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Shania Twain Bio
Eilleen Regina Edwards, professionally known as Shania Twain (born August 28, 1965) is a Canadian singer and songwriter. Twain has sold over 85 million records, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. She is also the best selling female artist in the history of country music, which garnered her honorific titles including the “Queen of Country Pop“.
Twain’s second studio album, 1995’s The Woman in Me, brought her widespread fame. It sold 20 million copies worldwide, spawning hits such as “Any Man of Mine” and earning her a Grammy Award. Twain’s third album, Come On Over, became the best-selling studio album of all time by a female act in any genre and the best-selling country album of all time, selling around 40 million copies worldwide. Come On Over produced several singles, including “You’re Still the One“, “From This Moment On” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!“, and earned Twain four Grammy Awards. Her fourth and latest studio album, Up!, was released in 2002 and, like her previous two albums, was also certified Diamond in the U.S., spawning hits like “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” and “Forever and for Always“.
Twain has received five Grammy Awards, 27 BMI Songwriter awards, stars on Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. She is the only female artist in history to have three consecutive albums certified Diamond by the RIAA. Altogether, Twain is ranked as the 10th best-selling artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era.
In 2004, Twain retired from performing and retreated to her home in Switzerland. In her 2011 autobiography, she cited a weakening singing voice as the reason for not performing publicly. When both her singing and speaking were affected, Twain consulted the Vanderbilt Dayani Center in Nashville. Specialists discovered lesions on her vocal cords and diagnosed her with dysphonia, all treatable with careful rehabilitation. In 2012, Twain returned to the concert stage in her critically acclaimed show Still the One, exclusively at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. In 2015, Twain returned to the road for what she is billing her farewell tour. The Rock This Country tour kicked off on June 5, 2015 in Seattle, Washington and will run through October 27, 2015 in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
After graduating from Timmins High in June 1983, Twain was eager to expand her musical horizons. After the demise of the band Longshot, Twain was approached by a cover band led by Diane Chase called “Flirt” and they toured all over Ontario. Twain also began taking singing lessons from Toronto-based coach Ian Garrett and would often clean his house in payment for her lessons. In the autumn of 1984, Twain’s talents were noticed by Toronto DJ Stan Campbell who wrote about her in a Country Music News article: “Eilleen possesses a powerful voice with an impressive range. She has the necessary drive, ambition and positive attitude to achieve her goals”. Campbell happened to be making an album by Canadian musician (and present-day CKTB radio personality) Tim Denis at the time and Twain was featured on the backing vocals of the song Heavy on the Sunshine. Campbell later took Twain to Nashville to record some demos, which Twain found particularly difficult to finance. She became acquainted with regional country singer Mary Bailey who had had some country chart success in 1976. Bailey had seen Twain perform in Sudbury, Ontario, saying “I saw this little girl up on stage with a guitar and it absolutely blew me away. She performed Willie Nelson‘s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and Hank Williams‘ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry“. Her voice reminded me of Tanya Tucker, it had strength and character, a lot of feeling. She’s a star, she deserves an opportunity”. Bailey later said “She sang a few songs that she had written, and I thought to myself, this kid is like nineteen years old, where does she get this? This is from a person who’s lived sixty years”.
Bailey acquired the contract from Stan Campbell and Twain moved into Bailey’s home on Kenogami Lake where she practised her music every day for hours. In the fall of 1985, Bailey took Twain down to Nashville to stay with a friend, record producer Tony Migliore, who at the time was producing an album for fellow Canadian singer Kelita Haverland and Twain was featured on the backing vocals to the song Too Hot to Handle. She also demo-ed songs with Cyril Rawson but the demos were without success, partly due to Twain’s wish to become a rock singer, not a country artist. After five months she returned to Canada and moved in with Bailey in a flat in downtown Kirkland Lake, not far from Kenogami. There she met rock keyboardist Eric Lambier and drummer Randy Yurko and formed a new band, moving three months later to Bowmanville, near Toronto. In late summer 1986, Mary Bailey arranged for Twain to meet John Kim Bell, a half Mohawk, half American conductor who had close contacts with the directors of the Canadian Country Music Association. Bell recognized Twain’s ability as well as her looks and the two began secretly dating. In the fall of 1986 Twain continued to express her desire to be a pop or rock singer rather than country, which led to her falling out with Mary Bailey for two years. Twain’s first break finally came on February 8, 1987, when Bell staged a fundraiser for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto where Twain performed with Broadway star Bernadette Peters, jazz guitarist Don Ross, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Her performance received little acclaim, but it convinced Bell, who hated pop music, that Twain should stay well away from it and concentrate on country music.
