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Shania Twain was born Eileen Edwards in Canada on Aug. 28, 1965, the second oldest of five siblings. She was raised in Timmins, Ontario, about 500 miles due north of Toronto, where her stepfather, an Ojibway Indian named Jerry Twain, and mother, Sharon, had both been raised. It was a proud but, at times, impoverished existence. They struggled to keep enough food in the cupboards, but there was always an abundance of music in the household.
Twain often grabbed a guitar and retreated to the solitude of her bedroom singing and writing until her fingers ached. "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 my vocal style, but even more so, my writing style." Her mom noticed Twain's talents, and soon the youngster was being shuttled to radio and TV studios, community centers, senior citizens' homes, "everywhere they could get me booked." An 8-year-old Twain was often pulled out of bed to sing with the house band at a local club but only after alcohol sales ended at midnight. Later, Twain spent summers working with her stepfather 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.
In 1987, at age 21, Twain lost her parents in an automobile accident. She took on the responsibility of raising her three younger siblings. 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. Three years later, with her brothers grown enough to take care of themselves, Twain was on her own. Shedding her real name, Eileen, she adopted the Ojibway name of Shania, meaning "I'm on my way." Twain recorded a demo tape of original music and set her sights on Nashville.
Although Twain landed a record deal with Mercury Records on the basis of her original material, her self-titled 1993 debut album featured only one of her songs, the feisty "God Ain't Gonna Getcha for That." Singles "What Made You Say That" and "Dance With the One That Brought You" each peaked at No. 55 on the Billboard country singles chart. It took a phone call from a distant admirer, rock producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange (AD/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Bryan Adams and many more) for Twain to find a true believer, both in her voice and her original songs. Twain and Lange met face to face in Nashville at Fan Fair in 1993 and married six months later, by which time they'd written half an album's worth of tunes together. As 1994 unfolded, they traveled and wrote their way across the United States, Canada, England, Spain, Italy and the Caribbean. They began to lay down basic tracks for a new album in Nashville, later recording overdubs and mixing in Quebec.
The first results of their labor, "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under," entered the Billboard country singles chart in January 1995, peaking at No. 11. Twain's second album, The Woman in Me, debuted on the country albums chart the following month. The collection has sold 18 million copies, making Twain the best-selling country female artist of all time. The single "Any Man of Mine," hit the charts in May and became the first of four consecutive No. 1 hits for Twain, including "(If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here!," "You Win My Love" and "No One Needs to Know." The project won a Grammy for country album of the year and was named album of the year by the Academy of Country Music in 1995.
Twain's third Mercury collection, Come on Over, was released in 1997, two years after her last album. The project continued Twain's hot streak, producing No. 1 hits "Honey, I'm Home" and "Love Gets Me Every Time." The sultry ballad "You're Still the One" went to No. 1 on the country singles chart and made it to No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 pop chart, solidifying Twain as a crossover artist. The sassy "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," a Top 5 country hit, helped secure the singer a contract with cosmetics company Revlon, which used the tune in TV ads featuring Twain. Come on Over has sold 11 million copies to date.
While The Woman in Me broke records and made Twain an international star, critics didn't know what to make of her sexy image and independent approach to marketing her music. Instead of touring to promote the record, Twain made a series of sexy videos, one of which was shot on location in Egypt. The singer finally mounted her first major tour in 1998 following the release of Come on Over. The highly anticipated outing helped earn Twain entertainer of the year trophies from the ACM and the Country Music Association in 1999. Twain has won Grammys for best country song ("Come on Over" and "You're Still the One") and for best country female vocal performance ("Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and "You're Still the One"). She also has taken home trophies from the Canadian Country Music Awards, Canada's JUNO Awards and the American Music Awards. In 1999, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named Twain both country songwriter of the year and pop songwriter of the year. "You're Still the One" was named BMI's country and pop song of the year.
At the top of her game, Twain retreated to her home in Switzerland with her husband at the end of 1999. She and Lange welcomed their first child together in the summer of 2001 while preparing her 2002 release Up!, featuring the hits "I'm Gonna Getcha Good" and "Forever and For Always."
Twain released a Greatest Hits album in 2004, which included a duet with Billy Currington, "Party For Two."
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