Shania Twain, who grew up loving music, began creating songs at the age of ten. Twain achieved popularity with her second album, The Woman in Me (1995), before releasing Come on Over (1997), the best-selling country album of all time.
Following a lengthy break due to personal and health issues, Twain returned to the spotlight in 2011 with a memoir and a Las Vegas residency in 2012. With 2017’s Now, she published her first album of original material in 15 years, and she made her feature film debut with Trading Paint in 2019.
Eilleen Regina Edwards, later known as Shania Twain, was born on August 28, 1965 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Her parents split when she was young, but her mother, Sharon, quickly remarried to an Ojibwa man named Jerry Twain. Jerry adopted Sharon’s three girls, and Eilleen, at four, became Eilleen Twain.
Twain grew up in the little Ontario town of Timmins. There, her family often battled to make ends meet, and Twain’s lunch at school was sometimes little more than a “poor man’s sandwich” (bread slathered with mayonnaise or mustard). Jerry had a violent tendency as well, and Twain and her siblings observed him assault Sharon on multiple occasions.
Music, on the other hand, was a bright point in Twain’s boyhood. She began singing at the age of three, began playing the guitar at the age of eight, and began writing her own songs at the age of ten. Sharon welcomed her daughter’s potential, making sacrifices the family couldn’t afford to get Twain to classes and performances. Twain grew up singing in clubs and at community events, with occasional ventures into television and radio, thanks to her mother’s support.
Overcoming a Family Tragedy
At the age of 18, Twain chose to pursue a singing career in Toronto. She got work, but it wasn’t enough to sustain herself, so she took odd jobs, including a spell at McDonald’s.
Twain’s life was turned upside down in 1987, when her parents died in a vehicle accident. Twain returned to Timmins and took a job singing as part of a Las Vegas-style show at the nearby Deerhurst resort in Huntsville, Ontario, to support her three younger siblings (in addition to Twain’s younger sister, Sharon and Jerry had had a son together and had also adopted Jerry’s nephew).
Twain, on the other hand, had not given up on making her own music and continued to write songs in her spare time. Her tape made her to Nashville, where she was signed to Polygram Records (later renamed Mercury Nashville).
Early Career in Nashville
Although her new label enjoyed Twain’s music, they didn’t like the name Eilleen Twain. Twain kept her last name to commemorate her adoptive father, but changed her first name to Shania, an Ojibwe phrase that means “I’m on my way.”
Debut Album: ‘Shania Twain’
Twain criticized her lack of artistic control in Nashville, where she was encouraged to use songs written by others. Nonetheless, her debut album, Shania Twain, was published in 1993. The album was not a major success (though Twain’s video for “What Made You Say That,” in which she wore a crop top, received a lot of attention), but it did reach one important fan: Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who had previously produced albums for AC/DC, the Cars, and Def Leppard. Lange contacted Twain and agreed to collaborate on her next album.
Albums and Songs
‘The Woman in Me’
Twain and Lange co-wrote 10 of Twain’s following album, The Woman in Me (1995). Twain adored the album, but given Lange’s rock background and the record’s ventures into pop and country music, she was concerned about how it would be received.
She didn’t have to be concerned. “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” debuted at No. 11 on the country charts. The rock-infused “Any Man of Mine,” the follow-up single, surged to No. 1 on the country charts and was also a Top 40 pop success. The following year, Twain garnered four Grammy nominations and won Best Country Album. The Woman in Me was a critical and economic triumph, selling more than 12 million copies in the United States.
‘Come On Over’
Twain’s subsequent album, Come On Over (1997), another collaboration with Lange, blended country and pop even more. It also featured several chart-topping songs, such as “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” as well as sentimental ballads like “You’re Still the One” and “From This Moment On.”
Twain won two Grammys for “You’re Still The One” in 1999, one for Best Country Song and the other for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. The song also topped Billboard’s country charts. Twain won two more Grammys the next year for “Come On Over” as Best Country Song and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” as Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Come On Over topped the country charts for a total of 50 weeks. It went on to become the best-selling country album of all time, selling 40 million copies worldwide, as well as the best-selling album by a single female artist. Twain rose to international prominence after the success of Come On Over, which was followed by a successful tour.
‘Up!’ and ‘Greatest Hits’
Twain’s Up! was released in 2002. The album was released in three versions: a pop red disc, a country green disc, and a blue disc with an international, Bollywood-influenced flavor. The red and green combination topped Billboard’s country and Top 200 charts (the rest of the world received the red-blue combination, which was also successful). However, sales fell short of Twain’s prior major smashes, selling 5.5 million copies in the United States.
Shania Twain has recorded enough material for her first greatest hits collection by 2004. When it was released in the fall of that year, it topped the charts and went quadruple platinum.
Twain’s personal life seemed to take off alongside her professional life. After months of working over the phone with Lange, the two finally met in person in June 1993. They married six months later.
Twain and Lange moved to a magnificent Swiss home in search of greater privacy. Twain gave birth to a son, Eja D’Angelo Lange, while living in Switzerland in 2001. Twain also became acquainted with Marie-Anne Thiébaud, who worked as the couple’s assistant.
Twain and Lange divorced in 2008, when Twain realized her husband was having an affair with Thiébaud. Two years later, Twain and Lange’s divorce was formalized.
Twain struggled greatly during his divorce and separation. Not only had her marriage ended, but she’d also lost someone who had aided in the development of her job. Twain began to have dysphonia, a tightness of the vocal muscles that made it difficult for her to sing, at this time.
However, there was one person who understood what Twain was going through: Marie-Anne’s ex-husband, Frederic Thiébaud. Twain and Frederic became closer and married on January 1, 2011.