On November 1, 1987, Twain’s mother and stepfather died in a car accident approximately 50 kilometres north of Wawa, Ontario. As a result, Twain moved back to Timmins to take care of her younger siblings and then took them all to Huntsville, Ontario. There, she supported them by earning money performing at the nearby Deerhurst Resort.
1993–94: Shania Twain
A couple of years passed and Twain’s siblings got older and moved out on their own. Twain assembled a demo tape of her songs and her Huntsville manager set up a showcase for Twain to present her material to record executives. She caught the attention of a few labels, including Mercury Nashville Records, who signed her within a few months. During this time, she changed her name to Shania, which was said to be an Ojibwa word which means “on my way”. However, Twain’s biographer, Robin Eggar, writes: “There is a continuing confusion about what ‘Shania’ means and if indeed it is an Ojibwe word or phrase at all. […] There is no mispronounced or misheard phrase in either Ojibwe or Cree that comes close to meaning ‘on my way.’ Yet the legend of her name continues to be repeated in the media to this day and will doubtless provide the obituary headline when Shania eventually passes on.”
Twain’s self-titled debut album was released in 1993 in North America and garnered her audiences outside Canada. Shortly before its release, she sang backing vocals for other Mercury artists, including Jeff Chance‘s 1992 album Walk Softly on the Bridges and Sammy Kershaw‘s 1993 album Haunted Heart. Shania Twain only reached No.67 on the US Country Albums Chart, but it gained positive reviews from critics. The album failed to sell significant copies initially, although Twain’s future success generated enough interest for the album to be certified platinum six years later by the RIAA, denoting sales of over a million. The album yielded two minor hit singles in the United States with “What Made You Say That” and “Dance with the One That Brought You“. The album was more successful in Europe, where Twain won Country Music Television Europe’s “Rising Video Star of the Year” award.
1995–96: The Woman in Me and commercial success
When rock producer Robert “Mutt” Lange heard Twain’s original songs and singing from her debut album, he offered to produce and write songs with her. After many telephone conversations, they met at Nashville’s Fan Fair in June 1993. Twain and Lange became very close within just weeks, culminating in their wedding on December 28, 1993. Lange and Twain either wrote or co-wrote the songs that would form her second studio album, The Woman in Me. Record executives were stunned when they listened to the album. It was unlike anything else in country music.
The Woman in Me was released in the spring of 1995. The album’s first single, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” went to No.11 on the Billboard Country Chart. This was followed by her first Country Top 10 and No.1 hit single, “Any Man of Mine“, which also cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Twain had further hits from the album, including the title track which peaked at No.14 and three additional No.1 hits: “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!“, “You Win My Love“, and “No One Needs to Know“, which was selected for the original soundtrack for the 1996 film Twister, a first for Twain, plus minor country hit “Home Ain’t where His Heart Is (Anymore)” and a re-recorded gospel version of the album track “God Bless The Child” with new lyrics. Meanwhile, in Australia, five of these singles: “Any Man of Mine”, “The Woman in Me”, “I’m Outta Here!”, “You Win My Love” and “God Bless The Child”, were remixed for the Australian pop market, and “I’m Outta Here!” became Twain’s breakthrough hit there, reaching No.5 on the ARIA charts.
As of 2007, the album had sold more than 12 million copies. The album was a quick breakthrough and because of this Twain performed selected international venues and television shows including two CMA Fan Fair performances with Nashville guitarists Randy Thomas (co-writer of the song “Butterfly Kisses“), Dan Schafer, Chris Rodriguez, Russ Taff, Hugh McDonald bass player of Bon Jovi, Dave Malachowski and Stanley T., formerly with The Beach Boys.
Mercury Nashville’s promotion of the album was based largely upon a series of music videos. During this period, Twain made major television appearances on shows such as two performances on Late Show with David Letterman, Blockbuster Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. The Woman in Me won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album as well as the Academy of Country Music award for Album of the Year; the latter group also awarded Twain as Best New Female Vocalist.
1997–2001: Come On Over and international pop breakthrough
In 1997, Twain released her follow-up album, Come On Over. This was the album that would establish her as a successful crossover singer. Slowly, following the release of lead singles “Love Gets Me Every Time” and “Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)“, which allowed Twain to make more appearances in the Billboard Hot 100, the album started racking up sales. It never hit the top spot, but with the multi-chart hit single “You’re Still the One“, sales skyrocketed. Other songs like “When“, “Honey, I’m Home“, “You’ve Got a Way“, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!“, “That Don’t Impress Me Much“, and “From This Moment On” joined the 12 songs that eventually saw release as singles. “From This Moment On” is a duet with singer Bryan White and there was a re-recorded solo pop version as well.
