every Time" and "You're Still the One."
* Launched a successful world tour that has been seen by 1.5 million people in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe. Last year alone, Shania's road show grossed nearly $ 28 million and was seen by almost a million people. This year added more than $ 7 million to the pot.
* Graced the covers of a host of magazines, including Cosmopolitan, which named Shania its "Fun, Fearless Female of the Year."
* Hosted her own prime-time CBS special, Shania Twain's Winter Break, which drew banner ratings.
* Collected dozens of awards - including three Grammys, two ACMs, three American Music Awards, 16 Canadian Country Music Awards and six Juno Awards.
* Scooped up two special diamond awards at the ACMs for being the first woman to ever have two back-to-back albums sell more than 10 million - The Woman in Me and Come on Over.
It's overwhelming, and something I'd never thought I would ever achieve," says Shania of this latest milestone. "It's certainly something that only comes along once in a lifetime, and so far, only in my lifetime. I'm just totally thrilled. It's a career highlight for me."
It's a career that began when she was a toddler. "I remember being put up on top of a countertop by my mother when I was 3," recalls Shania. "I would always sing out loud to the jukebox. Those are the earliest versions of a performance that I'd ever done."
At 8, she was performing locally around the Northern Ontario mining communities of Sudbury and Timmins - approximately 250 to 500 miles north of Toronto - and by 11 she was working the tavern circuit. "I was actually a professional," recalls Shania. "I was doing telethons, little fairs and country shows locally, but I was getting paid and I was working. I had quite the little country music career on the go."
After her parents died in a car accident, Shania landed a job singing at Deerhurst Resort, in Muskoka, Ontario, that served as her springboard to stardom. She spent three years there honing her craft and looking after her family.
"That's where I learned how to perform for real," Shania says. "I learned to get over so many inhibitions that you really have to get over if you want to be a professional. It was school for me."
Eventually, Shania turned her attention to Nashville and landed a deal with Mercury Nashville after power Music City lawyer Dick Frank was knocked out by her audition.
In 1993, Shania released Shania Twain to little fanfare - and undertook a 40-date promotional tour with label mates Toby Keith and John Brannon. The album didn't meet with immediate success. But she met Robert "Mutt" Lange, a producer who'd made his mark in the pop and rock worlds creating hit records for acts including AC/DC, The Cars, Def Leppard and Billy Ocean.
One direction he hadn't yet tried was country music - and Shania was game. The couple fell in love during the process of penning and recording such classic hits as "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" and "Any Man of Mine" for The Woman in Me. Six months after they met, they married in December 1993.
The Woman in Me was released in 1995, and the hits began pilling up. The record eventually became the best-selling album every by a female country artist.That year Shania established another first - she refused to tour. Instead, she decided to wait until the release of her third album, 1997's Come on Over.
"It was a very good decision not to tour in '95," she told a reporter. "If I had toured then, the tour this year would not have been nearly as exciting."
In January 1998, Shania personally handpicked a nine-piece band - including three fiddle players - and began four months of rehearsals near her home in upstate New York. On May 29, 1998, she kicked off the tour in Sudbury, Ontario, just north of her hometown of Timmins. The powerful two-and-a-half hour performance received rave reviews. For Shania, it was the ultimate payoff, and one she still enjoys.
"Getting up onstage every night is the highlight of my career - every single night," she says. "It's what I live for. When you're on the road and you have a high profile, you're a prisoner of your career. You can't go anywhere. I basically just stay on the bus. There's not really much I can do in public. So to get up onstage and party with the fans is what I live for. It's the best."
But Shania's appeal isn't limited to country fans. She's also tasted crossover success, particularly with her huge crossover hit "You're Still the One." The song reached the top spot on the country charts and No. 2 on the pop charts. The pop world also embraced her when she participated in VH1's Divas Live special, video and album. Shania sang alongside fellow Canadian Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan and Carole King.
Even the Grammys recognized her pop appeal, nominating Shania in January in three country categories as well as three overall categories.
At the moment, life couldn't be sweeter for Shania. Come on Over remains in the Top 5 after 80 weeks. Mega-hits "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" are still climbing the pop charts. They'll likely be joined by another when "You've Got a Way" is released this month as a single from the soundtrack of the latest Julia Roberts film, Notting Hill.
When her tour ends July 4, Shania will fly to her new home in Switzerland - a castle she bought last year with Mutt.
"It was a decision we made for the sake of the studio," Shania says, explaining why they're selling their home in the Adirondacks of New York State. "It all boils down to where we want to spend the rest of our lives making music."
She plans to begin work on her fourth album - including a Christmas album due this year. Shania and Mutt are also looking for an Ontario cottage near the singer's old Deerhurst stomping grounds in Muskoka.
Despite her international pop success, the sizzling singer says her heart is still in country. "I can honestly say that I would be disappointed if I wasn't being recognized by the country world, because we've come such a long way together," says Shania.
"It's been such a time for both of us because my music has been so different for country and sometimes controversial for the industry. But it wasn't the fans that just ruled all the way. I mean the industry didn't control what happened to me, the fans did."
"I think that country music has the best fans in the whole world."
CLICK HERE FOR PICTURESMY SHANIA TWAIN EXPERIENCE
Jessie Leiss 19, Request Magazine, May 1999
On December 5th I went to yet another Shania concert. It was the 3rd one in six months. It was the biggest concert too. I was in the midst of 25,000 screaming fans. There were also about 1,000 security guards. When Shania hit the stage I was in complete awe of her. I just love the fact of being in the same room as her.
I was pretty far away so I was usually always watching through my binoculars. As I was looking at the lovely Shania I noticed that people, basically little kids, were lined up at the bottom of the stage. Shania was bending down and collecting the many gifts that her fans were handing her. I was thinking to myself Damn I should've brought her something. Then I remembered I had pictures of my "Shania Twain Bedroom" in my purse. I had brought the pictures to show my boyfriend's friend. I looked over to Jason, my boyfriend, and said I'm going to try and get down to the stage. He thought I was crazy because there were so many security guards, but he knows how much I love Shania Twain so he let me go on my adventure.
