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Name: Shania Twain
• Pronounced: shu-NYE-uh
Birthdate: August 28, 1965
Birthplace: Windsor, Ontario Canada
Home-town: Timmins, Ontario Canada
Birth Name: Eilleen Regina Edwards
• She adopted the name Shania in 1990.
• "Shania" means "I'm on my way" in Ojibway.
Parents: Clarence and Sharon Edwards
• Shania's biological father left her when she was two.
• Jerry Twain met and married the single Sharon later on in life, thus the Twain name.
• Jerry Twain adopted Shania when she was four.
• Shania's parents sadly died in a car crash in 1987, Shania was only 21.
Siblings: Jill, Carrie-Ann, Mark, Darryl.
• Shania is the second oldest.
• Shania is Irish and French-Canadian and was raised with the Ojibwa Indian Culture.
MORE ABOUT SHANIA:
Shania (shu-Nye-uh), an Ojibway name meaning "I'm on my way" -- an appropriately beautiful moniker for an extraordinary talent who is definitely on her way. In fact Shania has been on a musical path practically since she could walk. Born in Windsor and raised in the great northland of Timmins, Ontario (about 500 miles north of Toronto), where both her stepfather (an Ojibway Indian) and mother were raised, her's was not the typical upbringing one would expect from living in a rural environment. The second oldest of five children, the talented little girl's life was not filled with Barbie dolls and fingerpaints.
It was a proud but often impoverished existence. Though there may have been a struggle to keep enough food on the table, there was always an abundance of music and love in the Twain household. Shania truly had a special gift and affinity for music, and responded vocally to whatever she heard on the radio, tape player or jukebox. When she was just three, Shania was already such a "natural" that her mother would sit Shania on the counter of a local diner to sing along to the jukebox and entertain the patrons. From a very tender age, Shania was using her voice as an instrument, playing with new melodies and harmonizing. And in a few short years, despite the economic hardships of her childhood, she became a paid professional singer at age eight, and by the time she turned ten, was already writing her own original songs.
"I pretty much missed my childhood" she says. "I've always been focused. My career has always been very consuming. It probably consumes me less now than it did as a child. I liked to escape my personal life through my music. Music was all I ever did. I spent a lot of time in solitude with just my guitar, writing and singing away for hours. I would play 'til my fingers were bruised, and I loved it! But I never enjoyed the pressure of being a performer. My parents forced me to perform, which in the long run was the best thing because I was naturally quite a recluse. If not for my parents I'd still be singing in my bedroom and be quite content, mind you."
Although being "forced" is rather a harsh description, nonetheless her folks were let's say, "enthusiastic" about their daughter's obvious gifts.
"I used to be dragged out of bed at 1:00 in the morning and they'd bring me to the local club to play with the band. You see, they couldn't allow me in a liquor premise before 1:00 a.m. when they stopped serving. I'd get up and sing a few songs with the band and before I knew it, I was actually doing clubs professionally. From the age of eight I was doing weekends, the odd gig here and there. I did everything my parents could get me on. Every TV station, every community centre, every senior centre" she laughs. "They had me do everything!"
One would wonder why her parents, as Shania puts it, "were so obsessed" with creating a musical career for their child.
"My mother lived for my career. We were extremely poor when I was a kid, and my mother was often depressed with five children and no food to feed them. She knew I was talented and she lived with the hope that my abilities were my chance to do something special."
Along with pursuing music, to help her family, Shania spent many a summer working with her dad as a foreman for a 13-man reforestation crew in the middle of the Canadian bush. This petite woman can wield an axe and handle a chainsaw as well as any man twice her size.
Her delicate appearance also belies a tough little survivor. That inner strength was put to the ultimate test at the tender age of 21 when both of her parents were killed in an automobile crash. This tragic incident propelled the young artist even further into her musical career. Now, however, it was not an escape from, but as a headlong plunge right smack-dab into reality.
My personal life changed drastically. When my parents died, my brothers and younger sister were still living at home. My brothers were only 13 and 14 years old and I became sister/mom. I had responsibilities, so I couldn't just go around getting gigs here and there, or writing only when I felt like it. I took a job singing at a resort, I bought a house, a family truck and settled down - I thought forever."
The position at Ontario's Deerhurst resort ended up to be the most educational period, as a performer, in her career. She did everything from musical comedy theatre to Andrew Lloyed Webber to Gershwin. About three years later, one by one, her siblings got on their feet and went their own ways.
"When they left, I felt like a 45 year - old woman whose kids had gone away to college. I was like 'WOW!' I have my whole life to live now. I had all this time on my hands. I didn't have to cook and clean for anybody. Didn't have to pay any bills but mine," she explains, her voice picking up speed. Didn't have to go to school meetings. Didn't have to pick them up after work and take them to teen dances. Drive 'em here. Drive 'em there. It was like 'I'm FREE!' I said 'now what am I gonna do with MY new life?' I decided I wanted to go for it!"
When it was time to really "go for it", Shania was packin' the goods.
It was 1990, and she was on her own. Shedding her real name, Eilleen, she adopted the Ojibway name of Shania, meaning “On my way”.
