South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

The ‘Queen of Country Pop,’ Shania Twain, experiences a renaissance year

Photo by Louie Banks
Shania Twain

Call 2023 the year of the renaissance of Shania Twain.

Prominently featured in the documentary series “Women Who Rock,” Twain, known as the “Queen of Country Pop,” released her sixth studio album and first in six years in February, “Queen of Me.” It promptly debuted at No. 10 on the “Billboard” magazine Top 200 albums chart, making her only the second female artist to have top 10 albums in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s.

“Resurgence of presence is a better way to put it, probably,” Twain said of her increased visibility. “I’m an empty nester. We’ve come out of COVID and I’ve had all this music building up that I’ve been writing, all the songs I’ve been building up, building up so much material. My son was anxious to get out into the world on his own. I had all this creativity built up. I’m doing as much as I ever did in my career right now. I’m just working every day and loving it. Loving it way more now than I did when I was younger.”

Part of loving her career involves touring, which is what Twain will do for much of this year. When Twain sat down for this video interview, she was getting ready for the “Queen of Me” tour in a massive Las Vegas rehearsal room. That tour includes a show in St. Louis Sunday, June 4 at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Maryland Heights. Artist Breland opens for Twain in St. Louis.

She’s performing a mix of songs from “Queen of Me,” some rarely performed deep cuts and the hits like “Up,” “You’re Still the One” and the smash “Man, I Feel Like a Woman,” songs from the ‘90s that made her an international superstar.

Many of those songs have been rearranged vocally for Twain’s first performances following her 2018 open-throat surgery to repair her voice, which was damaged by the effects of dysphonia that resulted after she contracted Lyme disease in 2003.

“I change certain ways that I sing things,” she said. “For example, if I would have normally sung something in a falsetto, now I sing it in a power note. It’s all about voice placement. I can sing lower in some cases than I used to, which is cool. I’ve got more power.”

A few of the songs she’s doing on tour come from “The Woman in Me,” her 1995 second album that forever changed country music. Like Garth Brooks before her, Twain combined country with pop, rock and some modern production to create a string of genre-smashing hits.

Twain and producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, whom she later married, didn’t realize they’d made an album that would shake up country music when they left the studio.

“We just made the record that seemed right for Shania Twain. So it was legitimate. It was original, but I didn’t think it was going to get resisted by radio so much as it did in the beginning,” Twain said. “I guess what I’m saying is I didn’t realize that it didn’t belong, really, anywhere, ‘til they told me it didn’t.”

In fact, Mercury Records executives informed Twain the album had only one possible single, and it wasn’t “Any Man of Mine,” the song that she and Lange wanted to be the first to hit radio.

“I’m like, Okay, fine. If you’re not going to put out ‘Any Man of Mine’ first, go with ‘Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,’” Twain said. “I think the country fan will love this song. And then they’re going to want to hear what else I’ve got. Then we’re going with ‘Any Man of Mine.’ Everybody agreed with that. And oh boy, when ‘Any Man of Mine’ came out, the fans just took over.”

Much to the surprise of the executives and country radio programmers “Any Man of Mine” shot to No. 1 on the country charts and crossed over into the Top 40.

The genre-busting songs from “The Woman in Me” started five years in which Twain became a global superstar, selling millions of albums and playing sold-out shows around the world.

Twain’s now cited as an influence by the likes of Carrie Underwood, (“she paved the way for a lot of us”), Taylor Swift (who credits her pop crossover to Twain), Orville Peck, Kasey Musgraves, Harry Styles and Kelsea Ballerini, who takes the stage to Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” at her shows.

The Twain acolytes aren’t simply following Twain because of her crossover success. They admire her for outspokenness on issues of equality, bringing an honest female sexuality into music and, most importantly, the hard-earned independence that has driven her throughout her career.

“I think you’ve just got to be very, very honest with yourself to be your own leader, and not follow anyone else,” Twain said. “No one is interested in having two of any one thing. It may be more challenging, but I’m inspired by the challenge.

“If you fast forward to now. I’m just having fun with all the success I already had, that I already created, that I worked so hard for. I’m enjoying it now. I’m enjoying the fans,” she said. “I’m not looking for approval from anyone other than the fans, if I’m being purely honest, you know what I’m saying? I just want to give them a great show and enjoy myself creating that show.”

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