By Sondra Barr
Shania Twain is a name that is synonymous with an extraordinary journey of success, resilience, and reinvention. Known for her magnetic stage presence, catchy tunes, and record-breaking career, Twain has faced adversity throughout her life and conquered it with grace, determination, and sheer willpower.
Born Eilleen Regina Edwards in 1965 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Twain grew up in difficult circumstances. Her family lived in poverty, and she had to resort to singing in bars as a child to help support them.
“From the age of 8, I would go singing folk and country songs at clubs at the weekend. Sometimes even after midnight till two or three in the morning on a school night. I didn’t enjoy being in those places at all,” she told the Big Issue in 2007. “I developed a lot of stage fright. Sometimes there were strippers going on before me and by the time I went on everyone in there was quite drunk. It wasn’t an environment for a child.”
She also endured abuse throughout her turbulent childhood. In an interview with The Sunday Times, she divulged how she’d try to deflect the physical and sexual abuse for her late stepfather Jerry Twain.
“I hid myself and I would flatten my boobs,” she told the outlet. “I would wear bras that were too small for me, and I’d wear two, play it down until there was nothing girl about me. Make it easier to go unnoticed.” She added, “Because, oh my gosh, it was terrible––you didn’t want to be a girl in my house.”
Despite these hardships, she remained passionate about music and took every opportunity to develop her talent. Yet Twain continued to encounter adversity. Her parents died in a tragic car accident in 1987, leaving her to care for her younger siblings. In a 2011 interview with Oprah Winfrey, she said, “My music is the only thing that kept me going through all of that time. It was my therapy and my escape.”
Twain’s journey to superstardom began in earnest when she caught the eye of legendary music producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Together, they created her breakthrough 1995 album, The Woman in Me, which catapulted her to fame and set the stage for her record-shattering third album, Come on Over, in 1997. Come On Over became the best-selling country album of all time and secured Twain’s status as a global sensation.
“I don’t think I felt confident that I was going to make it until I made my first album with Mutt Lange, The Woman in Me [in 1995]. I wasn’t sure at the beginning if it would work, it was quite an unusual collaboration. Once it started, I felt that what we were creating was good but when we had real success with it [20 million global sales], that gave me a much greater confidence about the future,” she told the Big Issue. “After the release of Man! I Feel Like a Woman! it started getting so big. I just thought ‘wow, this is bigger than I ever imagined it could be.’”
Later in her career, Twain faced a series of health issues that threatened to end her singing days. In 2003, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which caused her to lose her voice due to vocal cord damage. “It took years to get to the bottom of what was affecting my voice,” she told the British talk show Loose Women. “And I would say probably a good seven years before a doctor was able to find out that it was nerve damage to my vocal cords directly caused by Lyme disease.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone, she said, “I had to accept that it might never come back, but I never gave up.”
Twain underwent extensive therapy and learned to sing again, making an impressive comeback with her 2017 album, Now.
Throughout her career, Twain has been the subject of plastic surgery rumors. While she has never confirmed undergoing any procedures, she has maintained that her transformation over the years is simply the result of her evolving style and self-care. In a 2019 interview with The Guardian, she said, “I’m not one of those people who say, ‘Oh, I wish I could go back to when I was 20.’ I’m not nostalgic for my youth.”
In recent years, Shania Twain has been actively involved in philanthropic activities, giving back to the community in various ways. In 2010, she established the Shania Kids Can Foundation (shaniakidscan.com), aimed at helping underprivileged children in the areas of nutrition, education, and personal development. The foundation’s work is inspired by Twain’s own childhood experiences and her understanding of the importance of a supportive environment for children in need. “I know that if a helping hand had been extended to me as a child, my life would have been different,” she said during an interview with Hello! Canada about the foundation.
Twain’s current projects reflect her ongoing dedication to her art and her fans. She released her sixth studio album Queen of Me in February of this year.
“This new record is fun and celebrative, really on the other side of Now. Twain said in a Rolling Stone Musicians on Musicians interview. “I’m happy in my own skin. I’m celebrating that feeling, less apologetic for who I am and what I’ve become. This is me, and I like myself.”
She added: “A lot of it was written during the pandemic. There’s nothing better for me than to not have enough to do, because the first thing I do is pick up my guitar and start songwriting. Now I’ve got four albums’ worth. I’m not kidding.”
Twain embarked on a worldwide tour in April to support her new album, giving fans the chance to experience her infectious energy and powerful performances once again. In a recent social media post, she shared her excitement about hitting the road: “I can’t wait to get back on stage, connect with my fans, and share my new music with the world. We’re going to have so much fun!”
Despite the numerous trials and tribulations she has faced throughout her life, Twain’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance, adaptability, and believing in oneself. As she continues to redefine her musical legacy and make a difference through her philanthropic work, Twain remains an inspiration to millions around the globe.
In the words of the queen of country pop herself, from her hit song Up!: When everything is goin’ wrong, don’t worry, it won’t last for long. Yeah, it’s all gonna come around. Don’t go let it get you down. You gotta keep on holding on.” Shania Twain’s journey is a beautiful reminder that with determination, hard work, and a positive attitude, anything is possible, even in the face of adversity.
As we celebrate her incredible accomplishments, we look forward to the next chapter in Twain’s illustrious career, confident that she will continue to grace us with her exceptional talent and indomitable spirit.