I walked down a long set of stairs and encountered a female security guard. She told me that nobody without floor seats was allowed down. I showed her my pictures and said I really needed to get up front. The nice security guard then directed me to a place called the Guest Desk. This was the place you had to go for special purposes of getting down front. There was a lady there with a pass that would give you authorization down there. I immediately showed the lady my pictures. She was truly amazed. She said I've never seen anything like this and then she said let's go see Shania. She took my hand and led me through the crowd. Lots of security guards checked out her special pass. She put me in the front row and said just watch the show from here until Shania motions for you to come to the stage. I was actually in the front row!
I watched Shania sing about three songs from front row center. I was standing there in complete amazement. I could not believe that I was actually a few feet away from my favorite star. Shania was singing "Any Man Of Mine" when she made eye contact with me. That was my cue to go up to the stage. Shania then bent down to my level and took my pictures from me. She then stood up and began looking through all of my pictures. After she was done she smiled and nodded at me. Then she bent down right in front of me and shook my right hand. While she was shaking my hand I put my left hand on her leg. I don't know why I did this, but hey not many people actually get to say that they touched Shania Twain's leg so I feel privileged. Then after she shook my right hand she smiled at me again and then she shook my left hand. I was totally shaking. I actually got to touch her!!
I have since told this story to everyone I know. That night was pretty much the thrill of my life. Someday I wish I could actually meet Shania. That is my main goal in life. In the words of Ms. Twain, "I'm Outta Here!"
STARDUM, SEX APPEAL & SPELL SHANIA
By Kimmy Wix
Back in 1981, Barbara Mandrell called on George Jones when she sang "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool." Almost 20 years later, Shania Twain's anthem could possibly be "I'm Country And Pop - Even Cooler!" Perhaps fans of the country/pop crossover princess will be able to better decide for themselves after having seen her long anticipated TV special, Shania Twain's Winter Break, on CBS-TV. And sorry, George - Shania opted for the Backstreet Boys and Elton John for help.
First off, don't expect the special to flaunt the sultry, pussy-cat look and Madonna mania we all witnessed from her recent Grammy Awards performance. For 33-year-old Shania, who's proven that performing live is as easy as selling albums, her first television special promises to be quite the plushless production, as well as one which unveils a wardrobe that at least chalks up a PG rating. Reeling in fans of all ages, however, is perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of her entire career. That factor alone made for choosing the guest lineup and feeling comfortable in front of the TV cameras all the better.
"The thing that's important for me is the type of fans that are at any of my concerts are all age groups and all types of people. I didn't have to cater to the audience when I was choosing the guests. I could choose them based on who I really loved. And I knew my audience was going to like them because I have such a diverse audience anyway. So I didn't have to worry about that."
The "no-worries" came from demanding an at-home feel on stage and choosing her long-time influence Elton John and the groovin' Backstreet Boys, whose music Shania plays to motivate herself prior to her own concerts.
"I have cameras on me every night during the live concerts, so I'm not nervous at the cameras at all," she admits about doing the TV special. "But television makes me a little bit nervous because I don't have the control that I usually do in the live concerts. There's just a lot more freedom when you're in your own environment. You can say what you want. You can be silly and goofy. I don't know - whatever you're in the mood to be in - the stuff that goes on onstage in this special as far as the band and me, running around. And who cares if my hair is a bit messy. I just wasn't as particular on this special as maybe I would be on other television things that I would do. That made me more relaxed and feel more at ease. When you're live, it's okay when your hair is not right all the time and maybe your chin is shiny or whatever. I don't really pay that much attention to myself in that regard when I do my live stuff. It's the live Shania,"
She continues to explain of the Winter Break special. "It wasn't staged and that's what is so great about it. On most television shows there is so much instruction that it makes you nervous, where with this, I just had free rein. It was my stage - the same stage I have every night in concert. So everything around me was very familiar. I didn't have to edit any of my songs or do anything that was unfamiliar. So it was pretty much as good as you're going to get as far as live performances go.
"Of course what makes it thrilling is having the guests that I had, because they are people that I'm truly sincere fans of - not people that I chose for any other reason than just the fact that I'm such a huge fan. I introduce them in ways that are very sincere. I really do listen to the Backstreet Boys before I go on stage at night. It pumps me up. I just listen to the whole album while I get ready. And Elton John is always in my CD player - one album or another of his. It was a dream come true to have him there."
Shania met John a while back when the two were back-to-back guests at the same radio station. Elton was still on the air while Shania was listening in the car on her way to the show. She began to wonder if she would maybe meet him in the hallway. Luckily, he was leaving when she was showing up. "The first thing he did was he started singing 'You're Still The One.' I was just so flattered that he knew my song. It seemed like somewhat of a fantasy for someone like him to be singing my lyrics and my music."
Shania's wide array of musical interests and influences are undeniably the factors that create her own versatile sound - an issue that she repeatedly has to explain.
"I've never ever wanted to be boxed or restricted by what my audience expected of me, or the industry or anyone for that matter," she ponders. "I would get quite bored if I had to do the same thing all the time. I like change, so if I couldn't change my clothes, change my hair and change my music or whatever, I would be really bored. There are many songs on this album (Come On Over, now an 11-million-plus seller), and when you start having so much music on one album - it's over an hour of music - boy, it would get quite boring song after song if it's repetitive. So I really like to be diverse, and I like to change. Think about how long it takes to write an album like that. I mean I couldn't spend that many months writing about the same things and the same moods. So to keep myself interested, I like to be diverse, and I do listen to so many different styles of music."
Compared to Shania's earlier years in Canada, where she first launched her career singing in local night clubs as early as the age of 8, the touring game has become quite different and diverse, too. Remember, it was only a short time ago that many industry insiders questioned if Shania would be as successful live on stage as she was via her hit recordings such as "You're Still The One," "From This Moment On," "Don't Be Stupid," her latest single, "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "Any Man Of Mine," her first country No. 1. Last year's tour, however, surprisingly reeled in million.
"It's actually been very fun," she quickly points out. "Of course, my early days of touring before I was a recording artist, I was pushing amps around and traveling in vans - a very crude lifestyle. But I wouldn't say it was that difficult, because I was young and having fun. The difference now is that it's more comfortable. But I'm having fun still. I've always enjoyed live performance, so that's nothing new. What's more exciting now is that the people in the audience know the music and it's my music. I'm not so sure if that's anything I've learned. It's just never tiring and boring doing my music over and over again. Other than that, it's as wonderful as I thought it would be."
