Interview: Shania Twain makes a comeback with her farewell tour, playing Oklahoma City Wednesday
By Brandy McDonnell
August 7, 2015
The best thing about being a woman, Shania Twain once opined, is the prerogative to have a little fun.
Since the country-pop superstar's "Rock This Country" trek serves as both a reunion series and a farewell tour, she's seizing that prerogative.
“It’s just a celebration tour for a lot of reasons. I’m reuniting with the fans out in their own hometowns; that I have not done in a decade. It is a goodbye to the stage, so the show is just full of great technology, the highest-end possible. It’s a very dynamic show, more dynamic than ever before, and I just think no one has ever seen me in this light ever before,” Twain said in a May conference call before launching her first tour in 11 years.
“I think it will be memorable. It’s gonna rock, that’s for sure, and it’ll be a lot of fun. I’m in a good spirit for it and just trying to visit the fans’ hometowns and come to them. Because the last two years in Las Vegas, the fans have been coming to me, so 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.”
One of the best-selling female recording artists in music history, Twain, who turns 50 on Aug. 28, will rock this part of the country Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Since it’s the music that’s bringing her back together with her fans, the Canadian country-rocker said her new shows focus on her humungous hits from the 1990s and early 2000s -- "Any Man of Mine,” "That Don't Impress Me Much,” “You’re Still the One,” "Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" and more -- gilded with plenty of lasers, pyrotechnics and sexy sequined outfits.
Back the saddle
During the shows, Twain has been literally getting back in the saddle -- a fringed one attached to a telescopic lift that boosts her up and closer to the audience. She told me coming a little closer was a goal for the tour after her two-year residency at Sin City’s legendary Caesars Palace.
“The audiences there were very close to the stage, so it was one of the luxuries that I enjoyed because I love to see the people close up. I love to touch the people and mingle with them, and so it was really cool to do so much of that then,” she told me during the teleconference.
“What I learned was, I have to do more of this, I want to do more of this, and I want to make sure that when I go out on the road and we do this tour, that I don’t miss out on that. I have to make sure that I’m able to get out there into the audience and touch people and look at them in the eye and be among them. … So, that’s been part of the plan and that’s been built into the production.”
The influential “Queen of Country Pop” said the connection to the fans was what she missed most as a planned short sabbatical stretched into a decade-long break from show business. Twain is the only artist to have three consecutive albums sell more than 10 million copies in the United States -- 1995’s “The Woman In Me,” 1997’s “Come On Over” and 2002’s “Up!” -- and “Come On Over” was a bona fide global phenomenon, becoming the best-selling country album of all time and the best-selling album ever released by a female artist.
“Initially, why I had slowed down after the last tour was more just for the break and to be a mom, and those few years after the last tour were very deliberately to concentrate on my son and my home because at the end of that tour my son was just starting school for the first time. … Then the problems started compounding with the voice and so on and so forth,” she said.
“I’ve evolved a lot over the years. My life has changed so dramatically and my point of view has changed in a lot of ways, the way I see my role on stage and what I mean to fans and what they mean to me, all of that is more valuable and just another level of maturity that I have now -- and gratitude.”
Along with a painful divorce from her husband, producer and co-writer Robert “Mutt” Lange, Twain also struggled with lesions on her vocal cords and a vocal impairment called dysphonia. She said she went through a long, painful rehabilitation process similar to one an athlete would undertake for a major injury. She now requires 90 minutes of physical and vocal warmups before a show.
“It went way beyond not being able to perform or concerns for my career … it was a part of me I was losing, like losing a hand or something. I was going through a grieving process. I really thought that I lost my voice, the voice that I knew and the voice that I once had. It was very scary, and it was just something I was having a terrible time coming to terms with,” she said. “It was a lot of work. … It’s tedious. It’s repetitive. It’s boring. It’s tiring. It’s painful a lot of the time.”
Farewell to the stage
Although her North American comeback tour has already been expanded into late October -- and according to Billboard, an international trek is likely -- the singer-songwriter said she intends it to be her last.
“It’s certainly not my retirement from music. I will be doing music, I’m sure, until the day I die,” she said with a laugh. “I love music too much. The performance side of it, I feel, is a phase in my life and 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. And (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 in my career.”
Even when she almost lost her voice, Twain said she never stopped writing songs. Known for breaking down boundaries between genres during her heyday, she has noticed that the lines between formats have blurred even more since she recorded “Up.” That makes it an exciting time to make a new album, and she shared her plans to use a portable recording setup to keep working on the new project during the tour.
“I don’t know really how it’s going to turn out stylistically. Right now, it’s just me and my guitar so that’s kind of blank as far as being able to pinpoint where it will really end up as a finished record, once it’s produced. But I want to take a very organic approach to it. I’m leaning towards wanting the music to sound more organic than my previous stuff,” she said.
“But lyrically I’m still doing the self-reflection and kind of writing in that vein. I’m just different now, and I’ve lived a lot of different things since then. So, the stories and the themes will be obviously different and will reflect how I’ve evolved.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, 100 W Reno.
Information: (800) 745-3000 or www.chesapeakearena.com.