Shania Twain seems set to stride the stage at equestrian park

Ottawa Citizen
By Lynn Saxberg
March 2, 2015

Is Shania Twain coming to Ottawa?

The country diva is on a media blitz this week, dropping hints that she’s set to make a big announcement on Wednesday. Speculation is that she will be announcing a major tour, her first in more than a decade.

At the same time, Wesley Clover Parks, the redeveloped Corkstown Road facility formerly known as the Nepean National Equestrian Park, is holding a media conference on Wednesday to make a major concert announcement.

Considering the timing, and Shania’s lifelong love of all things horsey, a huge outdoor show at the equestrian centre looks like a sure bet this summer. If confirmed, it would be Twain’s first Ottawa appearance since 2003.

For Twain, who’s sold more than 75 million albums and is considered the biggest-selling country female artist in history, the expected tour will be the centrepiece of a long-anticipated comeback. Twain hasn’t released a new album since 2002’s Up!, but she has been performing in recent years. A two-year residency at Las Vegas’s Caesar Palace wrapped up in December.

By all accounts, the Vegas show, Shania: Still The One, was a lavish affair, complete with two trained horses, a flying motorcycle, a campfire, a snowstorm and plenty of hits, including You’re Still the One, That Don’t Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, to name a few. Highlights from the show were broadcast as a primetime television special on Feb. 28 that drew an estimated 2.5 million viewers. The production is also the subject of Twain’s new live CD/DVD package, also titled Shania: Still The One Live From Vegas, in stores March 2, her first new product since a 2004 greatest hits album.

Despite the blitz, there are no guarantees that Twain will be able to recapture her share of the country market. Although country is hot right now, it’s attracting a new generation of fans who are going for  bro-country artists like Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan and Brad Paisley and pumped-up songs about girls, trucks and partying. It may be a challenge for Twain, a mom who turns 50 this year, to break into the new-country boys club with her anthems of female empowerment.

But if she can do it anywhere, it will be on home turf. Raised in Timmins, Twain overcame the odds to become the Juno-winning darling of the Canadian industry, earning multiple double-diamond certification for album sales of more than two million copies. She’s a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame and received the Order of Canada.

Her second album, The Woman In Me, which came out 20 years ago, first rocked the country world with a sassy mix of upbeat country and pop-rock. It was co-written and produced by her then-new husband, hit-making rock producer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange, a reclusive genius who was better known for his work with acts like AC/DC, Def Leppard and Bryan Adams.

Twain’s next two albums, 1997’s Come On Over and 2002’s Up!, both produced by Lange, were also hugely successful. The couple made their home in a castle in Switzerland.

In 2001, Twain and Lange had a boy they named Eja. A few years later, though, they divorced after Lange allegedly had an affair with Twain’s best friend. In a soap-opera-like twist, Twain later married the ex-friend’s ex-husband.

In her 2011 memoir, "From This Moment On," Twain describes falling into a depression after her divorce. She developed a condition called dysphonia, a disorder of the voice. In her case, she believed stress and anxiety caused the muscles around her vocal chords to tighten. She underwent therapy to treat it, and was in top form throughout the Vegas run.

On a break from Sin City, Twain tested the comeback waters last summer with two sold-out, outdoor concerts at the Calgary Stampede and one in P.E.I. Although she has yet to release a new studio album, Twain told the Calgary Herald last year that she’s writing all the time. “I’ll be in the studio as soon as I can get my ducks in a row,” she said.