Like Garth Brooks, Shania Twain was massive in the 1990s and then — surprise — took a break. A long break.
Like Garth, Twain staged a comeback in the ’10s by performing a residency in Las Vegas and then recently returning to the road, with concerts set for Target Center on Tuesday and another on Sept. 26.
His hiatus was to raise his three daughters. Hers is harder to explain.
Twain, the only female artist to record three albums that each topped 10 million in U.S. sales, ran into voice problems and marital problems. Her husband/producer/co-writer cheated on her (with Twain’s best friend, no less), and single parenthood ensued until she remarried (her ex-best friend’s ex-husband, no less). We’ll leave the discussion of the drama — it’s a bit old news — to TMZ.
As for her voice issues, Twain suffered from dysphonia, a disorder, sometimes induced by stress (see aforementioned drama), in which the vocal cords seize up when one is trying to speak or sing. She needed therapy to find her voice again, which was chronicled on her docu-series “Why Not? With Shania Twain” on Oprah’s OWN network a few years ago.
“It was a lot of work, a lot of physiotherapy and vocal therapy,” Twain said in a recent phone interview. “Persistence, determination, because like any physiotherapy, it’s hard, it’s tedious, it’s repetitive, it’s boring, it’s painful a lot of the time — very similar to how an athlete would have to go through it if they had an injury. I need an hour and a half of physical and vocal warm-up now before shows.”
After serving as a judge on “American Idol” in 2010 and publishing her sometimes unsettling memoir “From This Moment On” in 2011, Twain returned to the stage three years ago at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where Celine Dion, Elton John and Bette Midler also have done residencies. It was an elaborate, glitzy show titled “Shania: Still the One,” featuring her riding a horse onstage and gliding on a motorcycle over the stage.
“The audiences there were very close to the stage — it was one of the luxuries I enjoyed,” Twain said. “I like to see the people close up and touch the people.”
Two years of Vegas performances convinced her to figuratively declare, “Man, I feel like touring.”
“I realized that I missed going out to the public as opposed to them coming to me,” she said.
So she put together the 67-concert Rock This Country Tour for North America, a show that’s completely different from her Vegas production.
“It’s like a reunion of sorts with the fans,” she explained. “A lot has happened in the last decade in all of our lives. Music is bringing us back together and we’re going to celebrate and reminisce to all of the hits that they know. In my case, a lot of the kids I would have seen on tour years ago are going to be adults now.”
No new album yet
But the best intentions don’t always go as planned. The country/pop queen had hoped to release a new album this year — her first since 2002’s “Up,” her third consecutive blockbuster. But she’s not even close to being finished. In fact, she doesn’t anticipate performing any new tunes on the current tour. “I don’t want to bore people with songs they don’t know,” said the singer who disappeared after her 2004 hits collection.
Twain plans to write and record songs during the tour, working with various producers whom she declined to name. Rest assured one of them won’t be Mutt Lange, her ex-husband, who guided her to those three albums that sold a combined 43 million copies in just the United States.
From the road, she’ll Skype with her producers, she says, on songs whose style is hard for her to explain.
“It’s different from what I’ve done in the past. I’m writing it myself so there is no influence from outside. I’ve evolved and have different things to say and express that weren’t true about me 10 to 15 years ago. It’s been a very therapeutic process for me. I’m pouring my heart out in the music, whether it’s in the lyrics or the melodies and chord progressions.”
Her enthusiasm was palpable over the telephone. “I could just do that, write music, and be very satisfied — and I’m learning that about myself,” she proclaimed.
While Twain is vague about her next album, she’s clear about one thing: This will be her last concert tour.
“I’m going to have a lot of fun with this tour,” she said before the trek started on June 5. “I’m more relaxed in a lot of ways. I’m savoring it because it is my last tour. I’m in a farewell spirit. That will be emotional to me. I’m putting my best foot forward in every way — technologically, psychologically. It’s a bit of a bittersweet experience.”
There’s another big change coming in the life of the Canadian-born Eileen Edwards (her stepfather’s surname was Twain, and she adopted Shania, Ojibwe for “on the move,” when she moved to Nashville in 1993).
On Aug. 28, she will turn 50. It doesn’t depress her much.
“I think it’s an inspiration and a motivator to be my best,” she acknowledged. “I sort of feel if I don’t push myself and bring myself to be the best that I can be now, it’s only going to get harder after that. You’ve got to be the fittest you can be, the most educated you can be, the happiest you can be. And I feel it sets a positive, strong platform for myself to jump from. And it sets the tone for the rest of my life is how I see it.”
Twain might leave the stage behind after her Rock This Country Tour plays Toronto in October but she’s not saying “I’m outta here.”
“It’s certainly not my retirement from music,” she said without missing a beat. “I’ll be doing that until the day I die. The performance side of it, I feel, is a phase in my life. I’ve been on stage since I was 8 years old. I really put in my fair share of performance.
“I want to write more. I want to make a lot more records. I miss making records, and I haven’t made enough records in my life. I also want to write songs for other artists who are coming up and enjoy them having their moment on the stage.”