When Shania first took the stage in Canada, however, she wasn't so "in control." It was both her parents, who were later killed in a automobile crash when Shania was 21, and nearby club owners who offered her such early opportunities. "When you're a kid in Canada, you can't go into a club, let alone get up on stage and sing," she remembers. "When there was a good band in town, my parents would get permission and ask the club if they minded if I came in to sing. Lots of times the band would play past after they started closing the bar and they'd stop serving. But the band would usually play while everybody finished their last-call drinks. There's about an hour there and the band would be tired then anyway and everybody was drunk," she laughs. "So they were happy to have me come up and sing. I would do that quite often."
Those early years of struggle and mustard sandwich-eating days have undoubtedly changed for the multi-Grammy Award-winning artist. In just over a year, her sophomore Mercury disc Come On Over, the follow-up to her also huge-selling The Woman In Me, passed the seven-million mark in sales and torpedoed Shania into the mainstream. She scored an MTV nomination; won the Sexiest Video award from VH-1; picked up Billboard's Female Artist of the Year; and landed the cover of Rolling Stone. (The last female country star to take such cover honors was Dolly Parton in 1980.) Recently though, the mainstream for Shania has branched into a rolling river - garnering her such accolades as hits on the pop charts and being nominated for a whopping six Grammy Awards, three of which she won for not only her country success, but her crossover fame as well. Obviously, keeping it all in perspective is a daily chore for Cosmopolitan magazine's Fun, Fearless Female of the Year.
"Oh yeah, it's actually not that difficult to do," she explains. "I'm working very hard and I take very little time to myself. So it's not like I'm taking time off ever to play and enjoy the fruits of my labor, I guess. I'm really not getting all wrapped up in that. I'm not a big spender anyway, so if I go buy a horse now...yeah, I'll probably buy an expensive one, but it's not like anything has changed. I still love horses and love all the same things. I don't like clothes shopping and I never will. It's not like all of a sudden, it's like I have all these new interests because I have money and I'm famous. I don't expect to be treated any differently. As a matter of fact, I find it more annoying to be treated like a celebrity than to just be treated normally. I'd much rather be left alone and I don't need to be catered to. I like my independence. I don't know whether it's because I came from something so basic," she continues. "Our lifestyle was so basic when we were growing up. Now, as an adult, fame or no fame, wealth or no wealth, I am happy about where I came from. I learned a great deal at a very young age about how to appreciate what you get and what you earn. And I sincerely appreciate where I am.
"The biggest song of my career to date is "You're Still The One," and that was my crossover hit," she further explains. "So it's really cool to see it translating to something like the Grammy nominations. (Shania received three nods each in both the country and pop categories). I can honestly say that I would be disappointed if I wasn't being recognized by the country world, because we've come such a long way together. It's been such a time for both of us because my music has been so different for country and sometimes controversial for the industry. And it was the fans that just ruled all the way. I mean the industry didn't control what happened to me, the fans did."
Shania's gratitude toward her fans and sterling success also falls hand in hand, however, with more appreciation for herself in the midst of what's turned into an incredibly hectic lifestyle. The consideration of "slowing down" to a degree is not out of the question.
"I keep saying 'I am so tired,' but it's not like I'm physically tired," she admits. "I'm not, because I'm young,and I've got energy. I'm a very energetic person, and there's a lot of energy around me with the fans and everything like that. And I'm not complaining, because as many hardships as I've had, I've had at least equally the same amount of wonderful times, if not more. I guess I started at such a young age, I really feel old," she laughs. "I just feel older than I am because I've lived such a full life already. My husband, Mutt, always says 'Don't think about slowing down because you are so young. You'll be bored stiff if you don't keep things going.' He's very, very right."
Interviewed by Lorraine Kelly, GMTV, 28/4/99
My next guest has sold more than 18 million records. She's the world's biggest female selling artist, she's best known I suppose, for her music and also for showing off her belly button. And she's very comfortable in black leather. Wonderful girl. Shania Twain it's great to see you.
Shania - (laughs)
Very good to see you, you're looking incredibly well. You were at the premiere last night for Notting Hill.
Shania - Yes.
Because you've got one of the songs in the movie.
Shania - Yeah I've got a song on the soundtrack.
So how was it?
Shania - It was wonderful, the movie is great, it's great fun, a lot of laughs. It's a must see and I'm sure I'll see it a few more times myself.
I'm sure, absolutely. 18 million records, that is incredible. I mean it really is. Is it all you thought it would be this, y'know when you were kind of struggling and trying to break through and all that. Now that you've got the success, what's it like?
Shania - It's been a very long time of course. I've been singing from the age of eight years old, professionally. So, it's been a long career so far. And the success part of it has happened really just quite recently, so all of that is a bit overwhelming. But great fun. And it's wonderful to finally have made it in a sense with music, which is what I love to do.
Well exactly. And especially as you do write it. I mean you do all of it, it's all coming from you.
Shania - Yeah. I'm very involved. Very involved with all of my videos and artistically involved with everything in my career.
Yeah, which is great because then you've got control nobody else is telling you what to do. But you were singing as you said from the age eight. But then you kind of stopped for a little while didn't you, because you were bringing up your brothers. Brothers and sister, you were looking after them?
Shania - Yeah. We had a terrible accident in our family. We lost both our parents..ah..eleven years ago.
What age were you then?
Shania - I was twenty one at the time. But my brothers were thirteen and fourteen years old. So they were very young and too young to be out on their own. So I took them in for a couple of years, a few years actually, until they got out on there own. And of course with my type of career, which takes me on the road a lot, I'm travelling most of the time. I kinda had to put that on hold and take care of them, but it's funny how things work out, I got a lot of songwriting done during that time.
Yeah, I would imagine you would especially dreadful dreadful thing to have to go through, but do you think from that horrible experience you were able to persuade, you know, all your emotions come out in your songs.
Shania - I think so, and I think at twenty one it's difficult to really write music from a depth that you need to write them at, in order for the world to really relate to your music.I mean at twenty one you havent really experienced a life's worth of experiences yet. So going through that difficult time I think it matured me a great deal of course and y'know aged me in a sense experience wise, emotionally anyway.
Of course it does.
Shania - Or anything you do artistically, after all, it's an extension of you.
You're much more than an older sister to your brothers then?
Shania - Yeah. I'm kind of a sister/mom I guess. I'll be that forever.
