Top-selling country star Shania Twain preps for her Stagecoach debut

The Orange County Register
By Kelli Skye Fadroski
April 18, 2017

It’s been 15 years since the last time country music singer-songwriter Shania Twain has dropped a new album. The now 51-year-old Queen of Country Pop and best-selling female country artist of all-time is more than ready to debut some new tunes during her first headlining turn at the 11th annual Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio on Saturday, April 29.

“I’m so excited because I’ve heard a lot about Stagecoach over all of these years and I really can’t believe that I’m only doing it now for the first time actually,” Twain said. “It’s never too late for firsts.”

Sandwiched in between headlining sets by Dierks Bentley and Kenny Chesney, Twain said she’s ready to bring it with her performance, which will undoubtedly include some of her biggest hits, such as “Any Man of Mine,” “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “You’re Still the One.”

She’ll also be treating the Stagecoach crowd to a couple of her brand new songs off of her forthcoming, yet-to-be-titled release that’s due out in early fall. The record will be her first since 2002’s “Up!” and marks the first time since she broke into the mainstream that she’s written and recorded without her now ex-husband and noted rock producer Robert “Mutt” Lange.

“This was an exercise in independence,” Twain said of the writing process. “I really just wanted to test myself and push my limits and face my fears. I haven’t worked alone in a really, really long time after all of those years of being partnered with Mutt professionally. It was a huge leap of courage for me to do this alone and I knew I was going to be carrying the weight of it alone, too. I just kept challenging myself and telling myself ‘OK, you’re going to write this album and we’ll find out what you’re made of these days’.”

A lot of the early writing and recording process was like therapy, Twain added since she and Lange, whom she married in 1993, finalized their divorce in 2010 after Twain found out he was allegedly having an affair with her best friend. In a crazy twist of fate, however, in 2011, Twain fell in love again and married Frédéric Thiébaud, the ex-husband of her former best friend.

It was a tumultuous, painful, embarrassing time emotionally and at the same time exciting, fresh and new, all of which Twain documents within the lyrical content for the new record. It wasn’t easy, she said, as she admitted to feeling scared, insecure and she experienced numerous bouts of self-doubt.

“It was tough at times,” she said. “Every single song was a nightmare because I was stressed about sharing it. It was a whole mix of feelings for me all the way around, but I’m so glad to be at the stage now where I’m ready to share it with the world. It’s a relief, actually. It was really scary, but it was also really therapeutic and I learned so much about myself and I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end because it ended up being an incredible experience.”

Songs like “Life’s About to Get Good” and “I’m Alright” are perfect examples of the highs and lows Twain experienced during the songwriting process.

“It wasn’t just about my divorce, but just the sadness and disappointment you feel and also how those feelings have evolved and almost become moments of celebration,” she explained. “The choruses in both of those songs are very celebratory and very happy. They’re optimistic. I love the contrast in those songs and this album overall is honest and touches on a lot of candid phrases and wordings of things, but at the same time it still takes me to a place where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s actually where I’m at right now.”

Though she’s always incorporated elements of rock and pop into her brand of country music, Twain decided not to set any parameters on herself in the studio this time around. She’s currently listening to a broad array of music from Twenty One Pilots, Drake, Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor to one of her 15-year-old son Eja’s favorite EDM artists, KSHMR and with her song “Light of My Life,” she said she drifted back to being 5 years old, sitting in her parents’ living room and listening to records by the Mamas & the Papas and the Beach Boys.

“I let the songwriting lead the way and let the stories go where they wanted to go,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I nurtured the authenticity and the acoustic elements in the album and I do basically 99.9 percent of all of the backing vocals and arranged all of them so they’re very organic and almost retro. I wanted to be true to my influences and to myself and stylistically it just ended up being very diverse from one song to the next. The theme of this record is really artistic independence.”

Though Twain largely disappeared from the spotlight in 2004, she later explained in her autobiography “From This Moment On,” which came out in 2011, that a specialist had discovered lesions on her vocal chords that required some rehabilitation. In 2012, she signed a deal to perform her show sell-out show Still the One at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace and in 2015 she embarked on her first tour in 11 years dubbed the Rock This Country tour. It was also originally billed as a farewell tour.

“I really loved being on tour and had the best time and it kind of ended too soon,” Twain said. She didn’t get to take the tour on an international run since she organized it around her son’s high school schedule. “I think as he gets older I will pick up where I left off and carry on and do more at some point,” she added.

Though she didn’t exactly indicate that a new album would mean a full-blown tour announcement would follow, she said the Rock This Country tour was an uplifting experience.

“It’s funny you’re bringing up the farewell tour because I felt like at that time maybe that was all I had left in me,” she said. “I really felt that way, but I was so energized by the tour and by the fans. For the first time in my career, I really felt like it was easier and the fans really gave me more than ever before for some reason. “

Throughout her career, Twain has received countless awards and accolades including Grammy awards, Juno awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011 and later this year she’ll get her own exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum in Nashville.

“It’s such a huge compliment,” she said. “It’s all part of the fun and it makes everything a little more real. A lot of times as things are happening in the moment, especially when you’re crazy busy, your schedule is nuts and you’re exhausted and working hard, you miss a lot of those moments as they’re happening because they’re just whizzing by you. So when you can go back and look at the star on the Walk of Fame or go to a museum and see your things, you can stop and reflect more. It’s almost like you take it in more at those moments than you did at the actual moment, so it’s as great for me as it is for fans.”

Stagecoach Country Music Festival

With: Shania Twain, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Cole Swindell, Randy Houser, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, Willie Nelson & the Family, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, Tyler Farr, Cam, Los Lobos, the Zombies, 38 Special, Travis Tritt, Wynonna & the Big Noise, Elle King, John Doe and many more.

When: Friday, April 28-Sunday, April 30

Where: Empire Polo Club, 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio

Tickets: Three-day general admission is available for $329 and C2 Corral Reserved Seating is $899 at The Corral Standing Pit and C1 Corral Reserved Seating are sold out.