Shania Twain explains why the 'Rock This Country' tour will be her last
This summer, Shania Twain will do something she hasn’t done in over a decade: She’ll be going on tour. After spending the better part of two years performing as a resident at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the 49-year-old Twain will be taking her show on the road. Not only will it be her first series of concerts in 11 years, but she also intends for it to be her last.
“I felt like I was going to accomplish everything I needed to accomplish, and what else was there left to do after Las Vegas? It was such a pinnacle moment in my performing career,” Twain tells EW. “It was a huge mountain for me to climb because I hadn’t been on stage in a long time, and I felt like I had arrived once I achieved that. I feel very satisfied after doing that. I’ve got so many things I want to do and not enough time to do them.” Those projects include a new album, which is currently in production and would be her first studio release since 2002’s diamond-selling Up!.
In a candid conversation for our Summer Must List issue (on stands now), Twain spoke with EW about her Vegas show, why she loves Bruce Springsteen, and the terrifying period when she thought she would never sing again.
Entertainment Weekly: What has pulled you back onto the road after the Las Vegas residency?
Shania Twain: My stage concert career is coming to an end, and I didn’t want to finish that in one room. I wanted go to the people instead of hosting and having everybody coming to me. I wanted to visit everybody else and go to their hometowns. It felt like the right spirit to be doing that in. Vegas surprised me—it was such a success. Of course I was hoping it would be a success, but you never really know. So there was a lot of relief there, and now that I’ve achieved that I want to enjoy it a little bit longer, and the next phase of that is to get out on the road and bring myself to the fans.
How is the planning going on this tour? How have you approached it?
I normally just start with a theme. What theme do I want? People want to hear the hits, so they’re going to get that. I wanted it to be a rock show. There are so many guitars in all the songs. So when I say a rock show, the music is still what it is. It’s not like now I’m just making all the songs rock, they are what they are. But the theme is a more straightforward rocking spectacle. The contemporary side is more the technology and what we can bring to the stage as far as gadgets. I told the director the theme I want, and we went from there with all the latest and greatest technology.
You’re in the middle of working on your first new album since 2002. Will there be new songs on this tour?
I think it’s to be determined. Maybe the timing will work out so that we can do that. It’s hard to know how soon the new music will be ready. I’m working on it all the time, but the irony of all this is going out on the road is going to slow all of that down. That’s my dilemma! When I’m out on the road and putting productions together, I’m not working on new music. I think when you’re a singer and a performer and you’re not a writer and you’re not involved with the production, you’re not really creating stuff, you can just tour and record all the time and never run out of steam or worry about that balance. I just feel like I need to grow another me if I’m going to be able to do it all. I need to get my petri dish out or something, and duplicate my creative self so I can write and record and produce and perform all at the same time. And I’m a parent of a teenage child and I’ve got a lovely marriage, and I’d like to balance my personal life as well. That takes dedication. But I’ve got all kinds of albums I want to make that I’ve been putting off—I’d love to make a Christmas album at some point. I really want to give people new music.
Since you haven’t recorded an album in so long, is there a backlog of hundreds of songs?
Oh yes. I want to do a lot more recording. I don’t feel like I’ve made enough records in my life. A lot of artists make a new album every year, and I just have such a sparse amount of recordings, and I’ve got a lot more to say and to sing in that sense. I’ve been lucky, because the fans are so dedicated to the music I already have, and they love that music. It’s their classic Shania—they own that. But that want new music, and so do I. It’s like anything. I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, and they’re still out there and still touring. I love the new stuff, but I’ll always want to hear the old stuff.
Who do you consider your peers in the touring world?
I think some of the classic artists are really still some of the best shows. I would say Springsteen is somebody who is a touring mentor. It just never gets old and it’s always exciting and the vibe is always amazing. He works so hard. It is work! It takes a commitment, and it’s a big commitment. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.
Before your Vegas residency, you had vocal problems and couldn’t sing for a long time. Did you ever think that it was over for you?
Yes, definitely. It was very depressing for me. I really believed that I would never sing again. I was convinced, because for a long time I just couldn’t get it out. It wasn’t my vocal cords, which was very frustrating—if it was a straight ahead problem I could just have an operation for, then I would have done it and dealt with it and got back to singing. But it was so much more mysterious than that. It’s been a giant, long-term issue. It was more like an athlete going into rehab for an injury. It was a slow, painful process—it was like having to learn to walk all over again after an accident. I had to learn how to use my voice again. It was all there, but I had to learn how to use the tools all over again from scratch, and it was very frustrating.
Do you think it has made you a different kind of singer?
There are parts of my voice that were never there or I never knew I had. I never discovered them because I was never forced to discover them. Just as an example: When I was on the road before, I never even warmed up. My voice was preserved really well and I was technically doing all the right things and never really struggled with my voice. Now I need an hour now of serious warming up. It’s very structured and disciplined. I’ve got to eat a very specific way on show days. I have to rest more. It just takes more work. That just could be age, too, that’s all part of it. I’ll have to do it forever. It’s a physical workout and a vocal workout. It’s very high maintenance. But I do think I sing better, and I think I can do more things with my voice now than I did before. When I say I sing better, I think I’ve got some better qualities that I never had before. Though there are some things I could sing when I was younger that I probably couldn’t sing now unless I had a two hour warm-up routine, which I’m not really willing to do.