Shania - Of course they're grown now but I'll always play that role in a sense. And I mean we're a closer family and we dont have our parents to rely on whenever there's something going on in our family. We have to kinda pull together and it's brought us a lot closer in a sense, more than most sister and brothers are.
I should imagine you would be. When was it the first big sort of break for you, what was the big break there?
Shania - The big break-through for me was when I was, when my label, my record label said ok go ahead, they gave me the freedom to record my own music. Because the first album that I did, I did sort of the route that a lot of people do when they first do an album and they don't neccessarily have the trust of their label yet, as a songwriter.
Shania - And I recorded other peoples music, didn't really work for me as a songwriter but it was a blessing in disguise. If it would have worked for me maybe they never would have listened to my music. (laughs)
I understand yeah.
Shania - But I got a chance to record my own music and that was the album that hit really big and got me started. So now from now on, I'll be able to write my own music and have the trust of the people behind me and I've got their full confidence now at this point of course in my career. And my husband, who is my producer as well, and he co-writes with me as well, he was the key in all of that, he convinced everybody to listen to me. (laughs)
We're gonna hear your latest song after the break. It's great to see you. Thanks very much.
Shania - Thank you.
SHANIA PERFORMED:That Dont Impress Me Much (Original version)
SHANIA SOARS IN CALGARY
By Anika Van Wyk, Calgary Sun, March 30th 1999
Shania Twain don't impress me much - she impresses me a whole heck of a lot.
Twain made a triumphant return to Calgary with her close-to-sold-out concert last night at the Saddledome. Even though I had seen the show four times previously (twice in Calgary, twice in Sudbury), Twain still managed to thrill.
Instead of being worn down from her long world tour, Twain has become even better.
From the moment Twain, dressed in black and green leopard print, burst onto the stage singing her latest hit, Man! I Feel Like a Woman, the show was in high gear. Some artists save the pyrotechnics for the finale, but Twain has the appeal and confidence to blast them off from the get-go.
The changes she has made since her visit last summer are fairly subtle. The most noticeable is the T-shaped catwalk. Not only does it give the Canadian superstar more room to roam, it also brings her closer to the crowd. From the runway that extends into the audience, she's just feet away from her adoring fans. It also allows her to accept flowers.
"It's great to be back here.... I expect you to do lots of singing, dancing and screaming," Twain told the crowd.
Despite sounding like she has a bit of a cold, Twain's energy level didn't seem to suffer. She's constantly moving around the stage, which is especially great for those seated behind the open stage.
But the biggest thrill came to three hunky male hams Twain pulled onstage. She brought the trio up just before singing That Don't Impress Me Much. The men couldn't believe their luck as Twain gently flirted with them.
"This guy is really built," she said as she patted the arms and chest of one of the lovestruck men. For being good sports, she posed for a Polaroid with them while still onstage.
Last night also contained a surprise for Twain.
Right after singing her mega-hit Any Man of Mine, she recognized her brother Darryl in the crowd. She didn't know he was in town on business and gave him a big hug while introducing him.
"He's cute and single, but I'm watching out," she said with a laugh.
Leahy have also learned from their experience on the road. The Canadian Celtic family group have been opening for Twain since May. Their showmanship is a little more slick with the addition of a little dramatized sibling rivalry between the four brothers and four sisters.
Black Diamond's Pamela Kuntz, 13 - who won a contest to sing a solo onstage last night - did a solid version of Twain's What Made You Say That and was rewarded with hearty applause from the home-town crowd. Kuntz sounded overwhelmed when she spoke to the Sun mere minutes after leaving the stage.
"It was the greatest feeling of a lifetime," she gushed. "You feel like you own Calgary."
Maybe so, but she'll have to share it with Shania.
SHANIA COMES OVER AGAIN
Betsy Powell, Toronto Star, March 24th 1999
Talk about legs!
And we don't mean Shania Twain's rare gam flash at last month's Grammy Awards when the country queen, shrink-wrapped in Versace-biker chic, performed one of her hits. It's her latest record that's got legs. When Twain's world tour touched down here seven months ago, the weather was hazy and warm, the loonie was lagging badly and her rock-flavoured album, Come On Over, was hovering around 18th on the charts in Canada and the United States.
Flash forward to last night.
Twain was back in Toronto for yet another sold-out show, this time in front of 19,000 effusive fans at the new Air Canada Centre. The 95-minute, glitch-free show varied little from her carefully scripted appearances last August at Molson Amphitheatre. Yet the reason for her encore performance was easy to understand: 16 months after its November, 1997 debut, Come On Over has rocketed into the Top 5 on the album charts in North America alongside Britney Spears, Lauryn Hill, Eminem and TLC. To date, Twain's CD has sold 10 million copies.
Most successful woman in country music history
At the rate it's going, Come On Over is likely to close in on Twain's 1995 breakthrough, The Woman In Me, the 13 million-selling CD that turned the 33-year-old Timmins, Ontario -raised singer into a household name and earned her the distinction of being the most successful woman in country music history. And so there she was again last night, snapping her long mane of hair (extensions) across her back, flaunting and romping her way across her repertoire of countrified pop that was delivered just as it sounds on record: like rock-lite masquerading as country.
Tugging young fans on to the stage, forcing a spotlight on the crowd or plugging a local guitar maker, Twain looked even more confident and relaxed than she did last summer.
Opting for casual attire and reverting to pants - she hates her legs - she seemed more girl-next-door than the sex bombshell of her videos.
"I'm in a silly mood," giggled Twain, who was backed by nine musicians.
She was also in the mood for pushing patriotic buttons - cramming her homespun banter with enough Can-Con to make federal regulators quiver with delight.
"I'm so disappointed that I never got to play the (Maple Leaf) Gardens," she told the crowd. "Bummer."
Her ability to connect with the masses was on display last night, leaving little doubt as to why her fan base has exploded in the past year. Among the many reasons:
Touring. Since launching her world tour in Sudbury last May, the bouncy brunette has performed 110 dates in Canada, the United States and some select festival gigs in Europe. Last week, Come On Over was the top-selling album in Australia. The Canadian leg wraps up in Vancouver on April 3.
Crossover. Defunct Toronto country station CISS-FM, an early Twain supporter, no longer exists. But today there are many more radio stations playing Twain's pop-oriented material. They include CISS-FM's successor on the dial, the Top 40 formatted KISS-FM. Her exposure on pop radio is wooing a rising number of teenage girls who like Twain's 'girl-power' message.
