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Title: From This Moment On
Author: Shania Twain
From This Moment On is the 2011 autobiography by the legendary Queen of Country Pop, Shania Twain.
I have been a huge fan of Shania Twain since I was little and my dad played her Come On Over album to me, which I think for most people in the UK was their introduction to the icon.
The album still holds the record today of being the biggest-selling album by a female artist and the biggest-selling country album ever and recently celebrated it’s 25th anniversary with a new Diamond Edition on CD and Vinyl, which contains newly remastered audio from the original master tapes as well as duets with Chris Martin, Elton John, Alison Krauss and the Backstreet Boys plus brand new remixes, which is available on Amazon here.
Over the years I’ve bought all of her albums and even re-purchased them on vinyl when I bought my record player in 2016 and with the release of her latest album, Queen of Me I thought now would be a good time to read Shania’s autobiography which was published in 2011.
The biography tells in great detail Shania’s upbringing in an impoverished, mixed-race and blended family in Timmins, Ontario. Shania (whose real name is of course Eileen Twain and her older sister Jill and younger sister Carrie-Ann) were bought up by her mother Sharon and stepdad Jerry Twain, along with their son Mark and later Jerry’s nephew Darryl after his sister died.
Though the family were close and had some good times, money was a constant struggle and Sharon and Jerry frequently got into very violent fights with domestic abuse being apparent and the family frequently moved to different houses as they couldn’t keep up with paying the bills.
Eventually things came to a head and Shania moved her mother and siblings to Toronto but they returned a year later. However, this gave Jerry and Sharon a chance to save some money and start up a tree-planting business. Shania at the age of 18 eventually left the family home and began singing in pubs and clubs but in 1987 things took a tragic turn when her parents died in a car accident, leaving Shania with the difficult situation of having to look after her younger siblings.
With the help of her mothers friend and local signer Mary Bailey, Shania took a job at the Deerhurst Resort in Ontario as a singer. A few years later she put together a demo tape which she performed in front of executives and eventually received a record deal from Mercury Nashville.
Three years later, her first album was released called Shania Twain in 1993 and was initially a flop, although it did have some minor hit country singles. However that same year she met Robert John “Mutt” Lange who had worked with acts such as Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, Def Leppard and more. The two would form a writing partnership and later a relationship, getting married in 1993.
This partnership would result in Shania’s breakthrough album in the US, The Woman In Me which had eight singles released from it. It appeared the two struck lightning in a bottle as the follow-up album was of course, the all-conquering Come On Over.
Shania talks in great detail about the tailspin of this time and how though she was and is eternally grateful for what came from this time, the sudden rise in fame and interest in her was at times very draining and it was hard for her to fully appreciate it at the time with how busy everything was.
After this album came her fourth album Up! which continued her success around the world, it also gave her a new accolade of being the only female artist to have three consecutive albums certified Diamond in the USA. She also gave birth to her son Eja but it was clear by this point that she had become burnt out from constant recording, promotion and touring and so the family moved to Switzerland.
As Shania threw herself into being a mum however she realised there were cracks forming in her relationship with Mutt and eventually discovered he was having an affair with her best friend and his assistant, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. As the relationship crumbled however, Shania found solace in her former friend’s ex-husband Frederic and the two eventually formed a relationship and got married.
The book is a very interesting read and deep dive into a music legend. Though I was aware of parts of the story from seeing interviews, hearing it in great detail from Shania herself makes it even more endearing and incredible how she went from a small-town girl to one of the biggest artists in music history.
The book does contain some heavy domestic violence themes and Shania also had men try to take advantage of her and sexually assault her which will be triggering to people reading the book and those early chapters are very hard hitting.
I think also one of the most interesting parts in a different way was how she found success from her writing partnership with Mutt Lange. Shania at the time (and even when the book was released) had to deal with quite a lot of detractors stating she was only a puppet of Mutt was largely behind her success.
It was only when she released 2017’s Now album which Shania fully wrote and produced herself which put paid to this misconception. However this book does a great job of explaining the partnership and how they worked together to create three top-selling albums which revolutionised country music, created the new genre of country pop and paved the way for many artists such as Taylor Swift, Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood.
It also explains some of Shania’s thinking behind the album promotion, for example during The Woman In Me era she didn’t go on tour due to her feeling she needed more hit songs, though this probably played into the hands of the critics in some ways who wanted to say she couldn’t sing and it was all done in the studio (I actually remember reading somewhere that Mariah Carey faced similar criticisms).
Shania also talks about the dark side of fame and how it had led her to become a bit less trusting and closed off around people, as well as the crushing betrayal of her husband and best friend.
Overall if you are a fan of Shania or a fan of country music I would highly recommend giving this memoir a look. You can also get a copy of the book on Amazon here.