Shania Twain is one of the most successful crossover artists of our time. Her passion for music was evident from a young age and though she faced many setbacks and challenges over the years, there was no stopping her from rising to the top. Here are 50 swinging facts about the Queen of Country Pop that are bound to impress you much!
Shania Twain Facts
1. Born Still
The doctor who delivered baby Shania Twain almost pronounced her dead. Her skin was blue and she wasn’t crying. Luckily, as the doc was handing Twain's mother a lit cigarette and wondering how to break the bad news, it became evident that the blue baby girl was very much alive. Talk about a dramatic entrance into the world.
2. Father Who?
Twain was born Eilleen Regina Edwards in Windsor, Ontario in 1965. But from the get go, she entered a dark life. Her parents, Sharon (née Morrison) and Clarence Edwards, got divorced when she was only two. Twain did not meet her biological father while growing up and never acknowledged him publicly because she had “never known him” and he had never been around.
3. A Twist in the Tale
Edwards, on the other hand, denies being absent from his daughters’ lives. According to him, he tried to stay in touch with Shania Twain and her sisters. He claimed to feel her disregard for him keenly and said he only divorced her mom because she was overly possessive. But that wasn't the worst part. In Clarence's version of event, Twain's mother had also been having an affair while they were married.
4. Modern Family
After her rocky first marriage ended, Sharon moved with her three daughters to Timmins, Ontario and found love. She married an Ojibwa man named Jerry Twain who adopted the girls and became the father they knew for the rest of their lives. Jerry and Sharon had another son, Mark, and adopted Jerry’s baby nephew, Darryl, after his mother died.
5. Father Figure
Twain considers herself half Indigenous, and not just because her last name changed when she was adopted. Her stepfather's tribe legally accepted her and she spent her childhood visiting the Matagami Reserve on weekends, learning to track rabbits with her grandfather. She also describes how she was raised by her dad—a “full-blooded Indian.” To this day, she is an official member of the Temagami First Nation.
6. It’s Dark in Here
Unfortunately, Twain’s childhood was anything but idyllic. Her dad, Jerry, was an alcoholic, abusive man, and the family struggled to make ends meet. Twain was deeply affected by Jerry’s treatment of her mom. She has nightmarish memories of violent nights where she would hear her parents screaming and try to stop Jerry from hitting her mother.
7. An Episode of Violence
One particularly harrowing incident Twain mentions in her book is of Jerry repeatedly plunging Sharon’s face in the toilet after hitting her. Only 11 at the time, Twain rushed to save her mother by hitting Jerry with a chair. He retaliated by punching her, and she punched him back. She says, “Anger started to take over from all the other emotions that I would feel.”
8. A Brief Escape
After putting up with horrific abuse for years, Twain finally convinced her mother to make a run for it. Sharon fled Timmins and brought her kids to a homeless shelter in Toronto, which Twain remembers as a “crowded, sweltering place.” After a brutal time in the shelter system, they went back to Timmins and to Jerry Twain in 1981. They had been gone for just over a year.
9. Jekyll and Hyde
Despite all that she and her family suffered at the hands of her father, Twain says that she had still loved Jerry deeply. She described how “He took us children in as his own. He worked hard for us, he took care of us the best he could.” She said that she had learned to take the bad with the good, and as a child she had tried to focus on the good.
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10. Oh Mother
While Twain’s biological and adoptive fathers made her childhood unbearably difficult, it was her mother’s depression and isolationism that saddened and upset her the most. She often thought of seeking help and going to Children’s Aid, but she never did because she was too scared that her family would be split up. She wrote, “I just couldn’t bear that, so we all stayed together for better or for worse.”
11. The Write Distraction
Twain started writing songs from a very young age for a heartbreaking reason: Escape. She found solace from the everyday tensions of violence and hunger through music and lyrics. She discovered that song-writing was a great distraction for when she felt hunger pangs and didn’t have any food to ease them otherwise.
12. Mama’s Song
Twain wrote her first song at the tender age of ten. She wrote it for her mother, and it was titled “Mama Won’t You Come Out to Play?” She was too young to understand it then, but as a child Twain could see that her mother was very lonely and sad most of the time. As Twain said, it was like “she didn’t have the courage to get out and face life.”
