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Point: Of Course Shania Twain Belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame!


The Boot
By Angela Stefano
May 22, 2017


Since 2013, Shania Twain has been eligible for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, in the Modern Era category. It’s hard to argue that she deserves the honor any more than Kenny Rogers, Ronnie Milsap, the Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson — the Modern Era inductees in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively — but there’s no question, Twain is a future Country Music Hall of Famer.

True, Twain’s time as one of country music’s leading superstars in the 1990s and early 2000s was relatively brief: She released her first album in ’93 and her last to date in ’02, and it wasn’t until 1995 that her star really started rising. And although she’s released both a hits album and a live album since then, and has a new studio album on the way, Twain mostly stayed away from the spotlight between the end of her Up! Tour in 2004 and the start of her Las Vegas residency in 2012.

In other words, Twain’s hiatus and her tenure as a hot country act lasted about the same amount of time. Rather than it being a strike against her, though, that’s exactly what makes Twain a leading candidate for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame: She managed to accomplish an incredible amount and leave a major mark on the genre in a pretty short amount of time (10 or so years) and with a smaller number of albums (only four) than most Hall of Fame inductees.

Despite her lack of new music in recent years, Twain’s songs remain among country music’s most quintessential — in playlists, at karaoke night, in fellow artists’ setlists as covers — and plenty of acts who came up after her (including at least one pop star) count Twain among their influences. Her most recent album was a decade-plus old when she began her two-year Vegas stint and her 2015 Rock This Country Tour, yet both were incredibly popular. In late 2016, all of Twain’s albums were released on vinyl, and fans remain rabid for some new songs, despite years of waiting.

By the numbers, too, Twain is a Country Music Hall of Fame shoo-in. The Woman in Me, Come on Over and Up! are all No. 1 and diamond-certified albums, and her Greatest Hits album is also a No. 1 and multi-platinum project. Twain’s live album peaked at No. 2 on the charts; even her self-titled first album, which peaked at No. 67 on the country charts, has gone platinum. Twain has six gold-certified singles and one multi-platinum single, seven No. 1 hits and nine additional Top 10 singles.

"Shania Twain’s hiatus and her tenure as a hot country act lasted about the same amount of time — and that’s exactly what makes Twain a leading candidate for induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame."

Most impressive, though, is the position of one of Twain’s albums — 1997’s Come on Over — in not only country music but music as a whole. Come on Over has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide; it debuted at No. 1 on the country charts, where it stayed for 50 non-consecutive weeks, and stayed in the Top 10 for more than 150 weeks. In the United States, Come on Over is the best-selling album by a country artist of all time; the best-selling album by a female artist, in any genre, of all time; and the sixth best-selling album by any act of all time. The five artists above Twain on that list are Michael Jackson (Thriller), Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin IV), Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon), the Eagles (Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)) and AC/DC (Back in Black) — that’s some serious company.

Twain has five Grammy Awards, four ACM Awards, two CMA Awards and plenty of other trophies to her name. She’s got a star on both Canada’s Walk of Fame (she’s a native of Ontario, Canada) and the Hollywood Walk of Fame; in her native country, Twain also has a key to the city of Timmins, Ontario, and is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and an Order of Canada officer.

In June, Twain will receive an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame highlighting her life and career. Hopefully, a permanent spot in the hallowed hall isn’t far behind; she certainly deserves it.

The Boot and Taste of Country’s collaborative Point / Counterpoint series features staff members from the two sites debating topics of interest within country music once per month. Check back on June 20 for another installment.

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Counterpoint: Shania Twain Is Not a Country Hall of Famer ... Yet


Taste of Country
By Billy Dukes
May 22, 2017


Albums released after an artist turns 50 are typically just gravy on an already successful career, but Shania Twain‘s next album matters. Her Country Music Hall of Fame candidacy may depend on it.

Right now Twain is relying on eight really good years. Okay, right now the “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” singer is relying on eight of the best years in country music history. She redefined what it means to be a woman in country music, ushered in a pop sound and stood for independence, assertiveness and power while not losing any line dance credibility. Few women active in country music today weren’t influenced by Twain, and even fewer are not benefitting from the barriers her music pushed through.

"Her fans won’t like this, but if you’re fighting for her, you’re also fighting for Taylor Swift and (egad!) Florida Georgia Line. There are parallels, love ’em or hate ’em"

But eight years, four albums and fewer than 10 No. 1 country singles does not make a Hall of Fame career. Two things are hurting Twain’s chances of being chosen soon: the relative brevity of her commercial career (so far) and that she relied on a lot of Nashville outsiders. This latter point is an unfortunate truth about the country music industry. You need people pulling for you, and her closest ally is now her ex-husband. In fact, if you induct Twain you have to be willing to bring Mutt Lange into the Country Music Hall of Fame, as well. Raise a hand if you think that will ever happen.

The sacrifices Twain made to make herself an international superstar may hurt her candidacy in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Quickly she became bigger than Nashville, and that made it difficult to endear herself to the community like some others (see Carrie Underwood). She’s mysterious and private, like Hank Williams Jr. to some degree, but without the surliness and the polarizing politics. (Side note: How great would a Twain, Williams Jr. “Induct Us” Tour be? Can you imagine the crowd?!)

Someone is eligible for the Hall of Fame 20 years after first earning national prominence, which was about 2015 for Twain. Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Toby Keith became eligible sooner, and all three are likely to enter first. Very rarely does an artist earn induction at that 20 year mark. It was over 30 years for Randy Travis in 2016. Alan Jackson‘s induction this October will come closer to his 30 year anniversary. Compare their resumes. Jackson notched hits for nearly 25 years and rarely stepped away from the spotlight, even if he didn’t always jump beneath it. Twain has a lot of very good reasons for disappearing for over a decade (family, divorce, losing her voice and self-confidence), but the fact remains she was only active for about 40 percent of her 20 years.

Pop-friendly country singers have historically been kept out of the CMHOF longer than their contemporaries (see Kenny Rogers), and Twain is as much a pop star as she is a country star. Her fans won’t like this, but if you’re fighting for her, you’re also fighting for Taylor Swift and (egad!) Florida Georgia Line. There are parallels, love ’em or hate ’em.

There is still time to change the script, however. This new project needs to be more than her diary set to music, if Hall of Fame induction is something she values. If Twain can continue to influence the next generation or dig into the Nashville songwriting community, everything will change for her over the next 10 years. Of course, she doesn’t need the Country Music Hall of Fame for validation, and it’s very possible the 51-year-old puts enshrinement near the bottom of her bucket list.

The Boot and Taste of Country’s collaborative Point / Counterpoint series features staff members from the two sites debating topics of interest within country music once per month. Check back on June 20 for another installment.