They say the ladies who sing the country songs are a breed apart. And the ladies who write the country songs, well, they're just as rare a breed, too. But the ladies who do both--ah, now there is the heart and soul of it all, the women who give country music conscience and sizzle, with a full portion of romance from the feminine perspective thrown in at no extra cost. "I love to write stories," says Shania Twain. "Songwriting is my favorite part of what I do. I like to give ever song its own personality and attitude and to sing each one in its own style."
Shania Twain is no stranger to conscience, sizzle and the woman's prerogative. Come On Over is her third album (Mercury Records), sixteen songs written by Shania with her husband and producer, Robert John "Mutt" Lange. This is Shania's first release in more than two and a half years, since the 9-times platinum phenomenon known as The Woman In Me. That album, which has also sold another 3 million copies outside the U.S., continues its record-breaking run on the Billboard Country Albums chart; 140-plus weeks (and counting) as of the November 1997 release of Come On Over.
For her achievements, Shania earned Billboard honors as 1996's #1 Top Country Album Artist. Her Grammy award for Best Country Album was echoed by the Academy of Country Music and her native Canadian Country Music Awards (both Album of the year); and she was variously named Favorite New Country Artist or Favorite Female Country Artist by the American Music Awards, Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Canada's JUNO Awards, World Music Awards, and so on. Her videos earned similar awards from CMT (Country Music Television, U.S. and European outlets), ABC Radio Networks and others. One of the most telegenically accessible figures on the planet, her promo video clips were compiled on The Complete Woman In Me Video Collection.
At the same time, Shania has been profiled in numerous magazines, performed at more awards shows than you can count, appeared on many television specials, and much more. On September 24, 1997, viewers of the CMA Awards were treated to a performance of "Love Gets Me Every Time," the first single from Come On Over.
Shania's story may well be the great American dream, that is, the great North American dream, since she was born in Canada on August 28, 1965, the second oldest of five siblings. Shania was raised in Timmins, Ontario (about 500 miles due north of Toronto), where her stepfather, an Ojibway Indian, and mother had both been raised. It was a proud but at times, impoverished existence. There may have been a struggle to keep enough food in the cupboards, but there was always an abundance of music in the household.
Shania often grabbed a guitar and retreated to the solitude of her bedroom, singing and writing until her fingers ached. "But I loved it! I grew up listening to Waylon, Willie, Dolly, Tammy, all of them," she recalls. "But we also listened to the Mamas and the Papas, the Carpenters, the Supremes and Stevie Wonder. The many different styles of music I was exposed to as a child not only influenced by vocal style, but even more so, my writing style." Mom noticed her daughter's talents, and Shania was soon being shuttled to radio and TV studios, community centers, senior citizens' homes, "everywhere they could get me booked."
Part of the legend has 8-year-old Shania being dragged out of bed at midnight to sing with the house band at a local club after the nightly liquor curfew went into effect. Later, she spent summers working with her father as the foreman of a dozen-man reforestation crew in the Canadian bush, where she learned to wield an axe and handle a chain saw as well as any man. In the winter season, she would sing in clubs and do television and radio performances as often as her schooling would allow.
At age 21, Shania lost her parents in an auto wreck. She then took on the task of handling her parents' affairs as executrix and the responsibility of bring her three younger siblings to live with her. She managed to keep the household going with a job at Ontario's Deerhurst Resort, which not only provided for her new family responsibilities, but also gave her an education in every aspect of theatrical performance, from musical comedy to Andrew Lloyd Webber to Gershwin, an experience quite different from the bar gigs she grew up doing. After a couple of years the kids came into their own, lightening the load of her responsibilities. It was 1990, and she was on her own. Shedding her real name, Eilleen, she adopted the Ojibway name of Shania, pronounced shu-NYE-uh, meaning "I'm
on my way." Shania's way resulted in a demo tape of original music and a road map to Nashville.
At age 21, Shania lost her parents in an auto wreck. She then took on the task of handling her parents' affairs as executrix and the responsibility of bring her three younger siblings to live with her. She managed to keep the household going with a job at Ontario's Deerhurst Resort, which not only provided for her new family responsibilities, but also gave her an education in every aspect of theatrical performance, from musical comedy to Andrew Lloyd Webber to Gershwin, an experience quite different from the bar gigs she grew up doing. After a couple of years the kids came into their own, lightening the load of her responsibilities. It was 1990, and she was on her own. Shedding her real name, Eilleen, she adopted the Ojibway name of Shania, pronounced shu-NYE-uh, meaning "I'm on my way." Shania's way resulted in a demo tape of original music and a road map to Nashville.
Although Shania was signed on the basis of her original material, her self-titled debut album of 1993 featured only one of her songs, the feisty "God Ain't Gonna Getcha For That." It took a phone call from a distant admirer, rock producer Mutt Lange (AD/DC, Cars, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Bryan Adams and many more) for Shania to find a true believer, both in her voice and her original songs.
Shania and Mutt met face to face in 1993 and were wed in December, by which time they'd written half an album's worth of tunes together. As the following year unfolded, they traveled (and wrote) their way across the U.S., Canada, England, Spain, Italy and the Caribbean. They began to lay down basic tracks for the new album in Nashville, later recording overdubs and mixing in Quebec.
The first results of the labor, "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" entered the Billboard Country Singles chart in January 1995; The Woman In Me debuted on the Country Albums chart the following month. The single rose to No. 11, and The Woman In Me was certified RIAA gold. Its flip side, "Any Man of Mine," hit the charts in May and became the first of four consecutive number ones for Shania, every one of which spent the requisite 20 weeks on the list, including "(If You're Not In It For Love) I'm Outta Here!," "You Win My Love," and "No One Needs To Know."
Two more singles were released in late 1996, "Home Ain't Where His Heart Is (Anymore)" and the lullaby-hymn "God Bless The Child," with proceeds donated to Kids Cafe/Second Harvest Food Bank in the U.S. and the Canadian Living Foundation which provides meals for underprivileged children there. Altogether, Shania's run on the singles chart spanned well over 100 weeks, an amazing achievement for one album with no touring.