Shania Twain’s life could make a hell of a country music song.
In fact, there’s so much material it could make several great country music songs. She survived a tough childhood, lost her parents in a car crash and at the height of her career, was diagnosed with Lyme Disease – an illness that temporarily caused her to lose her voice. And then, in the middle of her recovery, her husband left her for another woman.
But Twain says those hardships have brought her to where she is today.
“Every time something brings me down or tries to bring me down, it fuels more determination. I’m feeling stronger than ever now in my life. And, and it feels good,” Twain told CNN’s Chris Wallace in a conversation for his new show, “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?”
The program debuts Friday on HBOMax and also airs Sunday night on CNN.
Twain is currently working on her sixth full-length solo project, her first solo album since 2017. Her first single from the album, “Waking Up Dreaming” also debuts Friday.
She calls her new music “just the start” of a “new chapter”.
“It is a long way from country,” she admitted of the song. “It’s high-energy boppy-poppy. In the video, I’m very much playing superstar, I am dressing up. And having a lot of fun with fashion and looks like never before. It’s indulgent for me.”
It’s far from the first time that the Grammy-winning artist has taken risks with her songs and music videos.
The music video for “Any Man of Mine” off her second album in which Twain bares her midriff attracted a lot of attention from both fans and critics. While the album was the bestselling country album that year and won a Grammy, purists said her music wasn’t country enough.
“[They said] I’m a lap dancer. No, you can’t show your midriff. You’re gonna offend everyone, you’re gonna offend the women because they’re going to be turned off by you and going to turn off the men because you have this attitude toward men,” she recalled industry executives telling her. “But I just had to ignore that and go with my own my own vision. Trust in that.”
Her trust in her own vision has led to 18 Grammy nominations and earned her the title of one of the best-selling artists of all time.
“I had a really giant dream. From a very small child. I don’t know if I would have ever been satisfied not going for that dream,” she told Wallace.
For seven years I thought ‘my career is over’
Twain’s ‘giant’ dream was almost crushed in 2004 when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, in which she developed dysphonia, a vocal-cord disorder that makes speech, let alone singing, difficult.
“It was an unreasonable amount of work and pressure to sustain as a recording artist any longer. So I could do a little one off things, but with so much work behind it, I thought, no, I could never be a genuine recording artist anymore. And get out there and sing it live,” she said.
Twain eventually had surgery. While the operation was a risk, the singer said it was something she had to try.
“I would have had to stop my singing career, so I’m like, ‘Oh, of course, I’ll try this.’ And boy, can I yell now,” she said.
Amid dealing with her vocal troubles, Twain found out her husband at the time, had been having an affair with her best friend.
“[There were] definitely moments when I wanted to picked up and plunked somewhere on another planet,” she told Wallace. “Music was always my great escape but because I couldn’t sing during that time, I didn’t have an escape anymore.”
In a twist, she eventually married Frédéric Thiébaud, the ex-husband of the woman her first husband had been having an affair with. Twain credits Thiébaud for being important to her recovery.
“I’m getting to the bottom of how to get my voice back again and I’m feeling empowered. I’m remarried. My husband is an incredible support,” Twain said. “I’ve got an incredible son, so I’m starting to feel my life is coming back together in a very bright and sunny way.”
Will Rabbe contributed to this story.