Shania Twain reveals plans after departing Caesars Palace in December
By Robin Leach
October 14, 2014
Ever since Queen of Country Pop superstar Shania Twain jump-started her career two years ago after a decade-long break, she has dazzled and wowed Las Vegas audiences, proving that sheís ĎStill the One.Ē Her two-year reign over the Strip, as the bestselling female country artist of all time, ends with the completion of her Caesars Palace residency on Dec. 13.
Shania is the first to admit that she lost her confidence and her singing voice after her husband and producer Robert ďMuttĒ Lange had an affair with her best friend. It took her new marriage to Frederic Thiebaud, the jilted husband of that girlfriend, and support from singers Lionel Richie and Las Vegas queen Gladys Knight for Shania to find the strength to return to performing.
Her life has been a remarkable journey from poverty hardships to stardom, and in an exclusive interview at one of Caesars Palaceís luxury villas over Dom Perignon, Shania ó who has become involved in the community while here, including serving as the celebrity grand marshal of the annual Great Santa Run last winter ó talked candidly with me about her future plans after her successful Strip run ends.
The two-year residency is coming to an end. It seems like only yesterday you rode into town on a horse and stopped traffic. Youíre still stopping traffic, but what has it all meant to you?
It has been a great two years. It went by so fast! Itís coming to an end now, but Iíve had a wonderful experience. I do feel like Iíve made the most of it while I was here. Iím taking a ton of memories with me and a lot of new friends.
There are many happy memories. The first is the wonderful surprise that Las Vegas was to me compared to the perception that I had before I came, that Las Vegas was mainly a gambling city.
I had always toured through Las Vegas, came to some award shows, stopped overnight, and then I would leave town so I never really got to experience the town really for what it is. Beyond the gambling and the tourism, it has a real heart to it, and thereís a lot of charity that goes on in the city.
You also have amazing chefs in this city.
And youíve hit many of their restaurants?
Iíve made a point of going to many of the restaurants, many of the shows; I enjoy the shows repeatedly. You know, the town has kept me entertained, so I will go away with all of these wonderful experiences of being entertained as an entertainer. I have many favorites. Donít miss Giada at the Cromwell or Guy Savoy right here at Caesars. Las Vegas is fun from start to finish!
While here, you started the Shania Kids Can project at one of our schools. I was there the first day that you opened it. Howís it going, and how do you keep it going when you move back home?
I just recently visited the school, Tom Williams Elementary, and the kids are doing great. Itís just a real success story. The children are opening up more all the time; they are feeling special for the first time in a lot of their lives; they feel now that theyíre privileged.
Itís intended for underprivileged children, and they are feeling privileged through this program, and Iím happy for them. Itís very emotionally rewarding for me.
The success of the Las Vegas school project has now led in the past few days to opening up one back home in Canada?
Thatís right. Actually, weíre opening up a few in Canada. Itís just spreading! I think the interest from the schools is spreading, as well. The success weíve had here in Las Vegas is bringing a lot of awareness to people who might want to donate and believe in the cause.
It helps open up more programs and more schools, and itís a huge success. The schools love it, the principals, the program leaders; itís resonating throughout the whole community.
And all of this came about because you had a pretty tough impoverished childhood, as well, growing up, and you wanted to make certain that little kids didnít have the same difficulties that you faced.
Exactly. I promised myself when I was a little kid that I would make sure that I didnít have to live like that for the rest of my life and that I was going to do something about it for myself. I also thought what about the kids who may not have the same drive or even the chance to pull themselves out of it and manage on their own. Iím going to do something to help them help themselves.
Thatís what this program does. Iíve come back and customized the program around my own personal experiences. The program has been developed completely based on what Iíve lived through and what I personally know and understand and know what is missing in schools and what the kidsí needs are.So itís very personalized for them and very specific in helping them build their confidence, make them feel like they belong and that they are never left out or isolated. I felt that way when I was a kid and bullied for maybe coming to school with holes in my clothes or maybe my hair was greasy and I was embarrassed, or I couldnít afford to participate in field trip programs.
