Shania Twain says farewell to touring with show coming to Scottrade Center

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Kevin C. Johnson
July 30, 2015

Country-pop star Shania Twain is back on the touring scene, if only to say goodbye.

Her “Rock This Country” tour comes to Scottrade Center Tuesday night, and it’s no secret that her comeback is also her farewell. She’s retiring from touring, though not from music.

“I will be doing music until the day I die,” says the Grammy-winning Twain in a Q&A with reporters. She — along with Garth Brooks — paved the way for younger generations including Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum.

The Canadian artist (born Eilleen Regina Edwards) is known for her pop-leaning hits that include “You’re Still the One” and “Man! I Feel like a Woman.”

“I love music so much,” Twain says. “But the performance side of it I feel is a phase in my life. I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ll be 50 this year, and been onstage since I was 8 years old, and I’ve put my fair share into performance. The timing is right to do other things musically.”

Twain says writing remains her passion, and she wants to make more records without worrying about the rigors of touring.

“I miss making records, and I haven’t made enough records in my life and career,” says Twain. Surprisingly, she has only released four albums, beginning with a self-titled album in 1993. Her most recent is 2002’s “Up!”

“If I’m distracted by all facets of the tour, how much music am I really going to be able to write and how many albums am I going to be able to make?” she says. “I can’t do them both at the same time.

“I’ve done a lot more live performing than I’ve done recording. I want to do a lot more recording and I want to write songs for other artists that are coming up. I want to sit back and enjoy them and be proud that I’m part of their success. That’s a whole exciting phase for me I’m looking forward to — seeing that evolution in my career.”

Twain is working on a new album. Typically, artists go on tour with new material following an album, but Twain hasn’t planned that.

Instead, if some songs are completed in time, Twain says she’ll introduce one or two of them into her current tour’s set list.

But she feels even that is something she’ll need to do carefully.

“I don’t want to bore people with songs they don’t know,” she says. “I know when I go to a concert, I wanna hear the songs I know and I’m familiar with and have memories of.”

It’s often difficult to tell when an artist’s “final tour” is really a final tour. Twain is at least a generation younger than many artists on farewell tours, making her exit look premature.

“My frame of mind is I want to go on and do different things, and I need more time to do it,” she says. “It takes a lot of focus to write meaningful songs, a lot of emotional energy and it’s time consuming.”

Going on tour again makes this a very exciting time for her — a reunion of sorts between her and her fans. A lot has happened over the past decade, and she feels music is bringing everyone back together.

“We’re going to celebrate and reminisce to all the hits they know and have lived with for all those years,” she says. “The most rewarding thing for me is seeing the fans and feeling their excitement and sharing mine with them.”

Since those fans last saw her on the road, she says she’s having a lot more fun, and she’s more relaxed and savoring every moment as if it’s her last.

“I’m in a farewell spirit and a reunion spirit,” Twain says. “It’s emotional for me, and I’m putting my best foot forward in every way. It’s a bit of a bittersweet experience.”

She promises the “Rock This Country” tour comes with high-end technology and a fresh look and feel. And she promises it’ll be different from “Shania: Still the One,” her two-year residency in Las Vegas that closed in December.

She says she started from scratch.

One thing she took away from Vegas was the feeling that comes from having the audience close to her.

“That’s one of the luxuries I enjoyed,” Twain says. “I like to see people close up, touch the people, mingle with them. Having them so close to the stage in such a controlled room, I learned I have to do more of this. I decided I wanted to do this when I go out on tour.”

In Vegas, she realized how much she missed the touring stage and figured it would “be fun to visit people in their hometowns and experience that again.”

The fact that Twain is even singing is something of a miracle.

During a decade-long hiatus that began in 2004, in addition to her decision to take time to be with her young son, she feared she’d lost her voice. Twain suffers from dysphonia, an impairment of the vocal cords.

“It was very, very scary,” she says. “It went way beyond not being able to perform. It went beyond my concerns for my career. It was like I was losing a hand. There was a grieving process feeling like I’d lost the voice I knew and the voice I wanted to have.”

Getting her voice back involved much vocal therapy along with persistence and determination. “It was tedious, repetitive, tiring, boring, similar to what an athlete has to go through if they had an injury. You have to start from scratch. And then there was the process of learning to live with the voice that is slightly different because you’re never exactly the same again.”

She’s working steadily on the new album while touring, using a portable setup that has been allowing her to record her vocals and produce demos.

“I can be electronically connected to producers wherever they are, and the producers will come out to me as well while I’m touring, and I’ll poke away at it like that. They can send me sessions, we can Skype — there’s various ways to do this that are pretty effective.”

The new songs are stylistically hard for her to explain and different from earlier work, while still being relatable, she says.

“I don’t think the songs are obscure or anything, though there are going to be a lot of unexpected elements. I’ve matured, evolved. I have different things to express that weren’t true of me 15 years ago.”


What Shania Twain’s “Rock This Country” tour • When 7:30 p.m. Tuesday • Where Scottrade Center, 1401 Clark Avenue • How much $43-$133 • More info