13. Singing Through the Pain
Since the family was so broke most of the time, it fell on Twain’s little eight-year-old shoulders to help make things better for them in whatever way she could. She started singing folk and country songs at different clubs on weekends, and would perform at bars late at night, when they had stopped serving alcohol. She didn’t like it very much, but it helped pay some bills.
14. Stage Shy
Although she was singing to an audience from such a young age, Twain was never very comfortable in front of people. She felt even more awkward and uncomfortable when she hit her teens and her body started changing. She used to love playing sports, but started feeling too self-conscious to run around on the field anymore.
15. It’s Just Water
Twain's stage fright was so extreme that once, when she was much older and performing on stage with some backup musicians, she wet her pants. Yes, you read that right. However, she had the presence of mind to spill a glass of water at the same time, so no one realized the accident that had actually happened. Lucky for her that a glass of water was at hand at that delicate moment!
16. Fry Factor
Twain also worked at McDonalds while in high school. Fries are still her favourite junk food. We hear ya girl!
17. The Great Outdoors
As a teen, Twain worked for her dad Jerry’s reforestation business, which involved walking several miles and carrying heavy branches. Twain loved working outdoors although it was devoid of glamor. The only “shower” she could take was bathing in the lake, where she also had to rinse her clothes. The ruggedness of the experience was great for her creativity: “I would sit alone in the forest with my dog and a guitar and would just write songs.”
18. Musically Motivated
No one could say Twain wasn’t serious about music. In high school, she sang for a local band called Longshot and covered the top songs of the time. She toured Ontario with another band, Flirt, and even missed her high school prom because of her intense schedule. She also took singing lessons from a Toronto-based voice coach, Ian Garrett. Because she couldn't afford to pay, Twain would perform a heartbreaking gesture: She would clean his house sometimes.
19. Music Mentors
The first few people who noticed Twain’s talent were DJ Stan Campbell who got her some gigs as a backup vocalist and Ontario country singer, Mary Bailey who became her manager and took her to Nashville. Bailey introduced Twain to conductor John Kim Bell. The two began a secret relationship, and after a little while, Bell arranged for her to sing in a fundraiser for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in 1987.
20. Girls Just Wanna Rock
At first, Twain wanted to be a rock star, instead of a country singer. That doesn't sound like a huge deal, but it had enormous consequences. Twain's preference for rock led to a falling out between her and Mary Bailey. However, after Twain's incredible performance at the Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, everything changed. Bell felt Twain's strength lay in Country and asked her to focus on that. She listened, and country music was forever changed.
21. Tragedy Strikes
Sadly, just when it looked like Twain might be on the verge of a breakthrough, she received devastating news. Her parents had been in a car accident and the worst had happened: they were both killed instantly. Heartbroken, Twain immediately went back to Timmins in November 1987. She knew she had to take of her siblings. With them in tow, the devastated family moved to Huntsville, Ontario.
22. Rising to the Occasion
Twain revealed that she had a strange premonition a few months before the accident. She had dreamed that her mother had asked her to “take care of things.” She certainly fulfilled that request by supporting her siblings until they were ready to leave home. With Bailey’s help, she got a job performing at Deerhurst Resort and stayed there until her youngest brother graduated from high school.
23. Finding the Positives
Although the time after her parents passed away was extremely difficult, Twain also felt she was able to make the most out of it. She realized that her music career was non-existent, and her friends had moved on without her, so essentially, she didn’t have anything. However, it helped her focus on what she wanted. Because of this, she made the next 20 years of her life incredibly productive.
24. A Break and a Name Change
Bailey helped Twain get her first break after her siblings had gotten older and moved out of their big sister's place. It ended in Twain signing with Mercury Nashville Records, who also convinced her to change her name. Eilleen Twain didn’t flow too well, but “Shania” Twain had a certain ring to it. But few people realize that "Shania" has a deeper meaning: in Ojibwe, the name means “she’s on her way.” And she certainly was!
25. Shania Twain
Shania's self-titled first album did reasonably well and came in at No. 67 on the Billboard Country Chart. But the best part was that two of the songs caught the attention of some very important people: the actor Sean Penn and the legendary producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange.
