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Eilleen Regina Edwards

Shania Twain

Shania Twain OC (born Eilleen Regina Edwards, August 28, 1965) is a Canadian singer and songwriter in the country and pop music genres. Her third album Come on Over is the best-selling album of all time by a female musician, and the best-selling album in the history of country music. She is the only female musician to have three albums certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America, and is also the second best selling artist in Canada, behind Céline Dion, with three of her studio albums being certified double diamond by the Canadian Recording Industry Association. Twain has achieved both critical and financial success, having received five Grammy awards, 27 BMI Songwriter awards, and sold over 65 million albums worldwide to date including 48 million in the US alone.

Early years

Twain was born in Windsor, Ontario, daughter of Clarence Edwards and his wife Sharon (née Morrison). Her parents divorced when she was two and her mother then moved with Eilleen and her sister Jill to Timmins, Ontario, where she married Jerry Twain, an Ojibwa. He adopted the girls, legally changing their last name to Twain. Because of her connection to her stepfather, in the past people had presumed Twain's ancestry was Ojibwa, but she stated in an interview that her biological father was part Cree.

One of five children, Eilleen Twain had a hard childhood in Timmins. Her parents earned little, and there was often a shortage of food in the household. She did not confide her situation to school authorities, fearing they might break up the family. In the remote, rugged community she learned to hunt and to chop wood. Aside from working at an Ontario McDonald's restaurant, Twain began to earn money by singing in local clubs and bars from a very young age to support her family. She was singing in bars at the age of just eight to try to make ends meet, often earning twenty dollars between midnight and two in the morning when the bar had closed but the people remained. Although she has expressed a dislike for singing in such a smoky atmosphere at such a young age, Shania believes that this was her performing arts school on the road to becoming a successful singer. At one point, while Jerry was at work, her mother drove the rest of the family to a Toronto homeless shelter for assistance (source: Shania's interview in the January 2005 Readers Digest).

Music career

Career as Eilleen Twain

At 13, Eilleen Twain, the future "Shania" Twain, was invited to perform on CBC television's Tommy Hunter Show. While attending Timmins High and Vocational School in Timmins, Ontario, she was the singer for a local band called "Longshot" which covered Top 40 music.

In 1984, she sang a duet performance on an album by Canadian musician (and present-day CKTB radio personality) Tim Denis.

When her mother and adoptive father died in a car accident on November 1, 1987, the 22-year-old Twain put her musical career on hold and took care of her family. She and her half-brothers Mark and Darryl, and sister Carrie Ann moved to Huntsville, Ontario, where she supported them by performing at the nearby Deerhurst Resort.

1993: Shania Twain

In 1991, she was invited to record a demo tape in Huntsville, Ontario. That led to her first recording contract with entertainment lawyer Richard Frank, whereupon she changed her name to Shania [Sha-nye-uh] an Ojibwa word which means "On my way".

Twain wrote only one of the songs ("God Ain't Gonna Getcha for That") on her self-titled debut album. The album's first two singles, "What Made You Say That" and "Dance with the One That Brought You" peaked at #55 on the Hot Country Songs chart, while its third single, "You Lay a Whole Lot of Love on Me", failed to reach the charts. The album failed to sell significant copies initially, although Twain's future success generated enough interest for the album to be certified platinum by the RIAA, denoting sales of over a million..

That same year, Twain sang harmony vocals on Sammy Kershaw's Haunted Heart album.

1995-1996: The Woman in Me

When rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange heard Twain's original songs and singing, he offered to produce her and to write songs with her. After many telephone conversations, they met at Nashville's Fan Fair in June 1993. Twain initially had no idea who he was but expressed a high degree of praise for his demos on the phone. Twain and Lange became very close within just weeks.

Lange and Twain started working on a second album, and in 1995 The Woman in Me produced her first No. 1 single, "Any Man of Mine". The album topped the country charts for months and crossed over to mainstream charts, peaking at No. 5. As of 2007 it had sold more than 12 million copies. The Woman in Me won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album as well as the Academy of Country Music award for Album of the Year; the latter group also awarded Twain as Best New Female Vocalist.