Video. Like video-genic stars Duran Duran, Madonna and Michael Jackson before her, Twain's male fantasy stock soars every time she poses seductively for the camera, whether in Hindu-garb (From This Moment On) or roaming the desert swathed in a leopard-print number that reveals the requisite midriff (That Don't Impress Me Much). In Canada, Twain's sexy videos play on both CMT and adult contemporary channel MuchMoreMusic.
(In his book, Three Chords And The Truth, author Laurence Leamer writes that it took Twain five hours to fit into her skin-tight bell-bottom pants for the video of "If You're Not In It For Love, I'm Outta Here.")
Image. Speaking of Madonna, Twain has developed a brilliant sense of how to manipulate her image. Unlike the Material Mom, Twain doesn't wait for a new album to change her spots, an approach far more suited to the public's shrinking attention span.
Self-promotion. Twain has been extremely accessible to the media, granting interviews, starring in her own TV special, dueting with famous pop stars, attending award shows and posing for fashion shoots and calendars.
COME ON OVER, SHANIA
Joshua Ostroff, Ottawa Sun, March 17th 1999
When Shania Twain takes to the Corel Centre stage tonight, it will mark her first ever appearance in the capital city. An event of this magnitude naturally calls for a little, ahem, navel-gazing.
After all, Twain's belly-button is what brings us to the pop cultural nexus where we now find ourselves.
It's what sets Twain apart from her new country contemporaries; what brought future husband (and record producer) "Mutt" Lange to her doorstep (after seeing her in a music video); what prompted thousands of video requests and poster sales. Which is not to discredit Twain's sizable musical and vocal talent (a rarity in an image-obsessed profession populated by the Spice Girls and Madonna) or her mythic rags-to-riches story.
But it was her stunning good looks that gave her the public profile needed to become the biggest selling female country star in history. And it is those same good looks that are allowing her to cross over into Madonna's pop territory with so little backlash.
Country music may be a huge seller with a ravenous demographic but it has very little crossover appeal. Sure, Garth Brooks moved a million copies of his greatest hits in the first week, besting a record held by Pearl Jam, and is approaching the Beatles in total sales. But he still gets no respect outside of country music circles.
Twain, however, has eschewed her Daisy Duke-style good ol' girl denim in favour of diva glam -- leopard print and pseudo-S&M gear -- and is roping in a whole new fanbase in the process.
But before there was a midriff capable of moving mountains of CDs, a little girl named Eileen spent her afternoons in Timmins dreaming of becoming a singing sensation.
Her parents split when she was two and a few years later she was adopted by her mother's second husband, an Ojibway Indian who left his cultural, if not genetic, mark on her. Twain says she spent her summer weekends playing with cousins on the Matagami Reserve, her adopted grandfather teaching her to track rabbits.
When Twain's later overstatements about her native ancestry were challenged, she retorted in a statement to the Timmins Press: "I don't know how much Indian blood I actually have in me, but as the adopted daughter of my father Jerry, I became registered as a 50% North American Indian ... That is my heart and my soul, and I'm very proud of it."
The Twains were quite poor, often running out of food. But she held on to her music, sitting alone in her bedroom and banging away at her guitar. Her mother, hoping it might be her daughter's ticket out of poverty, became a typical stage-mom, driving her eight-year-old to any stage that would have her. She even claims to have been awakened at 1 a.m. and shuttled to local bars to sing after liquor hours.
But when Twain began entering adulthood, and preparing to fulfill her dream of singing for a living, her parents died in a tragic car wreck in 1987. Like a real-life Party of Five, Twain postponed her promising career to raise her three younger siblings alone. She made ends meet singing at a resort and after a few years, when the kids were a little older, she traded in her birth name for the more apt Shania -- meaning "I'm on my way" in Ojibwa -- and moved to Nashville.
She was signed and released an eponymous album that was mostly ignored. But a video for one of the singles, featuring Twain in all her telegenic glory, caught the eye of Lange, a producer known for his work with Def Leppard and Bryan Adams.
Within a year of their first meeting, the two were wed. But it was a creative union as well as a romantic one. They co-wrote all the songs for Twain's follow-up album and in a reversal of the usual sophomore jinx, 1995's The Woman in Me went on to sell over 10 million copies.
Without any touring, Twain dominated the country charts for over two years and this album alone made her the biggest selling female country artist. She began raking in the awards. Twain followed up that mega-hit with last year's Come on Over, a not-so-subtle reminder of her crossover potential. And it worked.
Her new, less-countrified image, featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, earned Twain six Grammy nominations (and two awards) and quite possibly the biggest pop hit from a country star ever with You're Still the One. She's now a pop icon in the Madonna mold, her face a tabloid fixture, her voice all over the radio, her body taped to high school boys' lockers.
Nashville insiders may gripe that despite a slight twang, Twain's not really playing country music. They would be right. But she's still the best thing to happen to the country music business in a long time.
SHANIA MAKES COUNTRY SEXIEST SOUND AROUND
Kathy McCabe, Feb 7th 1999
Shania Twain has revolutionised contemporary country music and sold more than 17 million albums worldwide. With big rock beats, pop melodies and a high-voltage sex appeal, she rivals Madonna, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey as a modern diva.
On the eve of her first Australian tour, the sultry Canadian singer revealed how she is using her success to redress the poverty of her own upbringing. While other celebrities become distanced from their fans as they become famous, Shania has bridged the gap by quietly taking action to help children whose families struggle to feed and educate them. The 33-year-old songwriter has donated tickets for each of her sold-out Australian concerts to the Salvation Army to help fund programs that will put food on the table for disadvantaged families.
"I have been trying to find ways I can use my situation as a celebrity to expose and educate people about their own local hungry kids," she said. "I can relate because it happened to me growing up, although in our neighbourhood we were the exception rather than the rule."
Shania's rise to the top of the international charts reads like a dream.
The second eldest of five children, she was raised in Ontario where her mother and Ojibway Indian stepfather were born. From an early age, she would grab a guitar and retreat to her bedroom to sing and write songs until her fingers bled. Shania's mother quickly noticed the extent of her daughter's talent and shuttled her "everywhere they could get me booked". Legend has it an eight-year-old Shania would be dragged out of bed at 1am to sing with the house band at a local club after the nightly alcohol curfew came into effect.