26. Penn Pal
Penn not only directed the music video for Twain’s song, “Dance With the One that Brought You,” he also gave her $100 to help the struggling songwriter get through the hard times. Twain’s album hadn’t really taken off by then and she needed the money, so she took it. Years later, she admits the truth: she was “embarrassed to receive a handout like that.”
27. Bare Devil?
When Country Music Television saw the video for Twain’s first single, “What Made You Say That,” they gasped. The country singer dared to show her bare midriff!
28. Game Changer
Shania Twain's first album truly changed her life by introducing her to Mutt Lange, the legendary rock producer. Over his long and storied career, Lange had worked for the likes of AC/DC and Deff Leppard, so when Lange called Shania Twain himself, she was completely blow away. When he suggested a songwriting collaboration, she couldn't believe her ears. Little did she know, that was just the beginning of an incredibly important relationship for them both.
29. I Do
Shortly after Twain and Lange met up to work on some music in 1993, their professional relationship blossomed into a whirlwind romance. After six passionate months, Twain and Lange tied the knot in December 1993. The ceremony took place in Deerhurst, Ontario and the couple went back to work soon after. Twain says they’re both workaholics, which is how they were able to release The Woman in Me in February, 1995. The album was a huge success.
30. Finding Love
After years of struggle and trying to make ends meet, Twain found huge success with The Woman in Me. She started performing at international shows, making appearances on TV, and even won a Grammy. Twain was riding the highest of highs...but the lows would come, and they would be utterly brutal.
31. More Success
Twain’s subsequent album Come on Over, also made with producer-husband, Lange, was an even bigger success. It got her four more Grammys and sold over 40 million copies—making it the “biggest selling album of all time by a female musician.” The album also have Twain such a big breakthrough in Europe that she started planning her first international tour. Go Twain!
32. From This Moment On
In 2001, Twain's entire life changed. She had her first child, a son named Eja, and decided to step away from her career for a moment. Twain wanted to focus on raising her baby without all the cameras and pressures of fame, so she and Lange moved to a Swiss chateau to lead a quieter life. Eja’s first language is French because Twain was determined for him to be completely bilingual.
33. Up and Away
Twain and Lange returned to the studio a year after Eja’s birth. The resulting record might have not been as hugely successful its predecessor, but Up still did extremely well and was a smash hit in Europe. Twain followed this with a collection of her Greatest Hits and released some singles afterwards. Her duet with Anne Murray in 2007 became the last song that she and Lange ever worked on together for a heartbreaking reason.
34. It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing
It turned out that Lange had been betraying Twain for years. He was having an affair and not with just anyone: He was seeing Twain's best friend, Marie-Anne. Twain knew that things were not hunky dory for a while, but when she confided in Marie-Anne the latter scoffed at her and told her she was being “delusional.” Naturally, Twain was shattered at the betrayal.
35. Is There Life After Love?
In an autobiography called From This Moment On, Twain confided that she had been in an incredibly bad place after she and Lange separated. At her darkest moments, she even wanted to die. What kept her afloat was her love for Eja and the memories of her traumatic past. She wrote, “When my parents died, I experienced a much deeper grief…I survived that and I don’t want to give this so much credit.”
36. Paying it Forward
Twain's memories of the disturbing childhood she shared with her siblings led her to start her own organization called “Shania Can” in 2010. Her aim was to help children who came from low income backgrounds. The organization provides schools with nutritional supplies and recreational equipment for such kids and helps them get access to music lessons.
37. Finding the “One”
Happily, Twain found love again, from a very unexpected and scandalous person: Marie-Anne’s husband, Frederic Thiebaud. It was he who had discovered the affair between Lange and Marie-Anne and told Twain the truth. They fell in love as they bonded over their mutual heartbreak and got married in 2011. He is “still the one” for Twain who says he is extremely romantic and is always doing things like decorating her plate with flowers.
38. Family First
Although Twain is very happy with Frederic, and feels she has a deeper, more passionate connection to him, she would “never choose for (her) son’s family to be broken.” She strongly believes that families should stay together, and she could have stayed with Lange just so that Eja could have both parents around at the same time.