1997-2000: Come on Over

In 1997, Twain released her follow-up album, Come on Over. This was the album that would establish her as a successful crossover singer. Slowly, the album started racking up sales. It never hit the top spot, but with the multi-chart hit single "You're Still the One", sales skyrocketed. Other songs like "Don't Be Stupid", "Honey, I'm Home", "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!", "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "From This Moment On" joined the 12 songs that eventually saw release as singles.

The album stayed on the charts for the next two years and Come on Over went on to sell 20 million copies in the United States and over 34 million worldwide, making it the biggest-selling album of all time by a female musician, and the biggest-selling country album of all time. It is also the eighth biggest-selling album by any type of artist in the US.

Songs from the album won four Grammy Awards over the next two years, including Best Country Song for Twain and Lange for "You're Still the One" and "Come on Over" and Best Female Country Performance for "You're Still the One" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"

Despite the album's record sales it wasn't able to top the Billboard 200, reaching a peak of No. 2. In 1999, the "Come on Over" album was remixed for the European market as a pop album with less country instrumentation and actually gave her the big breakthrough in Europe she and her producer husband were looking for. "Come on over" went to No. 1 on the UK album charts for 11 weeks. It became the biggest selling album of the year in Great Britain and a bestseller in other big European markets as well, selling more than one million copies in both the UK and Germany. The songs that had finally drawn European attention to the album were the pop remixed singles "That Don't Impress Me Much", a No.3 in the UK and Top 10 hit in Germany in the summer of 1999, and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" which peaked at No. 3 in both the UK and France in autumn of that year. Additionally, the album set the record for the longest ever stay in the Top 20 of The US Billboard 200, remaining in the Top 20 for 99 weeks.

Twain's mainstream pop acceptance was further helped by her appearance in the 1998 first edition of the VH1 Divas concert, where she sang alongside Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Aretha Franklin and by VH1's 1999 heavily-aired Behind the Music treatment of her, which concentrated on the tragic aspects of her early life as well as her physical attractiveness and Nashville's early resistance to her bared-midriff music videos.

In 1998, Twain launched her first major concert tour, aided by her manager Jon Landau, a veteran of many large-scale tours with Bruce Springsteen. The Come on Over Tour shows were enthusiastically received by audiences around the globe and answered critics who speculated that she could not perform live.

2002-2004: Up!

After a two year break, Twain went back into the studio, along with a management change (QPrime replacing Landau), and recorded her latest CD. Up! was released on November 19, 2002. About a year later, Twain kicked off the Up! Tour in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on September 25, 2003.

Up! was released as a double album, with three different "remix" discs--pop (a red CD), country (a green CD) and world music (a blue CD). For North American markets, the pop disc was paired with the country disc and in international markets, the pop disc was paired with the world music disc. This disc was recorded in Mumbai, India. Up! was given four out of five stars by Rolling Stone magazine, and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart, selling 874,000 in the first week alone. It charted at the top for five weeks. The success of the album's pop version outside the US was equally amazing when "Up!" reached No.1 in Germany, No.2 in Australia and the Top Five in the UK and France. Especially in Germany it became a real long seller, certified quadruple platinum and stayed in the Top 100 for one and a half years.

The first single from the album, "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!", became a top 10 country hit in the US, after debuting at an impressive No. 24 after only five days of airplay; but only made the Top 40 on the pop charts. It was a much bigger hit on the other side of the Atlantic, released in a pop version, the single hit the Top Five in the UK and Australia as well as the Top 15 in Germany and France. The follow-up single "Up!" reached the Top 15 in the US country charts but failed to reach the pop Top 40.

The second European single became the mid-tempo song "Ka-Ching!,"(which was never released as a single in North America) with lyrics where Twain was criticizing unchecked consumerism. The song eventually became another smash hit in the important European markets, reaching No. 1 in Germany and Austria and other European countries, the UK Top 10 and the Top 15 in France.

The third single from the album would be the most successful in the US. The romantic ballad "Forever and For Always" was released as a single in April 2003 and peaked at No. 4 on the country chart and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and made as well the Billboard Top 20. Again success was even bigger on the other side of the Atlantic with "Forever and For Always" again reaching the Top 10 in both, the UK and Germany. Further singles were "She's Not Just a Pretty Face" a country Top 10 hit, while the last US single, "It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing", made the Top 20 on both Country and AC.