Shania's singing career became even more important when her parents were killed in a car accident. At 21, Shania assumed the responsibility of raising her younger siblings. A full-time job singing at the local Deerhurst resort gave her a solid education in performance as she rendered material from Gershwin through to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In 1990 when the children were old enough to look after themselves, Eilleen (as she then was) adopted the Ojibway name of Shania, which means "I'm on my way." A tape of her original songs landed her a Nashville recording contract but Shania's debut album only featured one of her tunes and was in the artist's words, "a compromise".
The course of her career changed dramatically when a distant admirer, rock producer Mutt Lange, rang and asked to work with her. Now her husband, the man responsible for hit albums by AC/DC, Bryan Adams and Foreigner, among others, helped Shania realise her dream of marrying her love of country and pop into a new sound.
"The albums are the way they are because of the partnership," she said. "There are certain things which are going to be obviously me no matter who I work with. But the sound of both The Woman In Me and Come On Over is Mutt's sound."
Shania's songs run the gamut from beautiful ballads of love won and lost to tongue-in-cheek digs at the attentions of men. Her new single, That Don't Impress Me Much, mischievously suggests even Brad Pitt wouldn't get Shania's blood boiling.
"No, I haven't got anything against him, I am totally infatuated with him," she laughed. "He is one of the most beautiful men alive - that line was just a bit of fun."
But there is also a healthy dose of social conscience in her lyrics. On her current album, Come On Over, the track Black Eyes Blue Tears addresses domestic violence.
"I know what I am talking about with that song without going into the details," she said. "It was my hope I could write a song that encouraged and inspired women who were being abused."
Despite the sensual image she portrays in her video clips and her raunchy live performance, the self-avowed tomboy said she has only recently become comfortable with being a woman. Shania would spend summers working with her father in a re-forestation crew in the Canadian bush, adeptly wielding an axe, chainsaw and hammer as well as any man.
"I really did come through my teen years feeling insecure about being a female; I grew up as a tomboy and didn't welcome the changes to a girl," she said. "In the last few years, I have come to feel confident about being female and I am very happy about being a girl."
Like Garth Brooks, the performer's American concerts are a highly energetic and theatrical event. In Australia, they will feature more than 100 young local singers and drummers for the anthem, God Bless The Child, inspired by her parents' tragic death. They may even feature a marriage or two, as her single From This Moment On has become the most popular song for weddings.
"There have been a few proposals during my concerts and I know of one wedding because I got the couple up on stage," she laughed. "The bride was in the full wedding dress and I think they had the ceremony in the hall with a justice of the peace or someone. It was great fun."
SHANIA'S STUNNING RISE
David Hinkley, New York Daily News, 03/02/1999
How one country singer broke the rules and became a pop superstar
If Shania Twain were a baseball pitcher, she'd be throwing curveballs on her CBS TV special Wednesday night.
Twain arrived on the scene as a country singer about 1993, and in two or three years built the most successful career this side of Garth Brooks. One record later, she was remixing country songs into dance versions - and last week on the Grammys, she broke out as a black-leather babe who was a country mile removed from Tammy Wynette, in style and in sound.
There are a couple of rules said to be absolute in country music. One is that your audience will be 100% faithful to you, long after you stop making records and can eat only soft food, as long as you're 100% faithful to them. But if fans see you cast a wandering eye to another style of music, it's trouble. Ask Dolly Parton.
So that's the first rule Twain seems to have broken. Her Grammy segment was closer to Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" than "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under." But the album where she started courting the pop and dance markets, 1998's "Come On Over," has sold 8 million copies - a lot of them, presumably, still to country fans.
Another rule is that in country music, you have to tour. The fans must see you. But after Twain recorded her 1995 CD, "The Woman in Me," she stayed home, and it has sold 11 million copies. That's tied with Alanis Morissette for the most ever by a solo woman.
When Twain did tour, starting in 1998, her outfits featured her navel - which presumably is how she landed on the cover of Cosmo, which doesn't pay much attention to country music, but loves sexy women. So what did Twain wear for Cosmo? A pink one-piece that's almost demure.
Small wonder she fascinates many people, puzzles others and annoys a few, who see her as a diva-in-progress. But whatever she's doing, she could increase her earnings tenfold if she could bottle and sell it, because in a decade that's been incredibly good to female artists, none has risen higher than this working-class girl from Canada.
Beyond her record sales, she's coming off two Grammys, major magazine covers, a two-year tour that already has sold a million tickets, a spot on high-profile shows like VH1's "Divas," and now her first TV special, featuring the Backstreet Boys and Elton John.
"I always knew my music wasn't just country," Twain says. "I loved Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, but I also listened to Motown, Elton John, the Carpenters. I've been making music since I was a little girl, and it comes from everything I heard. I have a lot of pop influences.
"So it's funny that people say I'm changing to appeal to pop fans, when I haven't really changed at all.
"But a lot of people who were my fans even in the beginning didn't listen to other country artists, anyway, and I think the distinction is in lifestyle. Hard-core country music appeals to people with a hard-core country lifestyle, and that gives you a certain kind of audience . . . the way rap music does.
"When you get into the mainstream, you get people of all types. I've met so many people who tell me they have my CD and Celine Dion's, and Alanis Morissette's. Anyone who listens to the three of us must be coming from a more general lifestyle."
Still, the Shania career requires a balancing act, and the 33-year-old Twain and her husband/ producer, Robert (Mutt) Lange, leave little to the whim of fortune. They write, they produce, they decide what goes where, when and how. It was their decision, for instance, not to tour after "The Woman in Me," despite warnings of career suicide and whispers that Twain can't deliver live.
She dismisses that second whisper as nonsense, noting that she's been performing since she was 8. The no-tour decision, she says, was a specific calculation. Instead of touring, she worked on her next record, which helped her avoid one of the worst traps in music: sophomore slump. You have a huge record, you do a huge tour, you come home exhausted and you somehow have to turn out another record, fast, that everyone will compare to the first one. Sophomore slump was not a problem for Twain.
"It was a very good decision not to tour in '95," she says. "If I had toured then, [the tour] this year would not have been nearly as exciting."
Winning that gamble also gave Twain and Lange the markers they needed to keep calling their own shots - although they also have ended up taking some shots. After the CBS special taped last month, there were reports Twain had acted the diva, annoyed if any spotlight flashed away from her.
