Shania Twain to continue to 'Rock the Country'

Lincoln Journal Star
By L. Kent Wolgamott
September 17, 2015

If you go

What: Shania Twain with Gavin DeGraw

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr.

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24

Tickets: $136, $86, $66, $45 plus applicable fees; available at the arena ticket office, Ticketmaster outlets, and by phone at 800-745-3000

Shania Twain has changed her mind.

In May, just before she began her summer tour, the '90s country star said when she finished the “Rock the Country” tour in October, she was done performing.

“This is certainly not my retirement from music,” Twain said in a telephone news conference then. “I will be doing music, I’m sure, until the day I die. I love music too much. The performance side of it, I feel is a phase in my life. I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m 50 this year. I’ve been on stage since I was 8 years old, and I’ve really put in my fair share of performance. I’m feeling that the time is just right now to do other things musically.

“I want to write more. I want to make lots more records. I miss making records, and I haven’t made enough records in my life and my career… I also want to write songs for other artists that are coming up, and I want to sit back and enjoy them having their moment on the stage and being proud that I’m being proud of their success….That’s a whole exciting phase for me that I look forward to. I just see it as an evolution in my career really.”

Last month, however, Twain told the Las Vegas Sun that the response to the tour that began in early June has been so good that she will extend it.

“The tour is tiring, but I’m loving it,” Twain said to the Sun. “It’s becoming far more meaningful than I thought it would be. So many young people are turning out. We are getting an interesting cross-section of people in our audiences that makes it really great….It’s going so well that I’ve decided I’d like to extend it. I’m not ready to stop.”

Before she continues the tour, however, Twain said she was going to finish a new album that would be her first since 2002’s “Up.” Then she said she would like to take “Rock the Country” to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, then return to Las Vegas for another two-year residency like the one she recently wrapped up at Caesar’s Palace.

There won’t be any new material in Twain’s Pinnacle Bank Arena show Thursday. But she’s been singing new songs throughout the summer, as she’s cutting the new record while on the road, utilizing a mobile recording setup.

“There’s going to be a little bit of tug of war for my time in getting this music finished,” she said in the teleconference. “On my days off and time when I’m not on stage and traveling, I’ll be recording vocals or working on the songwriting and so on. I’m going to pretty much be working between the stage and the new album.”

That means that Twain’s show is a retrospective affair, a chance for fans to hear her sing songs like “Any Man of Mine,” “You’re Still the One” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”

“It’s the classic stuff that everybody knows. That’s what this tour is all about -- bringing the hits to everybody, bringing them to their hometowns,” she said. “For me, this tour is about reuniting with the fans, I haven’t done it in a long time. The reason for the tour is to say goodbye to the stage on a high, with my friends, with my fans.”

Those hits, which started in 1995 with her “The Woman in Me” album, were on the country charts. But Twain’s music blurred the then-sharper distinctions between country, rock and pop -- foreshadowing the crossover that typifies the sound of country’s hitmakers.

Any kind of genre division has never been in Twain’s mind.

“I never really felt it was necessary to box anything in,” she said. “It was a lot more fun to watch things evolve and cross boundaries. That’s what I ended up doing in my own career. I never saw myself as any one thing, and I never labeled my own self specifically or wrote music for any one genre. It was a pleasant surprise when my music ended up a cross-genre thing.”

Twain’s string of hits ended just over a decade ago, about the same time she left the road. Initially, she took a hiatus from touring to concentrate on being a mom, raising her son, who had just started school when her last tour ended.

The hiatus grew ever longer as Twain began to lose her voice, not just for singing.

“It was very, very scary,” she said. “It went way beyond not being able to perform. It certainly went beyond concerns for my career and not having a career as a singer. It was a part of me that I was losing, like losing a hand or something. I was going through a grieving process. I really thought I lost my voice, the voice that I knew, the voice I once had. It was very scary, and it was just something I was having a terrible time coming to terms with. Before I gave up on it completely, luckily, I found the courage to tackle it and take it on.”

Lesions were found on Twain’s vocal cords and she was diagnosed with dysphonia. Once treated, Twain was able to resume her singing career, opting first for the Vegas residency.

“During the last part of the two-year period in Vegas, I realized I’ve missed being out on the touring stage, missed going out to the public as opposed to them coming to me,” she said. “I enjoyed Vegas, but it was a motivation to one more time experience going out into the arena setting and being with people in their home towns.”

Twain said she’s taking one thing from her Vegas shows into arenas. In the smaller, controlled room she was able to get up close and personal with the audience.

“I have to make sure I’m able to get out there in the audience and touch people and look people in the eye and be among them,” she said. “There’s a plan for that. It’s something I’m going to take with me on the tour, even though it won’t be as easy to do.”

Twain promises the most dynamic show she’s ever done with top-flight production.

“I think it will be memorable. it’s going to rock,” she said back in May. “That’s for sure. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m in a good spirit for it. I really feel pumped to get out there and go to their towns and bring them this whole new show, this big sign-off, this big farewell.”

Except it may no longer be a farewell.