How does a girl raised in small town Northern Ontario become the biggest-selling female artist of all time? A rare mix of ambition, creativity, a passion for singing, and fortune has made Shania Twain the most successful crossover artist to date.
Born Eilleen Regina Edwards in Windsor, Ontario, in 1965, she moved to her mom's hometown of Timmins, Ontario as a child after her parents divorced. Her mother Sharon remarried, and she and her sisters Jill and Carrie Ann were adopted by her step-dad Jerry Twain. Two younger brothers came along shortly after.
Times were tough, but the family persevered through hard work and a shared love of music. A young Twain sang and performed around the community, and by age 10 she began writing her own songs. As a teen she would sometimes skip classes to work on her songwriting.
In the mid-1980s she headed south to Toronto where she worked a day job and performed nights. Then tragedy struck: Twain's parents were killed in a car accident. She returned to the North and assumed the responsibilities of executrix of her parent's estate and raising her younger siblings. She moved her family to Huntsville, Ontario where she landed a job singing at the Deerhurst Resort. There she blossomed from a barroom singer to a theatrical performer. In 1990 she adopted the name 'Shania,' an Ojibway word meaning "on my way," as a tribute to her stepfather's native heritage and a symbol of her determination.
Some Nashville music executives saw her perform at the resort and offered her the chance to produce a demo, which led to her record deal with the Mercury Nashville label. Her first self-titled album was released in 1993 with mostly other artists' material.
When legendary music producer Robert "Mutt" Lange (AC/DC, The Cars, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Brian Adams, The Corrs) caught her video on Country Music Television Europe he was hooked. Lange and Twain teamed up write her second album The Woman in Me and fell in love along the way. The couple married in December 1993 and solidified one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in music today. With more than 34 million copies sold, Twain's third album, Come on Over, is the biggest-selling country recording by any artist and is tied for the fifth best-selling record of all time.
Twain has earned Billboard's Top Country Album (1996), five Grammys for Best Country Album, two Best Country Songs and two Best Female Country Vocal Performances. She has also won numerous other honours for her music from the American Music Awards, The JUNOs, the Canadian Country Music Awards and the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards.
In the summer of 2001, The City of Timmins officially opened the Shania Twain Centre. The attraction houses an exhibit of Twain's memorabilia and pays tribute to the town's favorite country star.
Twain's fourth studio album, Up!, has met unprecedented success. Since its release on November 19, 2002, UP! has sold more than 1,000,000 records in Canada alone. It has also set a new record for consecutive weeks in the #1 chart position at 11. UP! was the highest selling record (foreign or domestic) in Canada in 2002.
Shania performed at the 2002 Grey Cup game in Edmonton, Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, and hosted the 2003 JUNO Awards in Ottawa on April 6th, 2003.
In 2004, she released the Greatest Hits album, with three new tracks. As of 2008, it has sold over four million copies in the U.S. The first single, the multi-format duet "Party for Two", made the country top ten with Billy Currington, while the pop version with Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath made top ten in the UK and Germany. The follow-up singles, "Don't!" and "I Ain't No Quitter", did not fare as well. The former made Top 20 on Adult Contemporary, while the latter did not gain enough airplay to crack the Country Top 40.
On November 19, 2004, she appeared on the BBC charity telethon Children in Need. In addition to performing "Up!", she also acted as one of the celebrity assistants in an "all-star" magic act, in an illusion called "Clearly Impossible", in which she was sawed in half inside a clear-sided box.
In August 2005, she released the single "Shoes" from the Desperate Housewives soundtrack.
In April 2010, Twain announced plans for her own TV show, entitled Why Not? With Shania Twain. The show debuted in May 2011 on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Twain returned to American Idol as a guest mentor for a week where the top 6 contestants showcased her songs.
In 2011, Twain released her first biography, From this Moment On.
On March 27th, 2011, Shania Twain was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In 2016, CMT honoured her as the "Artist of a Lifetime", and was given a special award during the 2016 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony.