In the early 1990s, when the popularity of country music was exploding like never before thanks to superstar artists such as Garth Brooks, Shania Twain came along to leave no doubt that it wasn’t only men who could climb to the top of the pop and the country sales charts.
Although her major-label debut album in 1993 didn’t cause many ripples, her single “Any Man of Mine” from her 1995 sophomore effort, “The Woman in Me,” launched a string of successes that continued unabated for nearly a decade.
The secret for the woman, who as a young adult had to take care of her three younger siblings after their parents were killed in a car accident, was her ear for songs full of instantly memorable lyrics, melodic and instrumental hooks — elements brought to the fore through her collaboration with rock superstar producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, whom she later married.
Twain’s music, which also brimmed with PG sex appeal, didn’t always sound traditionally country, helping her score airplay on pop and adult contemporary radio stations as she helped push the boundaries of what country radio programmers would embrace. “The Woman in Me” logged more than six months at the top of the country album chart and landed her the first of five Grammy Awards she’s won for country album, song and female country vocal categories. The follow-up, “Come On Over,” spent nearly a year at No. 1 on the country chart and remains the second-biggest-selling album of the last 20 years across all genres, according to the Nielsen SoundScan sales monitoring service.
Her last studio album, “Up!” in 2002, cannily was issued in two versions — one skewed country, the other mixed to emphasize pop elements. During that time, her marriage to Lange imploded in a most public fashion for this historically private woman, but she remarried in 2011 and published her autobiography, “From This Moment On,” which is earning praise for the unvarnished honesty with which she’s related her life story to date. Her reality TV show, "Why Not? With Shania Twain," premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network in May.
As she puts the pieces of her life back together, fans can reasonably expect new chapters to a story that will probably be accompanied by new music.