7 things you need to know about Shania Twain's 'Rock This Country Tour'
By John Serba
July 9, 2015
Shania Twain recently joined the ranks of superstars embarking on high-profile "final" tours.
Cue the cynics, who will undoubtedly express their disbelief and cite the likes of KISS, Cher and Ozzy Osbourne, who all sold mountains of concert tickets teasing their retirements, only to double back and un-retire later. (Or Motley Crue, who signed a "cessation of touring" legal agreement as a publicity stunt in 2014; their tour stretches deep into 2015.) But Twain, speaking to reporters during a May conference call, seemed earnest in her intention to call it quits.
"The performance side of (music) is a phase in my life," she said. "I've been doing it for so long. I'll be 50 this year, and I've been on stage since I was eight years old. I've done my fair share."
The "Rock This Country Tour" launched June 5, and consists of 48 concerts, including stops at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena July 11, and The Palace of Auburn Hills July 25. During the conference call, she promised big-yet-intimate live performances on the run, as well as a commitment to a refurbished career as a songwriter. Here are seven things you need to know about Shania's career, tour and life in 2015:
1. It's her last tour, but not the end of her career in music. "I'll be doing music until the day I die. I love music too much," she said. "It's time to do different things – I want to write more. I miss making records. I haven't made enough records in my career. ... I want to write songs for other artists that are coming up, and sit back and enjoy them, be part of their success. I''s a whole other exciting phase for me. I see it as an evolution in my career, really."
2. Her time away from the stage wasn't entirely her choice. She experienced a highly publicized health scare via dysphonia, an affliction of the voice box that not only threatened her singing, but her speaking voice as well. It can be a psychological affliction, and a few years ago, she cited the stress of her high-profile split with then-husband, music producer Mutt Lange, as a factor. (He reportedly had an affair with her close friend Marie-Anne Thiébaud; in 2011, Twain would re-marry, to Marie-Anne's ex-husband, Nestlé executive Frédéric Thiébaud.)
"I wasn't sure I was ever going to sing again," she said. "Initially, (I took the sabbatical in 2004) more so just for the break and to be a mom. The first few years after the tour were deliberately to concentrate on my son and my home. The shorter sabbatical became a long one, and the problem with my voice compounded.
"It was very, very scary. It went way beyond not being able to perform, beyond concerns for my career as a singer. It was a part of me I was losing, like losing a hand. I really thought that I had lost the voice that I knew. It was something I was having a terrible time coming to terms with. Before I gave up completely, I found the courage to tackle it and take it on. For a period I believed I would never sing again, and it was incredibly depressing. "
3. High-tech, but also small. In March, Twain announced her current string of dates, her first full-blown tour in 11 years. It follows a two-year, 105-show residency in Las Vegas, dubbed "Shania: Still the One." The venue she played, The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace, holds 4,300, and the singer says she wants to bring the small-room vibe to the arenas and sheds she's playing this summer, while still offering audiences a dynamic, modern, flashy stage show.
"What I've missed the most is the connection with the fans," she said. "The audiences (in Vegas) were very close to the stage, one of the luxuries I enjoyed. It was really cool to touch the people, mingle with them, and enjoy that theater environment. I thought, 'I have to do more of this. I want to do more of this.' ... It won't be as easy to do because of the scale of the rooms, but we're going to do it. It's part of the plan, and built into the production."
4. Expect a new album, maybe even this year. "On my days off, I'll be recording vocals or working on songwriting," she said. "I'm not going to get out much, working between the stage and the new album."
5. But don't anticipate any new songs in the current set. Not yet, at least. "There won't be any new music on the set list, at least at this point," she said. "Maybe by the end of the tour. I don't want to bore people with songs they don't know, either. When I go to a concert, I want to hear the songs that I know and have memories with. If it's close enough to when I'm going to release something, it would be fair to do one or two songs off the new album. If the album progresses quickly enough, I might put one or two new songs in, close to the end of the tour."
6. In other words, expect all the hits. "The music is bringing us back together," she said of her relationship with the audience. "It's a chance to reminisce and celebrate, and play all the hits that they know. A lot of the kids that were listening years ago are adults now, so it's exciting for me to be reunited with them."
7. Twain is taking a more personal approach with her songwriting efforts. She said she never stopped writing during her time off. "It's a creative outlet that I'd do wehter I was touring or recording or not," she said. "The spirit of the songs is very relatable, more communicative. They're not obscure or anything like that. I'm writing it all myself, with no other writer or producer directing it. So it's naturally going to give a different spirit to the music.
"It's very personalized songwriting, a very therapeutic process for me. I'm pouring my heart out in the music, literally in the lyrics, or in the melodies and chord progressions. It's been a great experience and I want to do more of it. I don't want to stop, just want to keep going. I could just do that – write music – and be very satisfied. I'm learning that about myself. I'm feeling less extroverted about my music, and more content just creating it."