Exclusive print interview: Shania Twain says Calgary Stampede show
signals she's ready to tour again, release new album
By Mike Bell
July 8, 2014
Like Garth Brooks before her, it didn’t take a great deal of coaxing to get Shania Twain to leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
The country superstar will perform two anticipated and all-but sold-out Saddledome shows this Wednesday and Thursday, the first true concerts in a decade outside of her ongoing residency at Caesars Palace with the acclaimed Shania: Still the One.
“I was pretty open to it, I have to say,” says Twain, in an exclusive sit-down interview with the Calgary Herald on Monday afternoon. “I was excited about the idea of doing a concert environment show again — it’s been a long time.”
And no doubt the Stampede was excited to lure the Canadian-born Twain out of semi-retirement for this year’s event and for her first local appearance since June ’04. She is, after all, one of the most commercially successful artists of all-time, like 2012 headliner Brooks, a crossover star who helped bring country music to the masses in the ’90s and early ’00s. Since that time, she’s sold more than 85 million albums worldwide, garnered music-industry awards of all types, an induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame, Order of Canada and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
So, yeah, to get her to agree to leave the Strip, where she’s been a hot ticket since December of 2012, is something of a coup.
Then again it also indicates, from her perspective, a desire to once again get back on the road.
The 48-year-old Timmins, Ontario raised artist is finally feeling the need to go to the world with her chart-topping songs rather have them coming to her, noting that she and her people are “looking at some dates already, probably in the spring,” and might have something to announce when her commitment to Caesars runs out in July [actually it's December] and after she plays another one-off event in P.E.I. at the end of August.
“I think I’m going to do more,” she says. “I guess it’s just something I’m enjoying more now than I have in a long time. Vegas has been a really good transition for me to get back onstage again, and I guess I’m enjoying it.
“So why not do more?”
Of course, Twain’s touring hiatus has also coincided with her recording absence, with her last studio album being her fourth 2002’s Up!.
Both were also due, in part, to the singer being diagnosed with the vocal condition dysphonia, due to years of damaging her vocal cords, but with rehabilitation and treatment, her voice and, as a result, the lack of output, were assumed on the mend.
There have been a few songs here and there, as well as a Greatest Hits package, but an album that’s been rumoured to have been in the works for at least five years.
She admits a tour next year won’t necessarily coincide with a release, but doesn’t rule out fresh material before then or soon after.
“It’s my priority this year and I will be in the studio as soon as I can get in, get my ducks in a row — I’m working on it all the time right now,” she says.
“I’ve been writing for it for a long time now, I’ve got lots of things so it’s really about putting the puzzle together now.”
As to where she feels she’ll fit into the country music world these days — one dominated by bro country on the men’s side, and the Swiftian pop starlets on the ladies’ end — she says that’s not something she’s overly concerned with.
She admits to being a fan of many of the stars of today’s new movement, but says the songs she’s writing aren’t using them as an influence or with a thought of how to connect in the current climate.
“Back onstage has been very natural, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be,” she says. “I’m enjoying the singing and I think my voice has a lot of qualities it didn’t even have before which is interesting. And I look forward to putting that down on record.
“It just feels all very natural to be honest. I haven’t really considered whether I fit in or not. Right now, it’s just not a concern. I’m just doing my thing.”
Naturally, there are many who consider her thing — what she did when she was considered to be the reigning Queen of Country Pop — to be the direct cause of the present state of country music. It’s something she’s heard directly from some of those artists, saying they’re very “sweet” about citing her as an influence, but it’s not something she’s willing to take a great deal of pride in or credit for.
“No,” she says. “I mean, I’m flattered by that comment, people tell me that all the time and I really appreciate it and I really feel a sense of accomplishment somehow.”
She laughs. “Although I’m not really sure what I did. I was just doing my own thing.”
Now that she’s in Calgary, Twain’s path will be a little less of doing her own thing. Monday afternoon was set aside for a media conference where she announced the opening of a local chapter of her Shania Kids Can charity, which sets up shop in schools to help underprivileged children reach their potential. And Tuesday was scheduled mainly as a rehearsal day for the two ’Dome shows, with, should there be some time, maybe the chance to wander the Stampede — an event she’s never visited — and “squeeze in some sort of rodeo ... take in an event or two.”
As a PETA-approved artist — she was voted the sexiest vegetarian alive by the animal rights organization more in 2001 — she wasn’t too concerned at the message that might send.
“I don’t really know a lot technically about how they operate ... but any rodeo that I have seen, I’ve never felt, myself, uncomfortable.”
And as for Wednesday and Thursday night, when Twain finally gets down to business, she says the concerts will be much different than Still the One. Yes, it will feature all of her hits, but the energy will be “hyped-up” and it will offer a “whole different experience for me and for the audience for sure.”
“It’s going to be more of a rock show feel than in Vegas,” she says. “This is my first one out of Vegas so there’s going to be a lot of surprises there for me as well, and that’s all part of the fun of it.”
And, it being the first in a long, long time, are there any nerves?
“No,” Twain says simply. “I’m excited. I’ve sort of got that edge about me right now, you know, as far as doing something new again that I haven’t done in a long time. I’m not scared about it, I’m just anxious more than anything.”
"ET Canada" - Airdate: July 9, 2014