39. It Ain’t Over Yet
As if she hadn’t been through a lot already, another calamity hit Twain when she made a terribly discovery: she was having trouble singing after her divorce. At first, she thought it might be psychological, because of all the stress she had been through. The cause for her vocal cord paralysis turned out to be something scarier though: Lyme disease.
40. Tick Terror
Twain feels she was lucky though, because the effects of Lyme disease can be much more serious than merely losing one's voice. After a laryngoplasty and several years of physical therapy and lengthy vocal warmups she eventually started singing again. She said, “I was very scared for a while that I wouldn’t sing again, ever.” Thank goodness she came through.
41. Clean and Green
How does Twain maintain her good looks and trim figure? Well, it could be because of what she puts in her body. Twain has been a vegetarian for years. She eats a clean, healthy diet of mostly leafy greens, nuts, and unprocessed food, and tries to avoid carbs. She would never however, preach vegetarianism to anyone because it’s a “personal choice.”
42. Now This
Twain’s first album after her divorce was Now, which is, fair enough, deeply personal. She says that the first cut of the album would shock her fans. Originally, the songs were so "vitriolic" that in the end, they couldn't go on the album. Twain really pared down her feelings before releasing her new music to the world. As someone who lives for angry ballads, I would love to hear the first version too.
43. What’s in a Name
Twain’s current and former husband both had interesting nicknames for her. Lange used to call her “Woody” because of a hairstyle she once wore which reminded him of a cartoon woodpecker. Thiebaud has a nicer name for her though: He calls her “Sunshine.” Yeah, based on this alone, I think Shania ended up with the right guy.
44. Horsing Around
Twain has a deep love for horses. She discovered it when she was 12 and her friend let her ride her mare. Her favorite place to listen to music is in a horse barn. But horses aren’t her only favorite animals though. Twain also loves dogs. She feels like they are family and she has two so that they don’t get lonely when she has to travel for work.
45. Personally Political?
Twain can’t vote in the United States, but if she could have, she’s clear that her vote would have been for Trump. She agrees that some of the issues he’s been involved in are controversial, but at the end of the day she’s happy that he’s a straight talker and doesn’t beat around the bush like other career politicians. That said, Twain apologized for her comments after some of her fans voiced their displeasure.
46. Blast from the Past
Twain’s favorite memory is from when she was 12 or 13 and didn’t have proper winter clothes to wear at school. She asked her music teacher if she could stay indoors to practice, and he never let on that he realized why she wanted to stay indoors and made it seem like it was an extra-curricular thing. She remembers the teacher and music room fondly: “It was like a refuge.”
47. Reality TV Star
Twain starred in a reality show in 2011, titled Why Not? With Shania Twain. It aired on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network and focused on the chanteuse's new life after her heartbreaking divorce. The series also highlighted Twain's struggle to get back into music and singing after her painful vocal issues. After some heartbreaking episodes, the show had a happy ending with Twain singing in the finale and getting married to Thiebaud in Puerto Rico.
48. Chip off the Old Block?
Another Twain might be crooning for us soon! Twain's son Eja has dreams to pursue music as a career, and his mom is supportive. She says, “He’s very devoted and a real hard worker” and she’s enjoying his passion to discover his own voice. Eja is not interested in performing, which is a relief for Twain. “It’s just really taxing being a performer…unless that’s what he really wants…I think it will suit him to be the creator.”
49. The Story Behind That Brad Pitt Lyric
In the song "That Don't Impress Me Much," Twain quips, "So you're Brad Pitt? That don't impress me much." It's an amazing moment in country music, but few people know the weird story behind the lyrics. Back in the 1990s, a tabloid released photos of Brad Pitt and his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow on vacation. It sounds like business as usual, until you learn that Pitt was completely nude in the pics.
For ages, listeners thought Twain's lyric was throwing shade at Pitt's private parts, but she recently clarified that the lyric was meant to criticize the way the media went so wild for the pictures of a naked actor. As Twain says, "What is all the fuss? We see people naked every day."
50. From Bad to Worse
Sadly, Jerry wasn't just harmful to Shania Twain's mother. Though Twain revealed that Jerry harmed her physically and psychologically, she only admitted that he was sexually abusive towards young Twain in a haunting 2018 interview.