Shania says she's penned 'quite a few' new songs
Canadian singer Shania Twain appears on Canada AM to promote her autobiography, 'From the Moment On', Monday, May 9, 2011.
Nick Patch, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, May 11, 2011 10:53AM EDT
TORONTO - Shania Twain says she lost her singing voice amid the anguish over her divorce from longtime husband and collaborator Mutt Lange, but is beginning to recover now and plans to head back into the studio this summer to record new material.
The country-pop superstar from Timmins, Ont., says she has written "quite a few" new songs, adding that one track is already finished and will be released sooner than the rest of the material.
But Twain -- whose three-album songwriting partnership with the hit-making producer Lange yielded her biggest hits, including "You're Still the One," "Any Man of Mine" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" -- says the fresh songs could wind up sounding quite different from her existing catalogue.
"I think it could be, because I am going to experiment," a friendly Twain said during an interview Tuesday at a posh Toronto hotel.
"But I'm excited. I'm not afraid of that, because I don't have any expectations from the public, to be honest. I'm not really looking for that.
"I would like it to be successful, (but) what does that mean? I guess I would like some people to enjoy it, to get pleasure from it," she adds, laughing.
However, the aim of penning her revealing new memoir, "From This Moment On," was much different.
First, she wanted to create a document of her life for her nine-year-old son, Eja, in case anything ever happened to her.
Secondly, the notoriously private Twain -- who has led an almost hermetic life in Switzerland in recent years, in part to avoid relentless media attention -- also just thought it was time she opened up, for her own sake and for the sake of fans who might find inspiration in her painful journey.
"I asked myself: 'OK, I don't like where my life is, I don't like what's going on, I'm not happy here, I'm not happy there. What am I going to do about it?"' recalled Twain, clad in a loose-fitting tan sweater, capri pants and eye-catching blue earrings.
"I decided to not only write the book ... but it was sharing it, and deciding to share it, and now going through the process of sharing it that's such a big part of my own therapy."
"The private Shania that everybody knows in public is the same Shania in my personal life, to the point where there will be a lot of people that have known me my whole life who will learn things about me in my autobiography that they never knew."
"I was way too extremely uncommunicative and had blocked self-expression for just my whole life, really. And it manifested itself. It just really did. It literally choked my voice."
In resisting her tendency toward silence, Twain made sure her book examined each excruciating heartbreak that the 45-year-old has had to overcome.
As a child, she and four siblings lived in poverty in northern Ontario, sharing a series of cramped living spaces with Twain's mother and stepfather, a volatile couple who used to fight so violently that Twain worried they would eventually kill one another.
The pair were ultimately killed in a car accident that left a 22-year-old Twain to provide for her siblings by taking a job at a Vegas-themed cabaret show at Ontario's Deerhurst Resort.
Of course, those stories have always been an essential part of Twain's narrative. But "From This Moment On" also reveals other difficult details of the singer's almost impossibly painful life.
Twain writes about her efforts to forget the unwanted sexual advances of her stepfather, as well as the way he would whisper insults in her ear as she slept (still, she kept Twain as her stage name out of respect for the man).
She also recalls her anger when a neighbour maliciously killed her beloved family dog, and the ways in which any number of slimy industry types tried to take advantage of her during her early career.
If you can believe it, Twain still held back some material that she wasn't comfortable writing about.
"I wrote with a gauge in mind, and that was my son," said Twain, who sipped a glass of Chardonnay during the interview. "Anything that is too difficult for me to share with him, I did not write. ... You have to have some kind of boundaries as well.
"There's a balance between setting yourself healthy boundaries of what's yours to keep for you."
Both Twain's book and her new reality TV series, "Why Not" -- which debuts Friday in Canada on OWN -- seem unusually unguarded, less concerned with vanity than actually presenting something close to Twain's real life.
"Authenticity was everything," Twain said emphatically.
That also meant delving into the shattering aftermath of her divorce from Lange.
Twain met Lange -- the long-haired record producer who helmed massive hits by Def Leppard, AC/DC and Bryan Adams -- in June 1993 after the two had developed a friendly phone relationship. Twain was dissatisfied with her fledgling career at the time, with her self-titled debut generating modest interest but doing little to establish Twain's personality as a composer or singer.
Twain and Lange's romantic and professional relationships blossomed simultaneously, and they married six months after they met. Together, they authored a string of hits that would help Twain become one of the top-selling artists of all time.
But in 2008, their marriage dissolved when Twain discovered that Lange was involved with her best friend.
Twain documents her ensuing despair in unflinching detail in the book. She writes that she went a week without eating, that she was freezing cold all the time and physically ached "as though someone had sandpapered all my nerve endings." She also includes the angry letters she scrawled to her former friend.
Twain says it was the anguish over her failed marriage that left her unable to sing -- a doctor once told her that she suffered from an emotional block that had a real physiological effect on her voice, creating a strained, choked-up feeling.
The "Why Not" series will chronicle, in part, Twain's struggles to overcome that problem. The show will also document the recording of Twain's aforementioned new single, which she calls a "serious achievement."
Nearly a decade has passed already since Twain issued her last collection of new music -- 2002's "Up," which was certified diamond twice in Canada and went 11 times platinum in the U.S. -- and she says the new song points in the "eclectic" direction she wants to move with her next album.
In the book, she writes that she wants to connect with her "singing-around-the-house voice," guiding her career more by "exploration than calculation."
But she says that restoring her voice is an ongoing process.
"Soon I will go into therapy to rehabilitate the physical restraining I have on the muscles, the voice therapy, speech therapy -- because it's got nothing to do with singing, it's about the voice itself.
"And then there's going to be a psychological phase at the end, where I'm going have to accept that, OK, I'm physically better, there's nothing physiologically stopping me ... from singing, now all I need is the confidence to know that when I open my mouth to sing, that it's going to be there.
"And that in itself is a rehabilitation for me, psychologically."
Another part of Twain's rehab? She's found love with new husband Frederic Thiebaud (who happens to be the ex-husband of Marie-Anne Thiebaud, woman who allegedly came between Twain and Lange).
For all the pain she's endured, Twain says she's now feeling optimistic about the future.
"Life is great. I've learned so much. I'm just so grateful. And I really mean that. I don't mean that to be sappy. I just genuinely mean it," she says, pausing for a few moments before continuing.
"I'm satisfied and content, I guess you could say, and what more could you really ask for? And meaning that, I'm even satisfied with the past, and I'm content with that. Because then I wouldn't have Fred. And I wouldn't have all the beautiful things I have now.
"So I have no regrets in that sense. And I think, really, being genuine about that is where the peace comes. And that's where I'm at."