These kids belong in everything at the school, and theyíve got their own individual things that even the rest of the kids arenít necessarily involved in because itís their special thing, and they just feel like theyíre special.
So their progress is definitely a memory that youíre taking along with you?
Absolutely. Iím just so thrilled to see it growing and successful and to see these kids happy. Itís amazing; you wouldnít believe how itís affecting these kids. Theyíre just coming out of themselves with confidence!
Shania, you talk about confidence for them. This two-year stay in Las Vegas was a confidence builder for you, too. I remember Lionel Ritchie telling me before you came here that youíd literally given up singing.
Yeah, and this experience in Las Vegas brought it all back right. I had to force myself into a very uncomfortable zone. I have a natural performance anxiety anyway that Iíve had ever since I was little. So itís a part of who I am as a performer; itís something I have to take with me the whole way.
I especially became defeatist about the possibility of ever being able to really sing again because my voice was giving me so many problems. Not so much my voice, but the physiology around my voice was giving me a lot of problems, and I just wasnít able to project my voice or have any real control, certainly not enough to sing properly or sound like me.
So what happened?
It was a real journey, and I really have to say I thank Gladys Knight; she was a part of that journey. I sat with her and talked to her about it in person, and she had all the right things to say and was very encouraging and shared her own experiences. Then Lionel Ritchie was a very big force because it took him a while to get me to sing on that record with him for ďEndless Love.Ē I was petrified.
He got me on the phone and Ö he was a fantastic coach. He was like a shrink, to be honest, and he really convinced me that I needed to try, and once I got into his company in person, he just brought it all out of me and Iím just so grateful. Step by step, little by little, there were moments where I thought, ďHmmm, OK, maybe I can do it.Ē
Maybe I can overcome this and learn to work around it. Having to go through all of the vocal physiotherapy, as well, that was a lot of work on my part. The biggest job was taking the plunge and getting the courage to face the fear of not succeeding at it.
Iím just so thrilled that we pulled it off.
We have you here in Las Vegas until Dec. 13, and then what? The eagerly awaited album? Does the break from Las Vegas now allow that to happen and give you a chance to finish the album? I guess the visits to Calgary and Charlottetown with the show, while you were on hiatus here, seem to me to say you will be touring again for the first time in a decade? Is that the plan?
All of the above! You just got it right on. First of all, the success here in Las Vegas has given me a confidence that I have not had in years, even in past tours. I really have been able to build up a lot more courage and a lot more confidence in myself. Yeah, Iím ready for more things now!
I am in the middle of putting the album together, and thatís very exciting. Thatís a whole new world there for me because that took a lot of courage, too. Just to really dive in there and expose my songwriting for the first time after a long time to my peers and have to sit there and get the feedback and be brave enough to do that.
So thatís coming along, and, yes, I donít want to leave the stage just yet. Iím going to put some tour dates together and put it on the road and do some concerts because it was very exciting going to Calgary and Prince Edward Island recently. Being with these giant crowds was very exciting, and itís motivated me to carry on doing that.
So I think we have a reason to toast success in several directions, and thereís nothing better in my life than doing that with fine champagne.
I would love to!
* * *
We sipped our way through four Dom Perignon vintages. She loved the 2003 Blanc de Blanc, while I picked the 2003 Rose as our favorites. Shania is not only beautiful, but also captivating with her warm, genuine and friendly personality.
Of my 50-plus years of interviewing celebrities around the world, I honestly can say that she is one very special lady at the top of my Top 10 favorites. She is always charming with genuine innocence and wonder.
Shaniaís show, still the only one on the Strip to ever feature a horse and with her glamorous costumes, a 13-piece live band, three singers including her sister Carrie Ann and four dancers, is at the Colosseum in Caesars now until Oct. 25 and then from Dec. 6 until her final performance on Dec. 13.
Tip: In her closing number, Shania throws her hat into the audience, and whoever catches it meets her after the show!
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the worldís premier platinum playground.
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TV cameras record my Caesars Palace interview with Shania Twain revealing new album and new tour.
Shania Twain and I enjoy champagne after our interview at Caesars Palace.