Shania Twain on tour, women in country music and Madonna inspiration
A few years ago, Shania Twain wasn’t sure if she’d ever find her voice again.
Open-throat surgery to repair her damaged vocal cords – a long-gestating result of Lyme disease she contracted in 2003 – was frightening, but necessary.
Now, the comely country-pop superstar has returned with confidence and vigor as she celebrates the release of “Queen of Me” – her first album in six years – and readies the Friday launch of her seven-month tour bearing the same name.
It’s her first tour in five years, and she’s “doing great vocally,” she says from Las Vegas, where she lives, played two successful residencies (2012 and 2019) and also spent the past month rehearsing for her impending dash around the world. “I feel like my voice is back. It’s different, but it’s strong.”
Pre-singing warmups “to get the larynx in the right position” and warm downs are mandatory, and she’s prepared to tackle a set list of more than 20 songs, including a medley of some rare fan favorites.
“I’m not not going to do the classics, but I won’t be doing all of them. Since I did the Vegas residencies (of hits), I’ll give some of those a rest and am doing this medley of songs I might not have done on stage before and I know people love them,” she says.
Twain, who was bestowed with the Equal Play Award at the recent CMT Awards, also continues to advocate for female artists and is resolute that she will continue to “straddle the line” between country and pop music and “carry on being myself.”
Women have made progress, but not in country music
In the three decades since her self-titled debut, country music has regressed in bolstering female singers, Twain feels.
“They’re not as inclusive as they were,” she says. “It’s a mystery as to why. I would change it if I could, but all I can do is support the awareness. I’m glad I’m not a new artist starting out in country as a female. It’s a hard enough road as it is.”
Twain, who is providing a platform for Kelsea Ballerini, Lindsay Ell, Mickey Guyton and other female openers on her tour, points to a CMT study from 2020 that indicated more than 80% of country music listeners want to hear more songs from women. But she, like most, is baffled about the stagnant status.
“I don’t know why it’s happening, but I notice it and miss it myself as a listener,” she says.
Crossover controversy: ‘I don’t know why it can work for one genre and not the other’
Twain’s affection for pop music is an anchor in own music. “Waking Up From Dreaming” and “Giddy Up” from “Queen of Me” are recent examples, but the five-time Grammy winner earned her popularity with the savvy marriage of electronic drum stomps and glossy production with fiddles and banjo on everlasting hits “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!,” “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” and “Any Man of Mine.”
Following the CMT Awards, where rapper Megan Thee Stallion presented Twain with the Equal Play honor and Gwen Stefani and Alanis Morissette performed their classics (“Just a Girl” and “You Oughta Know,” respectively), some social media mouthpieces attacked the show for spotlighting pop, rather than country music.
But Twain audibly shrugs at the backlash.
“It’s not new to country to have other genres joining in on live TV. And then you have so many country artists who have gone the other way. Pop has accepted guest vocals or duets with country artists. I don’t know why it can work for one genre and not the other,” she says.
Shania Twain appreciates Taylor, Adele and Madonna
Twain is an obvious fan of pop’s queens, having seen Taylor Swift’s current epic outing (“It was an awesome, beautiful show”) and giving Adele heart palpitations when the British songbird realized Twain attended one of her Vegas performances.
She also appreciates the fashion element present in Madonna’s shows and is turning that inspiration into her own explorations on this tour.
“I’ve enjoyed being in the sewing room every day,” she says, and then clarifies with a laugh. “I’m not DOING the sewing – I have my girls for that – but I’m pinning and cutting and draping. They get scared when I say, ‘Gimme the scissors!’”
Twain is proud of the live show she’s created, which she describes as “chic and sleek” with graphics “telling a visual story.”
Shania Twain sticks to a liquid diet
It is inarguable that the lovely Twain, 57, barely looks different from her breakthrough years of “The Woman in Me” and “Come On Over” nearly three decades ago. She attributes her slender form to a strict diet of mostly liquids, primarily protein shakes packed with raw greens, usually spinach or kale.
Twain says she normally eats one meal per day and doesn’t often snack, but if she needs a boost, it’s peanut butter or dark chocolate.
Also, “Never cheese on a show day because dairy creates phlegm,” she adds.
Twain presents plenty of fortitude – especially with a 76-date tour on the horizon – but she doesn’t adhere to any rigorous workout routines.
“Before tour rehearsals I was riding horses and now I’m just running around a lot,” she says. “If I feel like I’m losing too much weight, I’ll eat some more. But I need to watch it for the wardrobe because (weight) goes on fast, especially now during menopause.”
Spoken like a woman who’s found her voice.
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