SHANIA TWAIN: AS GOOD AS IT GETS
BY MARGY HOLLAND
Shania Twain is closing out the millennium as one of the most successful artists in the world. Her record-setting sales feats and numerous accolades and industry awards have set her apart from the rest and put her in a league of her own. Sales of her current album, Come On Over, have reached a staggering sixteen million, making her second only to pop/rock singer Alanis Morissette when it comes to album sales by a female. Twain recently captured the prestigious honor of being named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association (CMA).
Though her long list of awards includes Grammys, American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and World Music Awards, this was Twain's first nod from the CMA. She celebrated after the show by routing her limousine driver through the drive-thru window of Krispy Kreme donuts for "one of those great donuts they brought to us everyday when we were recording Come On Over."
The singer does not display any of her awards, but humbly stores them in one specific room in her house. Her gold and platinum awards and plaques hang in the one place Twain spends most of her time--in her stable. While each accolade takes on its own special meaning, the thirty-four-year-old singer says that she doesn't place great importance on winning awards.
"I'm as excited as anyone when I get up there and win, but to be honest with you, I don't sit there waiting. I learned a long time ago that you just end up being very disappointed. I think it can make you very bitter if you just put too much weight in that. I don't want to be bitter. I don't even want to compete on that level, so I take it very lightly, actually."
Twain wrapped up her first world tour last summer, performing before sold-out crowds of as many as thirty-thousand people per show and changing the opinions of naysayers who at one time doubted her talent. "When I went out there I didn't feel like I needed to prove anything to anyone. I understood that most people didn't know my background. They had never really seen much of me live. Before I got my record deal, my livelihood was singing live. That's what I did. I am no different on my stage that I was in any club," said the Canadian-born Twain.
"Throughout my childhood and all of my teens, it was just me and a bar. It was mostly rock music which requires a lot of energy. Rock is the hardest thing to sing night after night, six nights a week, with a matinee and you're traveling in a very dumpy truck and terrible hotels and it's awful. I've done all that, so going into this situation on the road was like a luxury. It was like floating on a cloud. I've got this amazing bus, I've got my dog with me, I've got my horse, I've got all sorts of wonderful people around me that I've hand-chosen so I know I like them. I'm making a great living, and I don't even sing every night of the week. I'm singing sometimes two or three shows in a row at the most. What an easy gig! It was like nothing compared to what I was used to, so if you come from that background and it was your living, this kind of touring is pretty darn easy and fun."
While life since her childhood in Timmins, Ontario has certainly changed for Twain, she resists the star treatment and insists on living a normal life. "Everyone loves attention. We love the attention when it's complimentary and we hate the attention when it sucks, so we're all the same. I'm no different than anyone else, but as far as the actual fame goes, I really don't like being treated like a star," said Twain. "I like to be just a normal, everyday person. I get away with a lot. I decided in the last year--especially on the tour because I really felt like I was living even more in a bubble than I had ever before--I decided to start going for walks by myself and I decided to start not taking security and I decided to start doing things like other people do and like I used to do. If you dress down and you just act like a normal person and you don't act like a star, then people don't notice you as much and I enjoy that the most."
Twain does use her star power, however, when it really counts. Like all celebrities, she often gets those special requests to meet with terminally ill children and adults. "The beauty about being able to reach people or to help people when they're sick and dying is that you can only almost do that as a celebrity," said Twain. "It means so much to them. It's almost like if you can use your celebrity in those ways and no other way, then you've got a good balance."
Aside from her philanthropic works, the one thing that helps keep the superstar focused on what is really important is her family. Twain has two brothers and two sisters who remain in Canada, but the miles between them are no problem for the tight-knit group. "I depend on my family a lot," said Twain. "I need to stay grounded, in the sense that I like to remember where I'm from. I get lonely like everybody gets lonely. I get lonely for smelling firewood in the air, the sound of a loon, and snowmobiling with my nephews. I get lonely for those sorts of things, and I don't get home often enough, so I bring my family to me. They're experimenting in new things because of it, so it's kind o neat what's happening to us as a family. We depend a lot on each other, more and more all of the time." Twain flew her family to her new home in Switzerland for the Christmas holidays.
In the meantime, she is working on a Christmas album for
2000, and a new country album which could also be released as early as
this year. Though her demanding schedule seems never-ending, Twain says
she has finally learned how to make the most out of her career. "I started
enjoying the ride at least in the last year. The tour has been a great
release for me because I've been able to get out on the stage and sweat
it out, be with the fans, feel that encouragement and get a lot of my confidence
back because I think I lost that for a while--feeling the pressure of being
a celebrity, feeling like I had to live up to certain things. I mean, it's
all a part of it. Realizing that you're really not that great. I mean,
there's always someone who's better than you in every way and sometimes
that's a hard pill to swallow when you're a perfectionist and you're really
trying to be great and you're trying to be the best and you have to accept
that you're just not always the best," Twain said. "You have to come to
terms with that and get comfortable with yourself and I'm finally getting
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