One of the greatest voices to come out of the early 90s and 2000s, country star Shania Twain, is speaking out on why she almost hung up her microphone for good.
Starting in 1995, the now 51-year-old artist began receiving widespread acclaim and attention thanks to her pop-influenced take of the twangy genre with hits such as “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” and “Any Man of Mine” from her second studio album, The Woman In Me.
Her inevitable follow-up, 1997’s Come On Over, catapulted the already-successful Twain, born Eileen Regina Roberts, from the country charts to the world-at-large, with more smash hits and classics, including “You’re Still the One,” “From This Moment On,” and the feminist ode to living life without regrets, “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!,” which were all co-penned with songwriting partner and then-husband, producer Robert “Mutt” Lange.
The disc would go on to be certified 2x Diamond, or 20 million copies sold, by the RIAA (the Record Industry Association of America).
“It’s been so long,” Shania expressed of her whirlwind ride to worldwide fame to Rolling Stone recently. “It almost feels like another lifetime [ago].”
Ironically, that statement is not as hyperbolic as Twain makes it out to be. In 2008, just four years into a partial retirement from performing and six years after releasing Up!, her last studio album comprised of all-original material, Lange and Twain publicly announced that they would be ending their decade and a half-long marriage due to the former falling in love with Shania’s longtime friend, Marie-Anne Thiebaud.
Seemingly in retaliation but in actuality, anything but, Shania found comfort in the arms of the one person who fully understood just what she was going through with Mutt’s betrayal — Marie-Anne’s ex-husband, Frederic Thiebaud. The two would become engaged in 2010 and officially tied the knot on New Year’s Day in 2011.
Unsurprisingly, the tabloids had a field day with the scandal, but for Shania Twain, despite being able to find love again, it was draining on both an emotional and physical scale; so much so that it literally caused her to lose her voice by way of a condition known as dysphonia, a disorder that effects the vocal cords and makes it hard to speak or, in Shania’s case, sing.
“There was a lot of coming to terms with that,” she admitted, while also sharing that she’s gone through years of vocal therapy to “re-learn” her craft.
“It’s been one of the obstacles in my life I’ve just had to learn to live with,” Shania continued.
“I’m a different singer now.”
Music listeners will be able to hear that difference — finally! — once the talent unveils her long-delayed fifth studio album in May of this year. Currently untitled but seemingly full of promise, Rolling Stone was able to hear a few offerings from the disc as Ms. Twain dictated the inspirations behind some of the new tunes.
“Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl?”
- “[A ballad] about feeling unappreciated and knowing that you are secondary,” Shania explained. “Having to live with someone that has different priorities and accepting that you’re not the most important thing in a person’s life.”
“Swinging With My Eyes Closed”
- “The fighter in me wrote that song. I was thinking of a boxer taking a swing, or a baby first coming out with his eyes and fists closed. They can’t even see yet and they’re swinging with their eyes closed,” she stated.
“We Got Something They Don’t”
- “I was sick in a hotel room,” Shania recalled, “and there was [a] Major League Baseball going on just below the hotel in the dome. I was bummed out that I couldn’t go there and enjoy the game, so I wrote this song about the winning team and what I would feel like and I just got into the spirit of the game. It’s about feeling like a champion.”
“Most of them started off quite melancholy and a lot darker,” Shania further explained of the album’s overall theme.
“[For example], ‘Swinging With My Eyes Closed’ was totally dark at the beginning. It’s just [that] all of a sudden, the light went on and there was light as well as darkness. There’s a lot of songs that have that contrast on it that maybe are too subtle for the listener to even realize.”
Another thing they might not know, but wouldn’t be surprised to learn, is the complete absence of Lange from the production of the album. In fact, Twain found it absolutely necessary for the big-name producers working on the disc, such as Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga) and Ron Aniello, a constant companion of another music legend, Bruce Springsteen, to completely detach themselves from her past discography.
“I told anyone getting involved musically to forget about my other records,” Shania claimed, adding that she wanted to get as far away from her pop-imbued classics as possible. “I didn’t want it to be related to Mutt’s productions at all. I wanted a more organic approach.”
Expect to hear the first taste of the new Shania Twain in March, when she drops the first official single from the project.
[Featured Image by Ilya S. Savenok/Stringer/Getty Images]