Due to the enormous European success of Up! and its first three singles, two more singles were released in the second half of 2003 with up-tempo "Thank You Baby" (No. 11 in the UK, Top 20 in Germany) and just before Christmas the romantic, acoustic ballad "When You Kiss Me", at least a minor hit in both territories. The title track "Up!" also saw a single release in a limited edition of European countries, such as Germany, in early 2004. In January 2008, Up! had sold 5.5 million copies in the U.S. (Certified by the RIAA as 11 times platinum due to the organization's rules regarding double albums, which are counted as two units for certifications).

In 2003, Twain participated in the Dolly Parton tribute album, Just Because I'm a Woman, covering Parton's classic "Coat of Many Colors", as a duet with Alison Krauss & Union Station. The cover peaked at No. 57 on the Hot Country Songs charts as an album cut. During the Super Bowl XXXVII halftime show Twain performed two songs, "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and "Up!".

2004: Greatest Hits

In 2004, she released the Greatest Hits album, with three new tracks. As of 2008, it has sold over four million copies in the U.S. The first single, the multi-format duet "Party for Two", made the country top ten with Billy Currington, while the pop version with Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath made top ten in the United Kingdom and Germany. The follow-up singles, "Don't!" and "I Ain't No Quitter" didn't fare as well, the former made Top 20 on Adult Contemporary, while the latter didn't gain enough airplay to even crack the Country Top 40.

In August 2005, when Twain turned 40, she released the single "Shoes" from the Desperate Housewives soundtrack. It only peaked at No. 29 on the country chart and therefore, a video, which was scheduled to be created, was cancelled.

2007-present

At the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on May 16, 2007, Twain said she was currently writing songs for a new album, and was doing a "lot of soul searching" and "indulging in the writing."

Twain joined Canadian singer Anne Murray on the song "You Needed Me" on Murray's Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends album released November 13, 2007 in Canada, and on January 15, 2008 in the US.

Discography

Albums

  • 1993: Shania Twain, U.S. sales: 1 million (Platinum) (2 million worldwide)
  • 1995: The Woman in Me, U.S. sales: 10 million (12x Platinum) (21 million worldwide)
  • 1997: Come On Over, U.S. sales: 18 million (20x Platinum) (39 million worldwide)
  • 2001: The Complete Limelight Sessions, Sales below 100,000
  • 2002: Up!, U.S. sales: 5.5 million (11x Platinum) (16 million worldwide)
  • 2004: Greatest Hits, U.S. sales: 3.2 million (4x Platinum) (6.5 million worldwide)

Personal life

Twain married music producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange on December 28, 1993 and they have a son, Eja D'Angelo (pronounced "Asia") who was born on August 12, 2001. On May 15, 2008, a spokesperson for Mercury Nashville announced that Twain and Lange were separating.

She resides in a chateau in La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland and on a sheep farm near Wanaka, New Zealand. Twain practices Sant Mat, which calls for daily meditation and vegetarianism.

Twain's commercial ventures outside the music industry included a series of cosmetic ads in 1999 based on "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" for Revlon. She also starred in ads for Candie's shoes and Gitano jeans, who also sponsored her 1998-1999 Come On Over Tour.

Despite the Revlon cosmetic ads and venturing into the perfume market, Twain has stated that she is uneasy about being a sex symbol and has often felt uncomfortable and stressed during photo shoots where she believes it is music that will last forever, not an image. "When I began singing I wanted to be a backing singer for Dolly Parton or Stevie Wonder, I didn't sign up to be a model or actress and didn't want fame," she has said. "For me it's all about music. Music is when I feel at my best, spiritually, emotionally and physically".

According to Twain one of her beauty tips is applying an ointment known as Bag Balm that is normally applied to cow's udders during the winter months to protect it from the harsh weather. Twain has confessed to using the covering on her legs and all over her face for soft skin.

In January 2005, Twain paired up with Scentstories by Febreze and created a limited edition scent disc with the proceeds going to America's Second Harvest.

Late in 2005, Twain partnered COTY for the creation of her namesake fragrance " Shania by Stetson". A second fragrance was released in September 2007, called Shania Starlight".

Awards and honours

In addition to her various awards for her singles and albums, Twain has received a number of personal honours:

References

External links

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