I thought we’d share a little country music this week, focusing on the ladies.
Today’s selection: Shania Twain
Shania Twain, OC (/ʃəˌnaɪ.ə ˈtweɪn/; born Eilleen Regina Edwards; August 28, 1965) is a Canadian country pop singer-songwriter. Her 1995 album The Woman in Me brought her fame, and her 1997 album Come On Over became the best-selling studio album of all time by a female act in any genre and the best-selling country album of all time, selling over 40 million copies worldwide. Her fourth and last studio album to date, Up!, was released in November 2002 and has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Twain has won 5 Grammy Awards and 27 BMI Songwriter awards. She has had three albums certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America and is the second best-selling artist in Canada, behind Céline Dion, with three of her studio albums certified double diamond by the Canadian Recording Industry Association. She is the first (and currently only) female artist in history to have 3 consecutive albums reach diamond status, certified by the RIAA.
Sometimes referred to as “The Queen of Country Pop”, she is one of the most commercially successful artists of all time, having sold over 80 million albums and is ranked 10th best-selling artist of the Nielsen SoundScan era. She was also ranked 72nd on Billboard’s “Artists of the decade” (2000–10). Most recently, Twain has her own TV series, Why Not? with Shania Twain, that premiered on the OWN on May 8, 2011. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 2, 2011.
1993–1994: Shania Twain
A couple of years passed and Twain’s siblings got older and moved out on their own. Twain assembled a demo tape of her songs and her Huntsville manager set up a showcase for Twain to present her material to record executives. She caught the attention of a few labels, including Mercury Nashville Records, who signed her within a few months. During this time, she changed her name to Shania, which was said to be an Ojibwa word which means “on my way”. However, Twain’s biographer, Robin Eggar, writes: “There is a continuing confusion about what ‘Shania’ means and if indeed it is an Ojibwe word or phrase at all. […] There is no mispronounced or misheard phrase in either Ojibwe or Cree that comes close to meaning ‘on my way.’ Yet the legend of her name continues to be repeated in the media to this day and will doubtless provide the obituary headline when Shania eventually passes on.”
Twain’s self-titled debut album was released in 1993 in North America and garnered her audiences outside Canada. Shortly before its release, she sang backing vocals for other Mercury artists, including Jeff Chance’s 1992 album Walk Softly on the Bridges and Sammy Kershaw’s 1993 album Haunted Heart. Shania Twain only reached No.67 on the US Country Albums Chart, but it gained positive reviews from critics. The album failed to sell significant copies initially, although Twain’s future success generated enough interest for the album to be certified platinum six years later by the RIAA, denoting sales of over a million. The album yielded two minor hit singles in the United States with “What Made You Say That” and “Dance with the One That Brought You”. The album was more successful in Europe, where Twain won Country Music Television Europe’s “Rising Video Star of the Year” award.
1995–1996: The Woman in Me and breakthrough
When rock producer Robert “Mutt” Lange heard Twain’s original songs and singing from her debut album, he offered to produce and write songs with her. After many telephone conversations, they met at Nashville’s Fan Fair in June 1993. Twain and Lange became very close within just weeks. Lange and Twain either wrote or co-wrote the songs that would form her second studio album, The Woman in Me. Record executives were stunned when they listened to the album. It was unlike anything else in country music.
The Woman in Me was released in the spring of 1995. The album’s first single, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” went to No.11 on the Billboard Country Chart. This was followed by her first Top 10 and No.1 hit single, “Any Man of Mine”. Twain had further hits from the album, including the title track which peaked at No.14 and three additional No.1 hits: “(If You’re Not in it for Love) I’m Outta Here!”, “You Win My Love”, and “No One Needs to Know”. As of 2007, it had sold more than 12 million copies. The album was a quick breakthrough and because of this Twain performed selected international venues and television shows including two CMA Fan Fair performances with Nashville guitarists Randy Thomas (co-writer of the song “Butterfly Kisses”), Dan Schafer, Chris Rodriguez, Russ Taff, Hugh McDonald bass player of Bon Jovi, Dave Malachowski and Stanley T., formerly with The Beach Boys.
Mercury Nashville’s promotion of the album was based largely upon a series of music videos. During this period, Twain made major television appearances on shows such as two performances on Late Show with David Letterman, Blockbuster Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. The Woman in Me won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album as well as the Academy of Country Music award for Album of the Year; the latter group also awarded Twain as Best New Female Vocalist.
1997–2001: Come On Over
In 1997, Twain released her follow-up album, Come On Over. This was the album that would establish her as a successful crossover singer. Slowly, the album started racking up sales. It never hit the top spot, but with the multi-chart hit single “You’re Still the One”, sales skyrocketed. Other songs like “Don’t Be Stupid”, “You’ve Got A Way”, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”, “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “From This Moment On” joined the 12 songs that eventually saw release as singles. “From This Moment On” is a duet with singer Bryan White and there was a pop version as well.
The album stayed on the charts for the next two years, going on to sell 40 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling album of all time by a female musician. It is also the eighth biggest-selling album by any type of artist in the US and the top selling country album in history. Songs from the album won four Grammy Awards during this time, including Best Country Song and Best Female Country Performance (for “You’re Still the One” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”) for Twain. Lange won Grammys for “You’re Still the One” and “Come on Over”.
Despite the album’s record sales it wasn’t able to top the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 2. In 1999, the Come on Over album was remixed for the European market as a pop album with less country instrumentation and actually gave her the big breakthrough in Europe she and her producer husband (Robert John “Mutt” Lange) were looking for. Come on Over went to number 1 on the UK album charts for 11 weeks. It became the biggest selling album of the year in Great Britain and a bestseller in other big European markets as well, selling more than one million copies in Germany and nearly 4 million in the UK alone. The songs that had finally drawn European attention to the album were the pop remixed singles “That Don’t Impress Me Much”, a No.3 in the UK and Top 10 hit in Germany in the summer of 1999, and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” which peaked at No.3 in both the UK and France in autumn of that year. Additionally, the album set the record for the longest ever stay in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200, remaining in the Top 20 for 99 weeks.
In 1998, Twain launched her first major concert tour, aided by her manager Jon Landau, a veteran of many large-scale tours with Bruce Springsteen. The Come on Over Tour shows was a success and won the “Country Tour of the Year” in 1998 and 1999 by Pollstar Concert Industry Awards.
In 2000, Twain was initially scheduled to release a Christmas album, but plans to release one were cancelled later in the year.
Following the success of Come On Over, independent label Limelight Records released The Complete Limelight Sessions in October 2001. The album includes 16 tracks recorded in the late 1980s before Twain signed her record deal with Mercury.