Shania Twain exclusive, Part 2: Her game plan for Caesars Palace show

Las Vegas Weekly
By Robin Leach
June 14, 2011

Sunday, the first song Shania Twain has written solo in six years, “Today Is Your Day,” was released as her new single. She worked with fellow Canadian hit-maker David Foster on the record. Her new album is already in the works, but now she has other dates to add to her 16-month calendar, as Shania discussed in Part 1 of her exclusive interview with Vegas DeLuxe posted yesterday.

Our conversation with the country music superstar continues today:

Robin Leach: Shania, walk me through to December 2012 -- 16 months away. Where do you think the calendar is at this point in terms of creating the show and then rehearsals and then coming to Vegas? How do you envision the window of time?

Shania Twain: I’m going to spend the summer honing in on who’s going to produce it. We don’t even have a producer at this early stage. Now my imagination is really going to go wild, and I’m going to let myself dream a little bit, and what would be the most fun and the most fulfilling artistically for me, knowing that this is much less limited than any touring show. This is very liberating to know that. It’s kind of an open wallet compared to what you would do on a touring show where you have to consider a lot of things.

There are a lot of expenses that don’t exist when you’re stationary, so that becomes a very good exchange to go into the quality of the show. It’s more consistent and reliable. You can do things in a stationary setting that might break down if you were touring, that wouldn’t travel well, so that’s a lot more liberating, as well. And just the creative resources that are available in Vegas, the experience that they have and the group that is there, you couldn’t take that group on the road with you. So the summer is going to be spent dreaming about all of those possibilities.

I will be working on the new record, as well, so I will be dealing with who is going to produce the next record and who is going to produce the show. Then the fall and winter will be spent doing pre-production for a couple months, and then we’ll go into genuine production, and then I would like three months for rehearsals.

RL: Does that mean a lot of it you will do from home in the Bahamas and then you will come to Vegas for rehearsals, or will you do rehearsals somewhere else?

ST: I would like to do a lot of the rehearsals in the Bahamas -- certainly the initial preliminary stuff, musical arranging, a lot of the production on paper, mechanical meetings, all of that stuff. I’d rather just stay there as much as I can because I have my son Eja, who is 10. I really don’t want to be away from him. That was a big reason to go to Vegas, too, they’re so accommodating in that way. My son is at an age where I don’t really want him to be caught up in the whole touring thing right now.

He’s friends with Celine’s son. They’ve played together. That reminds me, I have to call her for some advice and input about living and working in Vegas, dealing with the humidity in the theater. Somebody should warn her now that I need a lot of insight and help.

RL: So, September next year you will be in Las Vegas to get it all fully ready for your Dec. 1 opening, which coincides with our annual National Finals Rodeo invasion. Have you ever been here before for NFR?

ST: That is a really good question. Somebody asked me a question about how it feels now to compare the world I’m going through now, this many years later, after the career peaked after the whirlwind journey. To be honest, I don’t remember half of it from back then. Part of what is so great about where I am now is that I am living through it so much more thoroughly and enjoying it. I missed a lot of that pleasure at the peak of everything. I have a great memory, but people will ask me if I’ve played a certain place, and I’m like, you know what, I probably have, but I can’t remember. It’s impossible to remember everything -- that’s just what happens. You just get jammed through so many concerts in so many places, you simply don’t even know where you are.

RL: Let’s detour for a moment and have a laugh! Just what is in the water in Canada that keeps on producing all of you stars?

ST: I know! We say that to each other all the time: It must be in the water. It is kind of strange when you think of it because we’re really not such a large population in comparison to America, but the ratio of talent that comes out of there is high. I don’t really know what the answer is -- maybe it’s because, as a kid growing up, as a Canadian artist, how impossible it seemed to make it across the border and how much harder we have to work to get there. Maybe there is a determination there to deal with how difficult it’s going to be. I think up in Canada, it’s simply we have to work harder to get there.

RL: Is it anything to do with the bad winter weather that make it difficult for you to get out, so you entertain yourselves at home as young kids, and it grows from there?

ST: That’s true. You have nothing better to do than work on your talent. I think there is a lot of homegrown talent in Canada, at least from what I’ve experienced myself. A lot of house parties, people live far apart, there is a lot of distance between towns and homes, you do entertain yourselves in your homes, people pull out the guitars, there is a real music culture there in a very family-oriented way where you just jam and hang out. Maybe more people have an opportunity to learn that they have a musical talent through that.

RL: Do you think you’ll be working with other Canadians -- David Foster, for example?

ST: I’ve worked with him on the new song that I wrote for the new Oprah network series. He was the first producer that I got behind the mic with again, and it was so scary for me, but he was there for me. I was backing out every second day leading up to it because I was so nervous about it. He is amazing, as everybody knows, but he’s also just an amazing person.

As confident as I was that he, of course, knew what he was doing and he wouldn’t abuse the situation or the song or anything like that, I was scared that I wouldn’t live up to his expectations. I had all these anxieties, but he was fantastic. He did magic to the song, and it was just a thrill all the way, so I don’t know whether we’ll work together in the future or not, but I hope so.

RL: So to describe you at this moment as happy would be an understatement?

ST: Happy would be at the center of it all. It would be surrounded by everything, life itself, the growth, the healing, all of the other things. There is so much going on right now. I guess happy is a very good way of summarizing it.

RL: We are delighted you are coming to Vegas. The whole town is so excited that you will be living among us, so we welcome you with lots of love and open arms. We pray that you have this full recovery with the voice, and when you get here finally, you’ll be singing the best you’ve ever sung in your life.

ST: It will be a triumph! I am really up for it, and that really means a lot to me. To find myself poised to play at The Colosseum is truly magical. It’s an iconic location with unmatched energy. I’m excited to bring my pop country spin to the city. People from all over the world travel to Las Vegas, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my music again with a global audience. This is a dream for any performing artist. What more could I ask for? It is an exceptional opportunity.

Caesars Palace and AEG

Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner and AEG chief John Meglen were with Shania in Nashville, and I also talked with them. Gary said: “For us, it’s a very different thing. It’s country music, and although Caesars was once home for Dolly Parton’s occasional shows, Shania becomes our first-ever resident country superstar. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her as The Colosseum’s first-ever country music resident headliner. It will be a triumphant return. It’s amazing that she will be able to fill 4,000 seats nightly.”

Her accomplishments are staggering: As the top-selling female country artist of all time, she has more than 75 million albums sold worldwide from just four studio albums, with multi-platinum sales in 32 countries and 18 Top 10 songs, eight of which hit No. 1. She is the only female artist to have three consecutive albums sell more than 10 million copies.

John added: “She is so wonderful. She is such a great woman, and we’re very blessed we got her! You have to remember Shania has had plaques and records in 32 countries around the world. There are not a lot of country stars who have crossed over to the pop world, and Shania is just as popular in pop as she is in country.

“Our format now at Caesars with Celine, Elton [John], Rod [Stewart] and Shania is the iconic star on a global basis. The four are global artists, and we’re trying to have a global icon representation in the building. Our mission was to make it home to the world’s greatest entertainers, and now with Shania, we have exceeded that goal. We’ll still keep spaces open for Mexican Independence Day -- Luis Miguel, Asian holidays. We have Jerry Seinfeld coming, so we’re pretty packed. We do have some openings, and when we do, we’ll bring in great acts, but now with these four resident headliners, we’re literally full.

“We were happy to wait the 17 months for Shania’s show. We’re artist-friendly. We want to make sure we do it when the artist is comfortable and it’s the right timing for them. This is what felt comfortable for her.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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