- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
To say Shania Twain paved the way for women in modern country music is an understatement — she kicked the door wide open upon her arrival in the ‘90s.
Her 1995 album “The Woman In Me” was a game changer that appealed to a broader audience, and was only a preview of what was to come. The crossover album took the traditional parts of country and combined them with rock and pop. She continued to evolve, and the 1997 follow-up "Come On Over" featuring the singles "Man! I Feel Like A Woman!" and the romantic ballad "You're Still The One" was a smash success. Her 2002 album “Up!” pushed the bar higher and featured three different versions: Country, world and pop.
But it's been a turbulent reign for the Queen of Country Pop. The 2022 Netflix documentary "Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl" reveals an inside look to the messy divorce from her producer and husband of 14 years, Robert John "Mutt" Lange. She was also diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2003, which damaged her vocal chords and left her unable to sing for over a decade. But Twain's perseverance to sing again was revealed when Lionel Richie gave her the confidence to appear on a 2012 duet of "Endless Love."
She made a successful return to the stage in 2015 and dropped the comeback album "Now" in 2017.
Twain, who is performing on May 31 at Acrisure Arena, released her sixth album, "Queen of Me," in 2023, which features production work by Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots, producer/songwriter Adam Messinger, British producer David Stewart and more.
"I'm living my best life right now," Twain said during a recent phone interview with The Desert Sun.
"I don't doubt myself and I'm way less apologetic about my performance expectations. I'm more courageous in trying things, even though I might not get there vocally," Twain said. "There's nothing to be afraid of. I have the best voice I could possibly have right now, and I'm celebrating it. If I could do the whole show acapella, I would, but nobody would be happy about that. I enjoy having this courage. I don't want to say that I've earned it because I don't know if you can earn courage, but I've certainly earned the right to celebrate it."
"Queen of Me" features a sound that's heavier on pop and electronic music, but still feels like a country album, and Twain still sounds ahead of the game three decades into her career. As technology has changed music production, she has immediate access to her creativity and often shapes songs without a producer.
"I wanted to write an album that made me want to dance, make me forget about any concerns going on in the world during COVID and I was escaping into my imagination. I was writing lyrics that were chirpy, made me smile and laugh," Twain said.
'Liberated in many ways'
During the opening scenes of "Shania Twain: Not Just A Girl" Twain narrates how important self-reliance is to her while scenes play of her driving a convertible on a country road. This is an example of her determination for creative control following the failure of her 1993 self-titled debut album, which features her on the cover standing in the snow next to a wolf. She had no control over her image, artistic direction of her music videos and didn't write any of the songs on the album.
"It was just not me, it's not what I wanted to say, not how I wanted to say it and the melodies weren't there. There wasn't enough originality," Twain said. "I had my own style of writing that I knew was me, and wanted to pursue that."
The sound Twain wanted was inspired by the country music she sang in the bars of Ontario during her childhood blended with the rock music of her teens. Lange, who produced bands such as AC/DC, Def Leppard and Foreigner, played a significant role in shaping the sound of the album.
"I wasn't sure that it would crossover, to be honest," Twain said. "I went through many years of doing live rock music, so it was natural for me to think it wouldn't get accepted in country music at all. But there was a lot in there that I would consider very authentic country. The songwriting was very country oriented, and from my true country self."
Twain said she feels “very creative and free” following the release of the album, and has enjoyed spending time in the sewing room working on costumes for the tour.
“I feel liberated in many ways and grateful that I’ve got all this ahead of me,” Twain said. “I’ve got so many options because I wrote a ton of music during COVID-19, and I have at least another two albums. I’m exploring a lot of creative things, and I don’t know where it will take me, but I think it will take me somewhere just being involved again.”
Desert Sun reporter Brian Blueskye covers arts and entertainment. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @bblueskye.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Shania Twain is living her 'best life' ahead of Acrisure Arena show