Monday, January 20, 2014

Shania Twain, The #40 Female Artist of the Rock Era

Eileen Edwards was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Her parents divorced when she was two and she moved with her mother to Timmins, Ontario, where her mother met and married Jerry Twain.  Jerry adopted both Eileen and her sister.

Eileen began singing in bars at the age of eight to help the family make ends meet, and she wrote her first songs at age 10.  When she was 13, Twain was invited to perform on The Tommy Hunter Show on CBC.  She attended Timmins High and Vocational School, and joined the band Longshot. 

After graduating in 1983, Twain joined a cover band called Flirt, which toured Ontario.  She also began taking singing lessons from a Toronto coach about this time.  Twain sang backing vocals on the album Heavy on the Sunshine by Tim Denis, and was noticed by Toronto DJ Stan Campbell.  Campbell later took Twain to Nashville, Tennessee to record some demos.  While in Nashville, Twain met country singer Mary Bailey, who was impressed with her.  

Twain signed a management contract with Bailey and moved into her home on Kenogami Lake, Ontario.  Twain soon formed a new band, moving to Bowmanville, near Toronto.  Bailey arranged for Twain to meet conductor Kim Bell, who had close contacts with directors of the Canadian Country Music Association.  But Twain was unhappy, wanting instead to be a pop singer rather than sing country.  

In 1987, tragedy struck.  Twain's mother and stepfather died in a car accident and she took her younger siblings and moved with them to Huntsville, Ontario.  Twain supported the family by performing at the Deerhurst Resort.  

Two years later, Twain recorded another demo tape and she presented it to record executives.  Twain eventually signed with Mercury Nashville Records and changed her name to Shania.        

Twain released her self-titled debut album in 1993.  While it did not sell under later in her career, the album received good reviews.

Producer Robert "Mutt" Lange had heard Twain's music and offered to write songs with her and produce her albums.  The two became very close very quickly, and they wrote or co-wrote all the songs for the album The Woman in Me, which was released in 1995.  The album spawned four songs that were #1 on the Country chart ("Any Man Of Mine", "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta' Here", "You Win My Love" and "No One Needs To Know"), but success was limited to that genre.  

To promote the album, Shania appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and several of the main music awards shows.  Twain won the Grammy for Best Country Album, but was not nominated for any popular awards.  She also won Billboard Music Awards for Female Country Artist of the Year and Country Album of the Year and captured a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite New Country Artist. 

Twain won BMI Pop Songwriter Awards for "Any Man of Mine" and "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?", and was nominated for Favorite New Country Artist at the American Music Awards.

In 1997, Shania released the album Come On Over.  She collected another #1 Country song ("Love Gets Me Every Time"), and another that was a Top 10 Country hit, before releasing the single "You're Still The One" in 1998.  The single finally got Twain attention outside the country market, reaching #2 in the United States and Top 10 in most major countries.  Shania also won Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance, a Blockbuster Award for Favorite Single, and she was nominated for Female Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

After "You're Still The One" became a hit, all of a sudden, the album began to sell in large numbers.  Funny how that works, huh?  Twain released a second crossover song, "From This Moment On", and it shot up to #2 in Australia, #4 in the U.S., #7 in New Zealand and #9 in the U.K.

Both of these singles became huge songs at weddings in 1998.  "Honey, I'm Home" was released as a single to pacify the Country crowd (a #1 Country song), and then Twain continued the momentum of the album with the single "That Don't Impress Me Much".  It became her biggest international hit, peaking at #1 in New Zealand and Norway, #2 in the Netherlands, #3 in the U.K., #5 in her native Canada, #7 in the U.S. and #8 in Germany.

Twain captured Billboard Music Awards for Female Artist of the Year and Hot 100 Singles Female Artist, and she was nominated for a Blockbuster Award for Favorite Album.  Shania released the single "Man!  I Feel Like A Woman".  It too soared to #1 in New Zealand and it reached #3 in the U.K. and #4 in Australia, and earned Twain another Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

The album was remixed as a pop album in Europe, toning down the country instrumentation.  As a result, it went to #1 in the U.K. for 11 weeks and became the biggest seller of the year.  Come On Over sold four million in the U.K. and one million in Germany.  The album remained in the Top 20 in the United States for 99 weeks.  Because of these hits, Come On Over is the best-selling studio album of all-time by a female, selling over 40 million copies worldwide. 

Twain cleaned up at the BMI Pop Awards, winning not only Pop Songwriter of the Year but Song of the Year (for "You're Still The One") and taking additional awards for "You're Still The One", "From This Moment On" and "Love Gets Me Every Time".

Twain began her first major concert tour that was named Country Tour of the Year in 1998 and 1999 by Pollstar.  Shania was named the 1999 Entertainer of the Year by both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.  Shania was named both Favorite Female Pop/Rock Artist and Favorite Female Country Artist (a tough double win to pull off) at the American Music Awards, and she captured Favorite Female Country Artist at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards and Favorite Female Musical Performer at the People's Choice Awards. 

Twain again scored BMI Pop Awards, winning Pop Songwriter of the Year, and getting airplay citations for "You're Still The One", "From This Moment On", "Man!  I Feel Like a Woman!", "You've Got A Way" and "That' Don't Impress Me Much".

After a two-year break, Twain released the album Up! in 2002.  It debuted at #1 on the Album chart, selling 874,000 copies its first week, and remained in the top 10 for five weeks.  

Unfortunately, the initial enthusiasm by fans resulted in just one big hit, "Forever And For Always", at #6 in the U.K. and #20 in the United States.  

  Another popular song from the album is "I'm Gonna' Getcha' Good".

Twain won BMI Pop Awards for "Forever And for Always" and "I'm Gonna' Getcha' Good!".  Shania performed at halftime of Super Bowl XXXVII in January of 2003.  In 2004, she released her Greatest Hits package, and it won Album of the Year at the Billboard Music Awards.

In 2005, she was made an Officer in the Order of Canada.  Shania received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.  The city of Timmins, Ontario, renamed a street for her, gave her the key to the city, and built the Shania Twain Centre.  Twain has not scored a Top 20 hit since the album Up, and, while she has just nine career Top 40 hits and just three Top 10's, she places high because of her huge album sales.

Twain has sold over 80 million albums worldwide and won five Grammy Awards.  

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