Fifty-two-year-old singer Shania Twain is one of the most prominent stars in pop/country history. She has sold over 100 million records. The enormous hits “You’re Still The One” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” are only two of many. The Canadian singer and songwriter was born on 28th August 1965. Her positive spirit and her gorgeous smile make it difficult to believe that her life has been full of dark and tragic moments.
Shania has used her love for music through all her ups and downs. The well-known musician has been incredibly strong throughout her darkest moments in life, from a cheating husband to an abusive father. “Any Man of Mine” was one of the hits that won her a Grammy Award out of the total of five Grammys awards during her career.
This article first appeared in Ranker.
Shania’s stepfather was physically and verbally abusive
The singer has described her stepfather, Jerry Twain, both positively and negatively in interviews during her career. When he married her mother, he adopted Shania and her two sisters. She was only four at the time and she was fond of him, calling him ‘Dad’.
“It was the Jekyll and Hyde in him that was the greatest torture,” she said Rolling Stone “I loved him and I respected so much what he did for us, being the hard worker, he set a great example. So I’m still left confused. I’m baffled by all of that, I really am.”
Despite teaching her to be a good person, he was verbally abusive to her when she was a child. Also, physically abusive to her mother. Shania convinced her mother to leave him and live in a shelter in Toronto.
Photo: David Swales/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0
At one point, the domestic abuse got so bad she thought her stepfather had killed her mother
Photo: David Swales/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0
One time when Shania was growing up she thought that she had been a witness to her mother’s death. The singer’s stepfather had shoved Sharon’s head into a toilet.
“I really thought she was drowned, or dead, or that he had just smashed her head in and she was never going to wake up… She looked dead. She was unconscious, she was limp, hanging from his, you know, her, he had her hair in his hands. Also, through the humiliation of how I thought she had been killed, by drowning in a toilet seat… It was very, very obviously very hard to take.” she said in an interview with Nightline
Her husband cheated on her with her best friend
Photo: Shania Twain Vevo/Youtube
She was married for 14 years to her producer, Robert “Mutt” Lange. She gave birth to a baby boy called Eja in August 2001. The singer accused her ex-husband of having an affair with her best friend, Mary-Anne Thiebaud, who was also his assistant. Of course, they both denied the affair so it was awfully destructive to Shania when she found out the truth from Frederic Thiebaud, Mary-Anne’s husband. This was just a day after Lange had asked her for a divorce.
The singer was so heartbroken that she sent Thiebaud a mail, begging for him back, “I am dying, and I can’t take it anymore. This is killing me. Have mercy.”
However, they separated in 2008 and the divorce was completed in 2010. Surprisingly, Twain and Frederic became a couple once their ex-partners’ affair was revealed.
She had to sing in bars at 8 years old to help her family pay the bills
Photo: mikehogan2/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
When she was only eight, Shania started performing in bars in order to provide some money to help her parents pay the bills. Depending on the night, she would usually make from 20 to 50 dollars.
Her parents died in a car crash, leaving 21-year-old Shania to care for her three younger siblings
Photo: Zoltán Szabó/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Her music career started when she was 21 years old. However, Shania had to take care of her three siblings after the death of her mother and stepfather in a tragic car accident. In order to provide support and help for her family, she got a regular gig in a “Las Vegas-style show”.
She grew up in poverty, occasionally taking “poor man’s sandwiches” to school
Photo: Katherine Brock/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0
The ‘poor man’s sandwich’ is a sandwich with only two pieces of bread and just mustard or mayonnaise in between. Because of the financial struggles of her family, this was the only food she would bring to school. Also, she didn’t want the lack of food to make her teachers call the child services.
She, her mother, and her siblings spent time in a homeless shelter
Photo: Sara Collaton/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0
The poverty problems in the singers family escalated. And as previously mentioned, Shania convinced her mother to leave her stepfather, and together with her other siblings, they ended up in a homeless shelter.
She writes in her memoir From this moment on “Mom got out of the car to use a pay phone while we sat and waited in the car, returning a few minutes later with a piece of paper on which she’d scribbled the address of a homeless shelter. That night, we slept in a crowded, sweltering place on cot-like beds spread out along the walls of a series of spacious, open rooms designed for large groups.”
Twain began to experience Dysphonia after her divorce
Photo: Jerry Daykin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
After the divorce, she not only lost her husband and her best friend but also her voice. Shania was diagnosed with a condition called dysphonia. It causes the loss of the voice, but fortunately, it was only temporary.
“The muscles literally constrict the voice box and prevent air from flowing properly… You don’t get any volume, which is not very good for a singer… It’s got nothing to do with the vocal chords, the voice is perfectly fine… I would say the envelope around the vocal chords is restricting, and not allowing the vocal chords to do their job.” she said in an interview with Nightline
While on the treatment she withdrew from public performing but, she recovered enough so she could sing again.