Shania Twain reveals ‘violent’ past and fears she’ll ‘never sing again’ in Netflix documentary ‘Not Just A Girl’
In a new documentary Not just a girl (on Netflix July 26), the legendary Shania Twain opens up about how she would never sing again because of her Lyme disease infection.
“My symptoms were pretty scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage, very dizzy, losing my balance, afraid of falling off the stage,” Twain explains in the documentary. “I had…power cuts in milliseconds, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds.”
My voice has never been the same again. It just got into this weird flanging, this lack of control… I thought I had lost my voice forever, I thought that was it, that I would never sing again.Shania Twain
It was in fact while she was suffering the terrifying effects of Lyme disease that she faced another tragedy, she discovered that her husband, music producer and songwriter Mutt Lange, was having an affair with her best friend.
“In this search to figure out what was causing this lack of voice control and voice change, I was dealing with a divorce, my husband is leaving me for another woman,” Twain says, starting to get emotional in the documentary. “Now I’m on a whole other low and I just don’t see the point in pursuing a music career.”
“When I lost Mutt, I guess I thought, I thought the grief of that was, it was just as intense as losing my parents and it was like death, … a permanent end to so many so many facets of my life, and i never got over my parents dying so i think, shit, i’m never gonna get over it…so all i can do is figure out how i’m gonna carry on from there.
“Growing up in a violent family was horrible”
Long before her marriage and Lyme diagnosis, little Shania Twain was a music-loving child growing up in Timmins, Ontario.
The documentary reveals that her mother was particularly supportive of her daughter’s singing, taking her to local bars to sing from the age of eight, when her father was sleeping.
But Twain also revealed that if her father was awake when she and her mother returned, “it wouldn’t end well.”
Growing up in an abusive home was horrible, but I locked myself in with music to block out everything else so all I could see, hear, think, and imagine was music.Shania Twain
“Probably hearing my mom say, ‘you can do it, you will’, I felt like it was going to save us somehow, if I did it, and that was more of a responsibility to be a performer, make it a career.
As the Twain star continued to shine brighter, teaming up with country artist and former Twain manager Mary Bailey to do demos to pique the interest of music producers and record labels. , Twain’s parents both died in a car crash in 1987. That left the 22-year-old responsible for her younger siblings and that financial responsibility led her to work in a Vegas-style show at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, while writing songs in the very limited free time she had and learning to play.
“I had no idea how to sing and wear high-heeled shoes, for example, at the same time,” Twain says.
“A disruption of the image of country music”
Shania Twain signed her first recording contract in 1992, but the singer admitted that at the time she didn’t feel like she had creative control over the music created for her debut album.
“You had a female artist and a female manager, to begin with, and I don’t think we were taken seriously,” Mary Bailey says in the documentary.
“You have to work three times as hard as the average guy in country music to stand a chance,” Twain says. “Being relentless was the only way.”
“I think that’s the only way they’re going to be taken seriously, you have to kill yourself to get there. I don’t know, is it worth it? I don’t know, I mean, I think when you’re young, why not, right?”
It’s really in her music videos that Twain was able to express her creativity and really present herself as she wanted in her career.
Twain calls herself a “country music image disruptor,” largely tied to her music videos, beginning with the music video for her song “What Made You Say That.”
“It was the moment that I captured creatively and it was liberating,” Twain says in the documentary. “I freed myself in so many ways, from that very first video, it was like freedom.”
“That was probably the biggest turning point for me as an artist, that it was going to be practical from there.”
Bailey echoed Twain’s comments, calling her “What Made You Say That” music video “fresh.”
“Look at this, it’s like, oh my god, how can we show this, I mean this woman is very sensual and CMT wasn’t too enthusiastic at first because it was all new, women don’t didn’t really show their bellies that a lot of country music does,” Bailey says.
“It’s a sexist point of view”
As Shania Twain continued to forge her path in the music industry, one of the main goals of Not just a girl is the sexism she has faced in her career.
By the time she released her album “Come On Over” in 1997, which became the best-selling country album and the best-selling album by a female artist of all time, sexism persisted, including the how her collaboration with her then-husband Mutt Lange was seen.
“In interviews, reporters were calling him Svengali and how could all these phenomenal things come out of nowhere about this girl,” Twain says. “I guess they just didn’t believe it.”
“Of course, if I had been a guy, it just wouldn’t have been seen in the same way. It’s a sexist point of view, there’s no doubt about it. To create another great work, for me, was proof in the pudding that this was just a really genuine, genuine relationship that had nothing fake or strained about it.
When music videos for songs like “That Doesn’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I feel like a woman” came out, Twain was a true feminist icon but also, as Diplo puts it in the documentary, “America’s most wanted woman.”
“During that time, … I just enjoyed singing with attitude, singing about being a strong woman,” Twain says. “It’s part of my personality, it’s really my true personality, I have my point of view, I want to get it across, I expect to get it across, but I’m not trying to piss anyone off. in the process. “
Looking back at Twain’s current life, post-Lyme diagnosis and post-divorce and remarriage, still making music to this day, Twain says now is a time that for her is all about love. empowerment, being “less apologetic than ever” and feeling good about yourself.