Shania Twain opens up about losing her husband in a wife swap
New York Post
By Barbara Hoffman
June 27, 2015
As Shania Twain embarks on her farewell tour, stopping at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, it’s hard not to think of her life as one long country song.
There’s the grinding poverty of her rural Canadian childhood; her loss, at 22, of both parents in a car crash; the illness that silenced her singing voice; and the betrayal that broke her heart — when her husband/manager ran off with her best friend.
“When that happened, I thought, ‘Forget it, this is more than I can handle — I’m never going to sing again,’” Twain tells The Post of that scandalous 2008 affair between Robert “Mutt” Lange and Marie-Anne Thiébaud. “I had to grieve through it.”
As she revealed in "From This Moment On", her 2011 page turner of a memoir, there’s nothing like being stabbed in the back to make you lose face — even if that face has been called “perfectly proportioned,” and you’ve sold 75 million albums.
But the writer of the feminist-inflected country-pop anthems “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “(If You’re Not in It for Love) I’m Outta Here!” wasn’t down for long.
For one thing, she fell in love — with Marie-Anne’s ex, Swiss-born Nestlé exec Frédéric Thiébaud, whom she married in 2011. For another, she had a son to bring up — Eja, now 13. It’s for Eja’s sake, she says, that her relations with her ex are cordial.
That civility doesn’t extend to his wife. “I don’t see her, ever,” Twain says of her former BFF. “I don’t invite that trigger into my life … She’s not my future — she’s my past.”
Also past is the name she was born with, 49 years ago: Eilleen Regina Edwards. The Twain came later, when her young, divorced mom married Jerry Twain, an Ojibwa Indian. When a record label urged the young singer to change her name, she insisted on keeping that part of it.
“So I thought, ‘What flows well with Twain?’? ” she recalls. As it happened, the wardrobe supervisor touring with her was Shania, an Ojibwa name, and Twain thought it “very pretty, unique and it happens to mean ‘on my way.’”
So was she. Her 1995 album, “The Woman in Me,” brought her the first of five Grammys, a heady run that stopped in 2004 — when she virtually went into seclusion in the home she shared with Lange in Switzerland, far from the prying lenses of paparazzi.
“It’s hard to explain,” she says of the dysphonia that stopped her from performing for the next eight years. “When you have an impairment in the voice-box area, it affects you psychologically — you get gun-shy: ‘Can I go for that note, that sound?’ It’s a vicious cycle.”
By 2012, Twain was back, with a residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. And that’s where she thought she’d pull the plug on performing for good.
“It took so much effort to get back onstage again, and I thought, ‘I’d rather end at the top, in that room, in that town,’?” she says. “I thought if I managed that, it was time to say goodbye — not to music, but to stage performing.”
But she couldn’t stop without one last tour.
“I’m going to visit the fans, instead of having them visit me,” she says. “It’s going to be completely different from Las Vegas.”
Not only that, but $1 of every ticket will go to her charity, Shania Kids Can, which helps schoolchildren who are struggling socially and economically.
“I always said, as a kid, ‘If I ever make it, I have to help kids like me,’? ” Twain says. “This tour [lets me] give back.”
Could there be a guest stint on TV’s “Nashville” or “Empire” in her future? She laughs, startled.
“I can’t imagine myself on either,” she says. “But now you’ve given me something to think about!”