The album stayed on the charts for the next two years, going on to sell 40 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling album of all time by a female musician. She continued to break international boundaries for country music and female crossover artists. It is also the eighth biggest-selling album by any type of artist in the US and the top selling country album in history. Songs from the album won four Grammy Awards during this time, including Best Country Song and Best Female Country Performance (for “You’re Still the One” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”) for Twain. Lange won Grammys for “You’re Still the One” and “Come on Over“.
Despite the album’s record sales it wasn’t able to top the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 2. In 1998, following the pop release of “You’re Still the One”, the Come on Over album was released in a remixed format for the European market as a pop album with less country instrumentation and actually gave her the big breakthrough in Europe she and her producer husband (Robert John “Mutt” Lange) were looking for. Come on Over went to number 1 on the UK album charts for 11 weeks. It became the biggest selling album of the year in Great Britain and a bestseller in other big European markets as well, selling more than one million copies in Germany and nearly 4 million in the UK alone. Although “You’re Still The One” and the pop version of “From This Moment On” cracked the Top 10 of the UK charts and “When” had minor success in the Top 20, the songs that had finally drawn European attention to the album were the pop remixed singles “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, a No.3 in the UK and Top 10 hit in Germany in the summer of 1999, and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” which peaked at No.3 in both the UK and France in autumn of that year. Additionally, “You’ve Got a Way” was remixed specifically for inclusion on the Notting Hill soundtrack. Subsequently, a reissue of the international version of the album was released worldwide, including the US and Europe, containing three of these new remixes. Additionally, the album set the record for the longest ever stay in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200, remaining in the Top 20 for 99 weeks.
In 1998, Twain launched her first major concert tour, aided by her manager Jon Landau, a veteran of many large-scale tours with Bruce Springsteen. The Come on Over Tour shows was a success and won the “Country Tour of the Year” in 1998 and 1999 by Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.
In 2000, Twain was initially scheduled to release a Christmas album, but plans to release one were cancelled later in the year.
Following the success of Come On Over, independent label Limelight Records released The Complete Limelight Sessions in October 2001. The album includes 16 tracks recorded in the late 1980s before Twain signed her record deal with Mercury.
After a change in management – QPrime replaced Landau — and a two-year break, along with the birth of their son, Eja (pronounced “Asia”) D’Angelo, who was born on August 12, 2001, Twain and Lange returned to the studio. Up! was released on November 19, 2002. About a year later, Twain kicked off the Up! Tour in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on September 25, 2003. Up! was released with three different discs – country/acoustic (green CD), pop/rock (red CD), and world/dance (blue CD). Up! was given four out of five stars by Rolling Stone magazine, and debuted at No.1 on the Billboard albums chart, selling 874,000 in the first week alone. It remained at the top of the charts for five weeks. Twain’s crossover appeal in country, pop, and dance music, led the album Up! to sell over 11 million copies by 2004. Up! reached No.1 in Germany, No.2 in Australia and the Top Five in the UK and France. In Germany, Up! was certified 4x platinum and stayed in the Top 100 for one and a half years. The international music disc was remixed with Indian-style orchestral and percussion parts recorded in Mumbai, India. The new versions were produced by Simon and Diamond Duggal, brothers from Birmingham, England. They were originally invited to contribute parts to the pop version of “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” which retained the Indian influence.
Twain’s popularity in UK was reflected by numerous appearances on the long-running music show Top of the Pops, performing singles from Come on Over from 1999. In 2002 an entire special show was dedicated to her on sister show TOTP2, in which Twain herself introduced some past performances of her greatest hits and new singles from Up!
The first single from the album, “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” became a top 10 country hit in the US, after debuting at No. 24 after only five days of airplay; but only made the Top 40 on the pop charts. It was a much bigger hit on the other side of the Atlantic, released in a pop version, the single hit No. 4 in the UK. In Australia, Germany and France the song reached the Top 15 in each case. The follow-up single, “Up!“, reached the Top 15 in the US country charts but failed to reach the pop Top 40. The second European single became the mid-tempo song “Ka-Ching!” (which was never released as a single in North America) with lyrics where Twain was criticizing unchecked consumerism. The song eventually became another smash hit in the important European markets, reaching No.1 in Germany and Austria and other European countries, the UK Top 10 and the Top 15 in France. The third single from the album would be the most successful in the US. The romantic ballad “Forever and for Always” was released as a single in April 2003 and peaked at No.4 on the country chart and No.1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and made as well the Billboard Top 20. Again success was even bigger on the other side of the Atlantic with “Forever and For Always” again reaching the Top 10 in both, the UK and Germany. Further singles were “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face“, which was a country Top 10 hit, while the last US single, “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing“, made the Top 20 on both Country and AC. Due to the enormous European success of Up! and its first three singles, two more singles were released in the second half of 2003 with up-tempo “Thank You Baby” (#11 in the UK, Top 20 in Germany) and just before Christmas the romantic, acoustic ballad “When You Kiss Me”, at least a minor hit in both territories. The title track “Up!” also saw a single release in a limited edition of European countries, such as Germany, in early 2004. In January 2008, Up! had sold 5.5 million copies in the U.S. and was certified by the RIAA as 11x platinum (the organization counts double albums as two units).
