Shania Twain began her successful career as a performer at the early age ten. Later, the Canadian singer would become one of the most popular and famous entertainers of all time, re-writing music history. To this day, the 56-year-old is going strong.
However, Twain’s life has not always been easy. She had a troubled childhood, and the beloved singer had to stop performing for almost an entire decade!
In a new documentary, Shania herself revealed what happened. Here’s all you need to know about the singing sensation …
Shania Twain was born Eileen Regina Edwards on August 28, 1965, in Windsor, Canada.
When she was very young, her parents divorced, but a few years later, Shania’s mother, Sharon, remarried a man named Jerry. He was a member of the Ojibwa tribe and adopted Shania and her two siblings. She was from that day known as Eileen Twain.
However, Shania’s childhood was reportedly far from a happy one. Her father regularly beat her, and her mother and the family never had money.
Shania Twain – childhood & family tragedy
Music and writing became a place of escape for her. Despite her stepfather treating Shania and the rest of her family poorly, she never once asked authorities for help.
“I did feel sorry for myself a lot as a kid. It was either go to Children’s Aid and get saved now or … I weighed it up and thought: ‘If I go to Children’s Aid, we’ll all get separated,’ and I just couldn’t bear that, so we all stayed together for better or for worse,” Shaina told The Guardian.
“I wanted to escape. [From] Everything. Violent home. Tensions. Nothing to eat. When you’re hungry you can’t do anything about it but distract yourself from the hunger. And it really works. It’s therapeutic. A lot of kids play with dolls and I played with words and sounds.”
At the age of three, Shania Twain was singing; by eight, she was playing the guitar. By age ten, the little girl had started writing songs. Mom Sharon was very impressed with Shania’s talent, and so she decided to put everything in one basket and made sacrifices to help her daughter get lessons.
Before long, Shania was performing at several area clubs and community events. Giggs helped her mother to pay the bills, and by the time she graduated from school in 1983, Shania already had a clear plan for the future: she would head to Nashville to try her luck as a country artist.
After some years of great success, Shania was ready to become a star. However, on November 1, 1987, when she was aged 22, Shania’s mother and stepfather passed away in a tragic car accident.
Changed her name
“I can guarantee you that they would be jumping for joy,” Twain said of her parents and what they’d think of her success. “I am writing and recording my own music. This is a luxury for a singer-songwriter, to be able to record their own music. It’s a true luxury.”
Twain was, of course, heartbroken, and decided to put her music career on hold. Instead, she moved back home to take care of her four siblings. At the time, the aspiring artist didn’t entirely take the time to process the passing of her mother and stepfather.
It wasn’t until decades later that she began to think about it.
“I started peeling back the layers of pain I was in and all the other griefs and disappointments and challenges came to the surface. And I thought: ‘I’ve been through worse and it’s time to put it all into perspective,’” Shania Twain explained.
“When my parents died, I experienced a much deeper grief than even the betrayal. I was just out of myself. When you add shock to grief, it does crazy things to your mind. And that really helped me through – this was not nearly as bad as my parents dying. I survived that and I don’t want to give this so much credit.”
For over half a decade, Shania had to put her dreams of a career in the music business on hold. Then, in 1993, she got the opportunity of a lifetime as she signed her first record label with Polygram Records. At the same time, she decided to change her name to “Shania,” an Ojibwa word for “on my way.”
The same year, Shania Twain released her self-titled debut album. Even though it didn’t become a big success, it brought the attention of one significant person.
Shania Twain – marriage, children
Record producer Robert “Mutt” Lange was impressed and wanted to work with her on her next album.
Lange – who had worked with bands such as AC/DC and Def Leppard – co-wrote most of the songs to her second album, including The Woman in Me, released in 1995, the single Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, which reached No. 11 on the country charts, and the follow-up single Any Man of Mine, which landed the the No. 1 spot.
Twain was nominated for four Grammys for her second album, which sold more than 12 million copies.
