HER catchy hits Man! I Feel Like A Woman and That Don’t Impress Me Much are wedding playlist favourites and karaoke classics.
But behind queen of country pop Shania Twain’s dazzling smile lies a chequered history peppered with heartbreak and tragedy.
In a new Netflix documentary – Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl – the 56-year-old opens up on the harrowing death of her parents, the devastating breakdown of her 14-year marriage and a health battle that left her terrified she’d never sing again.
Born Eilleen Regina Edwards in Ontario, Shania’s parents separated when she was two.
Her mum’s new partner, Jerry Twain, adopted her and her two sisters when they married, and Shania legally changed her name.
While she grew up calling Jerry her dad, she has previously spoken about her difficult childhood, claiming he would sometimes be violent towards her mum Sharon.
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“He just had issues… It was like he was two people,” she told 60 Minutes.
“I would get physically involved sometimes with my parents’ fights… I just thought that he would kill her. One of these times – he was gonna kill her.”
Shania’s music career began when she joined a cover band called Flirt after graduating from high school.
She toured and performed around Ontario, but her music career stalled in November 1987, when her mum and stepdad were killed in a car accident.
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Then 22, Shania moved home to take care of her younger siblings and supported them by earning money performing at a local holiday park.
When they moved out, Shania made a demo tape of songs which caught the eye of record labels including Mercury Nashville Records, who signed her within months.
Shania shot to fame aged 30, when her second studio album – The Woman in Me, released in 1995 – sold over 10 million copies across the world, a number which has since doubled.
Two years previously she’d met South African record producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange – 17 years her senior – who was a fan of her music and offered to pen songs for her next album.
The couple married after a whirlwind romance, and they co-wrote her iconic tracks You’re Still The One, Any Man of Mine, Man! I Feel like a Woman! And That Don’t Impress Me Much.
Shania’s 1997 album Come on Over was the second best-selling album of the 90s at 15.6million, beaten only by Metallica.
Shania and Mutt welcomed a son, Eja, in 2001.
Shocking health battle
But during her £71million-grossing Up! Tour, which spanned 113 shows between 2003 and 2004, Shania was secretly battling Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick while horse riding.
She tells in the documentary how she would feel dizzy on stage to the point where she feared she would fall off, and experienced millisecond blackouts “regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds”.
Having not yet been diagnosed, she pushed through it – but believes the condition, which can cause nerve and muscle pain, facial palsy and inflammation of the brain, contributed to her developing the voice disorder dysphonia.
While she treated it with multiple throat operations and therapy, Shania admits her voice was “never the same again”.
The five-time Grammy Award winner explains: “I thought I'd lost my voice forever. I thought that was it, [and] I would never, ever sing again.”
In 2008, Shania was devastated when Mutt suddenly announced he wanted a divorce after 14 years together.
She told Oprah she’d gone to her best friend and long-time secretary Marie-Anne Thiébaud asking if she thought her husband was “acting strange”, which Marie-Anne denied.
But Shania later discovered Mutt and Marie-Anne had been having an affair behind her back – though both claimed it wasn't true.
Speaking of the moment she found out, Shania said: "I had a total panic attack. I just told her that she was a bad person – that's all I could get out!"
In the documentary she likens the end of her marriage to her parents’ fatal car crash.
She says: 'It was like the death was the end, a permanent end to so many facets of my life. And I never got over my parents' death.
“So I'm thinking, ‘S***, I'm never going to get over this.’ Like, how do you get over that?
I never got over my parents' death. So I'm thinking, ‘S***, I'm never going to get over this'
“So all I can do is determine how I'm going to carry on from there. How am I going to crawl out of this hole that I've fallen in? Just like that, you know?”
She adds: “In that search to determine what was causing this lack of control with my voice and this change in my voice, I was facing a divorce.
“My husband leaves me for another woman. Now I'm at a whole other low. And I just don't see any point in going on with a music career.”
In a bizarre twist, Shania found love again with Marie-Anne’s ex-husband, businessman Frederic Thiébaud, in 2009, who had been her shoulder to cry on during the split.
The adoring couple married in 2011 and regularly share loved-up snaps on social media.
Shania struggled for years to produce music again without the influence of Mutt in her life.
In September 2017 she released her fifth studio album Now – 15 years after her fourth – which she called her “most personal” compilation.
Despite receiving mixed reviews, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, Canadian Albums and Top Country Albums charts and has since reached the top spot in several countries worldwide.
Speaking about recording again following her long hiatus, Shania admits just being able to listen to herself back on her writing tapes was “difficult”.
She says: “It was really more about taking independence…It was an exercise of saying, ‘Okay, look, you can't just not ever make music again because you don't have Mutt. You gotta just dive in.’
“And I was petrified, I really was. So now I said, ‘Okay listen, I'm going to not only get back into the studio without him, I'm going to write all the music alone, and just discover myself again as an individual creative,’ like I'd been all of my youth.”
Shania filmed Joss Crowley’s rock-documentary Not Just A Girl during the pandemic.
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To mark its release on Netflix on Tuesday, she dropped a new digital compilation album of the same name.
In doing so, Shania proved she still has the power to Rock This Country.
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