"I put together a demo of original music and didn't even go to Nashville right away" Her manager at the time (family friend Mary Bailey) arranged for Richard Frank, a Nashville lawyer, to come to a showcase in Canada. "He got the ball rolling, setting up a meeting with producer Norro Wilson. He introduced me to Buddy Cannon, who was A&R at Mercury Nashville at the time, and he handed my tape over to the head of the label. That was it!"
But with the extensive experience Shania had recently recieved in musical theatre and a talent so versatile that she could handle just about any style of music, why did this Canadian native gravitate towards Nashville and country music?
"My parents were obsessed with country music," she explains. "I grew up listening to Waylon, Willie, Dolly, Tammy, all of them, but I also listened to the Mama and the Papas, the Carpenters, the Supremes, the Jacksons, and such. But, as a child performer it was always country, so that's how I developed."
The tape and meetings resulted in a record deal and Shania's self-titled debut album Shania Twain (released April 20, 1993). Not only did the CD prick up ears in the States, it also enjoyed a great deal of success overseas, earning Shania CMT Europe's "Rising Star Video Of The Year" award. Although Shania was signed as a singer-songwriter on the basis of her original material, the debut Shania Twain featured only one of her original songs, the fiesty "God Ain't Gonna Get You For That".The album sold a modest 1 million copies in the U.S.. It took a phone call from a distant admirer, rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (AC/DC, Cars, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Bryan Adams and many others) for Shania to find a true believer, both in her voice and her original songs.
This brings us to her now historic second album The Woman In Me (released February 7, 1995). Shania had actually written and developed most of her songs that ended up on her second CD (10 of 12 tracks) before actually recording her first CD... but inexplicably certain "powers that be" refused to let her record them at the time. But truly unique artists always find a way, thus the destiny of The Woman In Me... created through the meshing of her personal life and musical career. Through her art Shania met the love of her life.
While producing another album in London, renowned record producer "Mutt" Lange heard Shania's debut 1993 single "What Made You Say That" via her video, and was immediately fascinated by her beautiful voice and natural talent. He contacted a friend in the U.S. and asked him to send Shania's debut CD, and soon "Mutt" was working out each morning to Shania's vocals.
Shania describes how their relationship developed...
"Mutt's a huge country music fan," she says, smiling, "I may be the princess in his life, but Tammy Wynette is the Queen! The steek guitar is his favorite instrument. He was a fan of mine through my first album and wanted to meet me."
"We first talked on the phone... (months) before we met in person. He got a hold of me through my (then) mmanager. I had no idea he was a world famous record producer. I didn't read the back of pop and rock albums, which was good because I wasn't intimidated by him. Otherwise, I don't think I would have been able to express myself creatively without any inhibitions. It worked out really well. We became good friends over the phone... writing songs and exchanging ideas. Creatively we were very in sync with each other. The first time I actually talked to him face to face was in Nashville during Mercury's Fan Fair show in '93, and we haven't wanted to be apart from that moment on."
Six months after they met, Shania and "Mutt" got married in Huntsville, Ontario on December 28, 1993. By ths time, they'd written half an album's worth of tunes together. As the following year unfolded, The Woman In Me turned into an international project. Shania and "Mutt" traveled (and wrote) their way across the U.S., Canada, England, Spain, Italy and the Caribbean. They began to lay down basic tracks for the new album in Nashville, later recording overdubs and mixing at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec.
"We ended up writing half the album, mind you, before we even became romantically involved. Creatively, romantically, it's a wonderful, wonderful marriage. My husband Mutt is the producer of my dreams and the love of my life. They are two seperate entities, but at the same time what more could any girl ask for?" To date, The Woman In Me has sold 12 million copies in the U.S..
Shania's third album, Come On Over, was released November 4, 1997. It contains 16 tracks written by Shania and her husband and producer, Robert John "Mutt" Lange. This was Shania's first new release since her historic Grammy/multi-award winning The Woman In Me in 1995. And Come On Over is even "more" Shania, even more amazing if that is even possible. It reflects her artistic growth and represents an even more "personal" record, and her ability to do the "deep" work a great artist must do to truly connect with her audience. Her stylistic versatility, vocal and emotional range are just breathtaking on this new album. Come On Over has been certified for U.S. sales of 20 million, making it the best-selling female album of all time, and the best-selling country album of all time. In 1999, her year was culminated when Shania was named the prestigious Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year.
Every track is crucial to the album as a whole. "There was so much that I wanted to achieve," Shania insists, "I couldn't have done it in any less than 16 songs -- everyone of them makes this album feel complete to me. Maybe it's because of the time I was given, I just felt like I couldn't leave any one of them out." Shania's Come On Over was the best-selling country album of the year with sales of 9 million copies in 1999 alone!
After Shania's incredible '98-'99 world tour, she took some much deserved time off and relaxed at her Switzerland home. During this time off, Shania and Mutt began working on her fourth album and also became parents! On August 12, 2001, Shania gave birth to her first child - a baby boy she named Eja D'Angelo Lange. On November 6, 2002, after a three-year hiatus, Shania returned to the national spotlight at the 36th annual CMA Awards in grand fashion. Shania was back and ready to pick up where she left off!