Two years later, in 1997, Twain reached new heights. Her third album, Come On Over, included songs such as the super hit That Don’t Impress Me Much and You’re Still the One, and the Canadian singer reached worldwide fame.
Interestingly, the collaboration with Robert “Mutt” Lange wasn’t purely professional. The first time Twain met him, she knew that it was love at first sight. They fell in love, married in 1993, and welcomed son Eja Lange in 2001.
“When I met Mutt for the first time, I knew that I loved this person,” Twain told ABC. “I felt like I had already loved him.”
However, by the time the singer went on tour in 2004, she felt that the spark had gone. Twain suspected that her close friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud, and Lang were having an affair – which they publicly denied – and in 2009, she filed for divorce.
Although Shania was in a tough place in her private life, her career was still going amazingly well. Sadly, though, that would all soon change.
Shania Twain’s reveals decade-long struggle – disease, dysphonia
In the documentary Shania Twain: Not Just A Girl, she explained how one day, in 2003, she was bitten by a tick. Unfortunately, it happened to be infected with Lyme’s Disease, which it passed on to Twain. The symptoms, she described, were “quite scary.”
“I was on stage feeling dizzy, I was losing my balance, I was afraid I was going to fall off the stage,” Twain said.
The singer explained that she had millisecond blackouts about twice a minute. Even when she recovered from those issues, she wondered if she would ever be able to sing again.
“It just went into this strange flanging, lack of control of the airflow. I didn’t understand it. I thought I’d lost my voice forever, I thought I’d never ever sing again,” Shania explained.
Twain developed dysphonia, a physical and physiological ailment that doesn’t allow her to sing properly and causes involuntary spasms in the muscles of the voice box. It made it impossible for her to sing with the same power range as before.
“The muscles literally constrict the voice box and prevent air from flowing properly,” Shania Twain said.
“You don’t get any volume, which is not very good for a singer. It’s got nothing to do with the vocal chords, the voice is perfectly fine. I would say the envelope around the vocal chords is restricting, and not allowing the vocal chords to do their job.”
“I learned that if I could get my vice into a certain place, with a lot of effort, it would sustain for at least long enough to do a great vocal,” Twain added.
Second marriage & re-start of career
For years, doctors didn’t know what was causing it. Finally, after around seven years, they realized that it was directly caused by Lyme disease.
Twain underwent several throat surgeries to try and correct the damage it had done to her voice. She had trouble talking normally – and the experience caused her to avoid daily interactions like speaking on the phone.
“It was very depressing, and I was really sad about it, but I still had my writing, and my writing is my first love, really, over everything. I was only going to be a writer and not the performer,” the singer said.
After many years, Shania finally got her voice back. At least to the point where she felt comfortable enough to start singing again. Moreover, she also found love after she began dating Frédéric Thiébaud – the ex-husband of her former friend Marie-Anne Thiébaud. In 2010 the couple got engaged, and married on New Year’s Day the following year in Rincon, Puerto Rico.
Their love came to be through mutual heartbreak. But the truth is, sometimes true love can be found in the most unexpected places.
“I didn’t want to love again-it was the last thing on my mind,” Twain told People in 2011. “It’s just amazing how life works.”
In 2012 – one year after being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame – Twain started her two-year residency at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shania Twain – net worth
The show was called Shania: Still the One, and it became a huge success. According to The Guardian, the lucrative deal earned her around $43 million over the course of two years. Today, Shania is said to have a net worth of approximately $400 million.
In 2017, Shania Tain released her fifth studio album Now and embarked on an extensive tour the following year. Since then, the 56-year-old has had her second Las Vegas residency at Zappos Theater and has been voted the 13th greatest music video female solo artist of all time.
Despite her many setbacks – with a troubled childhood, her parent’s tragic passing during her early career in Nashville, and later problems with Lyme disease – Shania has proven herself to be a true professional. She has never given up on her big dream of becoming a star, and no one can argue that she didn’t reach that goal.
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