Shania Twain Biography

Eilleen Regina Edwards, 28 August 1965, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. This glamorous Canadian country/pop star (her first name is pronounced ‘Shu-nye-ah’) grew up in the mining town of Timmins. Before her musical career began she planted trees with her Native American stepfather as part of a forest crew. Poor even by rural Canadian standards, her family made great sacrifices to support her embryonic career. She took a job at the Deerhurst resort in northern Ontario as the headline vocalist in a variety of musical productions. Afterwards she concentrated on country music, employing her friend and former performer Mary Bailey as her manager. Bailey put her in contact with attorney Dick Frank in 1991, leading to a demo tape recorded in Nashville with songwriter and producer Norro Wilson and Buddy Cannon, Mercury Records’ A&R manager. Both the tragedy of her parents’ death (they were both killed in an automobile accident in November 1987) and their musical legacy were explored on her debut, with songs written by Mike Reid and Kent Robbins. The album’s best song, ‘God Ain’t Gonna Get You For That’, was the only one part-composed by the artist, pointing the way to future artistic growth. Elsewhere the single ‘Dance With The One That Brought You’, a staple of Country MTV, directed by Sean Penn, provoked comparisons with Trisha Yearwood.

Twain’s follow-up album saw a rare non-rock outing for her producer, songwriting partner and husband Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange (Def Leppard, Foreigner), who spent much of 1994 working on sessions with the singer in Nashville. The Woman In Me was an extraordinary crossover success in the USA, not only when it was first released, but over a year later, when it went back to the top of the album charts for another six months. Sales of this album had topped 10 million by 1998 and yielded four Top 10 country hits. During that eventful year, Twain won most of the country music awards, including the Entertainer Of The Year trophy, and released her follow-up album, Come On Over. This was predominantly a pop collection, with Twain’s country roots buried beneath Lange’s glossy production. ‘You’re Still The One’ was a crossover hit, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May, and the album became a permanent fixture in both the US and UK Top 10. Another huge US hit, ‘From This Moment On’, was the single which broke Twain in the UK, debuting at number 9 in November. ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ and ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’ were also huge US/UK hit singles the following year, and by March 2000 the album was confirmed as both the bestselling album in country music history, and the bestselling album ever by a female artist. The album was certified as 20 times platinum at the end of 2004, putting it sixth in the list of bestselling albums in US music history.

By altering her musical course slightly, Twain has done much to popularize country music to a wider US audience and to reinvent herself in the UK as a pop singer. The heavily hyped follow-up Up! became another huge chart-topping success, showing that any country fans lost on the way were more than compensated for by the legions of new young female pop fans.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.