"I heard that," she says with a figurative shrug. "The flak comes and goes and I don't feel too affected by it. I'm fairly low-profile and I mind my own business, so I'm not usually a target. Or maybe I'm not that vulnerable because I don't take it too seriously.
"But when it comes to your career and your music, you have to pay attention to details. Because I'm involved as I am, when things go great I can feel great."
She also stresses that for all the reviews her navel has drawn and all the fun of a Rolling Stone cover where she's peeling off her top, her core product must be music.
"If you don't make time to work on the music, nothing else matters," she says. "But the music is what I've always wanted to do, and it reflects the person I am. If I were Roy Orbison, I'd be him. I'm me. You have to be so many things in this business, but when I'm writing and singing songs, I'm not thinking about anything except what I want to say. And I'm so glad people seem to like it."
Perhaps ironically, she says the stage is her favorite place. "It's a total blast. I feel like nothing can go wrong. Even if it goes wrong, it's not wrong. It's just part of the show."
Another curveball from the perfectionist.
"If I enjoyed it and so did the audience, that's enough."
In fact, even though she says the CBS special was fun, she probably won't watch it soon.
"It was a good vibe while it was happening," she says. "But I don't look back."
This Q&A appears at EOnline where you can comment on it.
You've said you wouldn't have been as aggressive about your career if it hadn't been for the tragedy of your parents' death.
Yes, it's very true. When you go through something as drastic and traumatic as that, you realize you have nothing to lose in life. There is nothing left to lose. You become a little numb and unafraid. I definitely went through a period where I was not afraid to try anything. I was not afraid of failing. I was up for any challenge - anything.
Do you still feel that way?
Now you're afraid?
Not so much afraid, but I've regained a lot of my sensitivity. For a couple of years, nothing could have stood in my way.
What was the most courageous thing you ever did to get noticed by the country music scene?
I wore a bare-midriff outfit in the very first video, even though I was warned by my label there might be repercussions.
You mean, they didn't want you to show your belly button?
They didn't come out and say, "No, you can't." It was more like, "We're kind of advising against that. This could be the end of your career. It might not work." And I didn't care, really. I think mostly because I come from Canada, I wasn't aware of the whole Nashville scene. I thought I was going to have the freedom to be myself, to have control over my image and the way I portrayed myself and my music. It didn't turn out to be that way, but I was sort of like, well, if I can't have any control, then what am I doing here at all? I felt I should be myself, ignore the warnings and go with it.
So, what's the craziest outfit you've ever worn?
The most daring I've ever felt was when I wore my first bikini. It wasn't sparse in any way, it was just that I was always so paranoid about that stuff. You know, when you're around 13, you're developing, you're self-conscious. I was the kind of person, when I did wear a bathing suit at the beach, I would wear a cover-up right to the water's edge, then throw it off and jump in.
When did you learn to use your sex appeal to your advantage as a performer?
I've always had a sense of freedom onstage. You're making music, it's very expressive and it all translates into body language.
Are you more subdued in your private life?
Much, much more. I'm more casual and comfortable, I don't wear anything tight in my everyday life.
Garth Brooks once told us that some of the jeans he wears are so tight, he practically needs a winch to get them zipped. Do you ever have to resort to bizarre tactics to get into any outfits?
No. Because even though a lot of them are very contouring, everything I wear has to stretch and move. They have to fit comfortably and can't be constricting. There's no way I'd ever compromise comfort for looks.
Do you work out a lot?
Mostly I just rely on my performance to stay in shape. It's a two-hour show...a long, strenuous show. It's pretty much nonstop energy the whole time. I don't do anything extra. I think I'd be dead right now if I added a workout routine to my life.
How are you holding up after all this time out there touring?
Well, I'm not physically tired. I'm just sort of tired of being on the road, and it's not just this tour. I was doing promotional things for four years before this. Actually, being on a concert stretch is easier than doing promotional tours. I'm comfortable with my show, comfortable with my audience and it's a very nice zone for me to be in. My favorite time of the day is when it's time to go out and sing.
Is your husband on the road with you?
No, he has other things to do. He has his career.
But there has been an issue made of the fact that he doesn't like to be in the limelight and doesn't even like his picture taken. Is that a problem?
My husband is very fortunate in that he's been able to be so successful without having to be in the limelight. I totally relate. If I could have been wealthy and successful without being a star, I'd be satisfied.
Well, since you're definitely in the limelight and it's been said that you and your management are looking toward a "Streisand-size" career, would that include movies?
For now, I'm focusing on what I'm doing and don't even read scripts. Part of the reason I'm not in a rush to do movies is I'm not sure I'd be any good at it.
You've said you've had a lot of offers that you eliminated off the bat, because of either nudity or sex - or both. Do you still feel the same about doing those types of scenes?
Oh, yeah. Although, I actually feel encouraged, because I've seen quite a few movies over the last few years that don't have any of that. I think, Wow! Maybe there is a place for me up there after all.
Speaking of places...You and Mutt recently moved out of your 20-square-mile spread in the Adirondacks and bought a home near Geneva, Switzerland, and another north of Miami. Why?
It came down to the question of where we really wanted to build our dream home. We hadn't built a house on the New York land yet, just a studio, and we started taking the dream home thing much more seriously. With the place in Switzerland, we will still have the four seasons - something we won't get in Florida.
When can you look forward to taking a break?
[Long sigh.] Not till after the Fourth of July. Then I'll have the chance to be a wife - and play mom to my dog and horses.
How many horses do you have?
Four right now.
Where do you keep them?
I'm shipping them to Switzerland in the spring. Florida is not the place for them. It's so hot, and there has to be all kinds of air control for them. It's really, really high maintenance.
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
On a horse and healthy. That's all I can see right now. I think when you're really busy with career, your dreams tend to take you somewhere else - and right now, my dreams are taking me away from work. The grass is always greener on the other side.
SHANIA KICKS INTO A HIGHER GEAR
Excerpt from a Country Weekly article by Wendy Newcomer and Nick Krewen
With a globetrotting tour, awards shows and her own TV special, Shania Twain is a whirlwind of activity.
"This tour's been quite long," Shania adds. "It's been between Canada and the U.S. for this last year. And for this year I will be back into the States, Canada, Australia and Europe."