Shania's fourth album, UP!, was released on November 19, 2002. The album contains 19 tracks each re-recorded to appeal to country, pop, and international audiences. Buyers in North America get the "green" country disc and the "red" pop disc while international audience receive red and a "blue" disc Shania has described as "more rhythmical with an Eastern influence". UP! has everything from dance numbers to ballads, and it's vintage Shania: If you liked Come On Over, you'll probably like UP!, which continues her signature big sound with its disco beat and perky grrrl-power lyrics ("She's Not Just a Pretty Face"; "Juanita": "Nah"; "Waiter! Bring Me Water"; "In My Car, I'll Be the Driver"; et. al.). "Ka-Ching!" stands out as different against the others with its Pink Floyd "Money" opening and lyrics criticizing greed. Will UP! be as successful as Come On Over? Only time will tell, but the album sky-rocketed to the top of the charts in its first week selling 874,000 copies. The album delighted fans, who snapped up nearly three million copies in less than a month. The first single, "I'm Gonna Getcha Good," showed that motherhood and time away had not drastically altered Twain's approach to her music. "There is a typical Shania attitude in the lyric, a definite female confidence," Twain said of the song. "In my experience it's more typical to run into guys with such confidence. I thought it would be fun to write with that same confidence, but from a woman's point of view. I wanted the first single to reflect that playful attitude because I wanted people to relate to the Shania they already knew, at the same time, hearing a fresh new sound." Time magazine called UP!, "Easily the best pop album of the year...with the kind of energy that reminds you how much fun the genre can be." Once again, the proof of Shania's power as songwriter and performer was seen in the sales chart. UP!, certified at 11 million U.S. sales, made Twain the only artist in history to have three consecutive 10x Platinum RIAA-certified albums [the other two being The Woman In Me (12x platinum) and Come On Over (20x platinum)]. Her UP! tour which ranked among the top five highest-grossing tours (Sep. 2003 - July 2004) and was the top-grossing country tour of 2004, often caused jaded music critics to talk in Shania-like exclamation points.
Behind all those statistics are millions of individuals who hear their own stories and feelings in her lyrics. Whether her songs are bursting with attitude or declaring her love in sweet and simple terms, they resonate with listeners. Now she's brought together all of the singles that fans have come to love on one record. Shania Twain's Greatest Hits, released November 9, 2004, boasts 17 favorites, plus three new songs. One of the new songs, and the first single from the album, "Party for Two," is a flirty, fun duet with country artist Billy Currington that is receiving immediate kudos from critics bowing to its unabashed catchiness. There is also a second version of "Party for Two" with Sugar Ray front man Mark McGrath. Entertainment Weekly deemed Shania Twain's Greatest Hits one of the most anticipated albums of the fall, noting, "Let the hoi polloi lust after her hits. To the bubblegum aficionados among us, Twain and husband/producer Mutt Lange are the Queen and King of Pop. That’s why we're craving the new confections, which include the ballad "Don't" and "I Ain't No Quitter," a country foot-stomper harking back to her twangier days." With three powerhouse albums to draw from, Shania Twain's Greatest Hits is the ultimate exclamation point to her career so far. "I wanted to put together all of my favorite songs from over the years for a fun, high energy album," Shania says. "This record is exactly that, as well as a dedication to all of the passionate fans who have enjoyed and supported me throughout the years." To date, the album has sold 3 million copies in the U.S..
On May 15, 2008, a spokesperson for Mercury Nashville announced that Twain and her husband Robert "Mutt" Lange were divorcing. Following her divorce, the country superstar confirmed that she was dating Swiss businessman Frederic Thibaud in August 2009. Lange allegedly had an affair with Shania's good friend and Frederic's wife, Marie-Anne Thiebaud. Both Lange and Marie-Ann denied that their own relationship was the reason the two couples split. Shania and Frederic got married in Rincon, Peurto Rico on January 1, 2011. It is the second marriage for both.
In April 2010, Shania joined forces with Oprah Winfrey's new television network, OWN, to star in a six-episode docu-series titled "Why Not? With Shania Twain." The show premiered in the U.S. and Canada in May 2011 with record ratings. Twain also released her first memoir, "From This Moment On," on May 3, 2011 published by Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. The book quickly became a New York Times best-seller.
On June 8, 2011, Shania confirmed her widely-speculated return to the stage and vocal spotlight with a two-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The music icon will bring all of her biggest hits in her new show SHANIA: STILL THE ONE exclusively to The Colosseum beginning December 1, 2012.
More than 48 million albums sold in the U.S. and 75 million worldwide; the world’s best-selling female country artist of all time; multi-platinum album sales in 32 countries including Canada, Australia, the UK, Indonesia, Holland and Norway; the sixth-biggest selling album of all time and sixteen top ten songs, half of which reached #1. Shania Twain is no longer 'on her way'. She is a worldwide phenomenon.
Incredible talent, original, beautiful, committed and inspiring. A truly unique artist and woman with the courage and understanding to be herself, through her music and life, that's Shania Twain.
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