2004–10: Greatest Hits and delay of new album
In 2004, she released the Greatest Hits album, with three new tracks. As of 2012, it had sold over 4.15 million copies in the U.S. The first single, the multi-format duet “Party for Two“, made the country top ten with Billy Currington, while the pop version with Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath made top ten in the United Kingdom and Germany. The follow-up singles, “Don’t!” and “I Ain’t No Quitter” did not fare as well. The former made Top 20 on Adult Contemporary, while the latter did not gain enough airplay to crack the Country Top 40.
In June 2009, Twain released a letter to her fans explaining the delays in the release of her next album. In August 2009, at a conference in Timmins, Ontario, a spokesman for Twain’s label said a new record from the singer is still “nowhere in sight”.
2011–present: Return to music and new album plus new world tour
In May 2011, Twain confirmed in an interview that she will release her first new single in six years, “Today Is Your Day“, after the finale of Why Not? with Shania Twain. Twain previewed the song in the first episode of the series. Twain worked with music producers David Foster and Nathan Chapman on the new song. In the next few months, Twain plans to return to the studio to finish her fifth studio album. “Today Is Your Day” was officially released to iTunes and country radio on June 12, 2011.
On June 8, 2011, at a press conference at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Twain announced that she will headline Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for two years. Her show, titled Still the One, began on December 1, 2012 with shows expected to run in 2013 and 2014.
In July 2013, Twain announced on Facebook that she is working on her album over the summer during a break from Still the One. This will be her fifth studio album and first in 13 years.
In October 2013, Twain sat down with Robin Roberts from Good Morning America as a featured artist on the Countdown to the CMA Awards. In the interview, Twain said that a new album was coming, but she said that she was still in the process of finding the right producer.
Outside of her show at Caesars Palace, Twain performed two concerts at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, on July 9 and 10, 2014. In a series of interviews leading up to her Calgary Stampede shows, Twain said she hoped to tour in 2015 and that it would lead to the release of a new album. Alongside her Calgary Stampede shows, Shania also headlined a show on Labour Day weekend at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
On March 4, 2015, Twain announced on Good Morning America she will be going on tour for the first time in 11 years, and will begin June 5 in Seattle, Washington and will end on October 11 in Toronto, ON. Twain also announced this will be her last tour before her fifth studio album, which she intends to release while she is 50. In an interview on Global Television Network’s The Morning Show on March 6, Twain confirmed that she is not retiring from her music career after the tour. In an interview with Radio.com published on March 5, she stated that she has found several producers for her upcoming album, describing it as “soul music”.
On August 28, 2015, it was announced that even though her current Rock This Country Tour is her final time touring, she is possibly planning on returning Las Vegas with a new residency show for possibly late 2016 or 2017. The new show would end up featuring music from her long awaited new album as well as her hits.
Twain’s mainstream pop acceptance was further helped by her appearance in the 1998 first edition of the VH1 Divas concert where she sang alongside Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Carole King and Aretha Franklin, and also by VH1‘s 1999 heavily aired Behind the Music, which concentrated on the tragic aspects of her early life as well as her physical attractiveness and Nashville’s early resistance to her bare-midriff music videos. After Divas, Shania Twain wrote and/or sang background vocals with her then husband Robert John “Mutt” Lange the songs, “If Walls Could Talk” and “Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word)” for Celine Dion.
On November 12, 2008 Twain made her first television appearance since her split from ex-husband Robert “Mutt” Lange, where she appeared as a surprise presenter at the 42nd CMA Awards.
In April 2010, Twain announced plans for her own TV show, titled Why Not? with Shania Twain. The show debuted on May 8, 2011 on OWN. Twain returned to American Idol as a guest mentor for a week where the top 6 contestants showcased her songs. After the conclusion of the ninth season Twain was very close to becoming a judge but ultimately it was Jennifer Lopez who got the job.
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