Shania, whose nonstop schedule includes a spate of TV shows with David Letterman, Rosie O'Donnell and Jay Leno, will finally get a break this summer when the tour ends. But not before she stars in her upcoming CBS special, Shania Twain's Winter Break, March 3 at 8 p.m. Eastern. It's unlike anything she's ever done for television.
"On most TV things that I've ever done, it's been 'This is where we need you to stand. This is where we need you to walk,'" she explains. "There's so much instruction that it makes you nervous. With this show I had free reign. It was my own stage that I have every night in concert. I dressed the way I would dress onstage in my own concert. Everything was very normal and real. I didn't have to edit any of my songs, or do anything that was unfamiliar.I said at the beginning, 'It's very important that we can capture the way I do it live, or else I'm not going to be comfortable with it.'
"I wasn't even stressed at all. It was great. I had a real audience out there. Real fans. So it's pretty much as real as you're going to get it. It's the 'live Shania' -- it wasn't staged."
Shania lets her hair down in this special.
"Who cares if my hair's a bit messy? I just wasn't as particular on this special as maybe I would be on other television things that I would do. When you're live it's OK if your hair's not right all the time. Maybe your chin is shiny -- or whatever. Because I don't really pay all that much attention to myself in that regard when I do my live concert."
Shania's excited about sharing the stage with two of pop's hottest entertainers --- Elton John and the Backstreet Boys.
"These are people that I am truly a sincere fan of," Shania says. "I listen to the Backstreet Boys before I go onstage at night because it pumps me up. And Elton John is somebody who's always in my CD player. He's someone I've listened to my whole life. It was a dream come true to have him there."
Shania recalls her first meeting with the pop megastar. "It was just a fluke that we both were visiting this radio station within the same hour. I was actually in the car on the way to the radio station and somebody said, 'Elton John is here and he's just about finished.'
"I was thinking, 'Wow, maybe I could run into him in the hallway.' And lucky for me, he was just leaving. I ran into him and the first thing he did was start singing 'You're Still the One.' I was just so flattered that he knew my song! From so many miles away and so many worlds away, it seemed somewhat of a fantasy for someone like Elton John to be singing my lyrics and my music. It was great."
Shania remembers the days when no one -- least of all Elton John -- knew who she was.
"In my early days of touring," she says, "I was pushing amps around and traveling in vans. It was a very crude lifestyle. I wouldn't say that it was necessarily difficult. I was young and having fun. Now I'm just more comfortable, but I'm still having fun. I've always enjoyed live performance with my own stage, my own band and an audience. What's exciting now is that the audience knows my music -- and it's my music. So that's the biggest difference. It's as exciting as I always dreamed it would be. It's never tiring. I never get bored when I'm out there onstage. I do the same songs every night -- and I love it every night."
Shania's not the only one who loves it -- Grammy voters handed her six nominations. Trouble is, she's been too busy to realize the star she's become.
"I'm working very hard and I take very little time to myself," she says. "So it's not like I'm taking time off to play and to enjoy the fruits of my labor."
She is, however, enjoying seeing her name on the ballots.
"It's an extended celebration -- like a birthday that lasts for many weeks," Shania says.
Despite her wide appeal, Shania will always have a special place in her heart for her country fans.
"I can honestly say that I would be disappointed if I wasn't being recognized by the country world," she says, "because we've come such a long way together."
Shania Twain's Winter Break on CBS
SHANIA TWAIN'S WINTER BREAK, Shania Twain's first American Network television special, will be broadcast on Wednesday, March 3 (8:00-:900 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The special is a fantasy come true for Shania, who as a young girl in Timmins, Ontario, dreamed of one day vacationing in sun-filled Miami. The entertainment special will feature performances from Twain's seven times platinum album, "Come On Over," as well as a selection of her other signature hits. Joining Twain on stage are legendary performer Elton John and chart-topping success story, the Backstreet Boys. The special was taped in front of an audience in Bayfront Park in Miami.
Among the many songs to be performed by Twain on the special are "Man I Feel Like a Woman," "Honey I'm Home" and "That Don't Impress Me Much." Elton John will perform a medley with Shania of his hit song "Something About The Way You Look Tonight" and "You're Still the One," the multi-Grammy nominated song Twain co-wrote with husband Robert John "Mutt" Lange. John will also accompany Shania on the piano when she performs "Amneris' Letter," from the upcoming album, "Aida," comprised of all-new songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, the Oscar-winning songwriting team behind "The Lion King" soundtrack. The Backstreet Boys will perform their huge hit, "All I Have to Give," and will join Twain on her song "From This Moment On."
In 1998, Shania Twain, already considered the Number One country music star, became a pop success story. After a poverty-stricken childhood in Timmons, Ontario, 21 year-old Shania took on the responsibility of tending to her younger siblings when her parents died in a car accident. Her love of music brought her to Nashville, where she released her first self-titled album, which caught the ear of rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (who eventually became both her producer and her husband).
Together, they collaborated on "The Woman In Me," Twain's record breaking 11-time platinum second album, which won her the Grammy Award for Best Country Album. Her third album "Come On Over" has been nominated for six Grammy Awards, has sold over seven million copies worldwide and has solidified Shania Twain as a dominant voice in pop music. Shania is currently on her first world tour, which has already sold over one million tickets.
Elton John is one of the most successful artists in popular music history. In addition to being the second biggest selling solo artist of all time, he has also received numerous critical accolades and awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Grammy Award and a Tony Nomination. Last February, John was knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to charity and the arts, receiving the title Sir Elton John, CBE. John's 1998 concert tour was just ranked as the top-grossing tour of 1998. In February and March of this year, as a special thank you to his fans, John plans his first ever solo tour (no percussionist). Initial cities include Roanoke, Va., Chattanooga, Tenn., Atlanta and Ft. Myers and Gainesville, Fla.
The Backstreet Boys have dominated the charts throughout the world, having gone multi-platinum in 16 countries and sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. Four years ago, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell formed the Backstreet Boys, inspired in part by Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd. After conquering Europe, the group's American debut album, "Backstreet Boys," became the third best-selling album of 1998.
SHANIA TWAIN'S WINTER BREAK was produced by Red Leaf Productions in association with Ken Ehrlich Productions. Emmy Award-winner Ken Ehrlich, Jon Landau and Barbara Carr are the executive producers. Ehrlich is the producer/writer. Larry Jordan was the director.