Shania Twain’s journey from a violent household to ‘liberation’ is traced in ‘Not Just A Girl’

The legendary singer says music saved her from a violent father in Timmins, Ont., but that her mother fully supported her dreams, taking her to local bars to sing when her father was asleep.

“Growing up in a violent household was horrible but I locked myself away with music to block out everything else so that all I could see, hear, think and imagine was music,” Twain explains. “Probably hearing my mother saying, ‘You can make it, you’re going to make it,’ I felt like that was going to save us somehow, if I made it, and it was more of a responsibility to be a performer, to do it as a career.”

In 1987, Twain’s parents both died in a car crash. She signed her first recording contract in 1992, and once she started making music videos, she says she felt more in control creatively.

“That was the moment that I grabbed on to creatively and it was liberating,” Twain said.

Twain also reveals that she thought at one point she would never sing again as a result of a Lyme disease infection.

“My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage, very dizzy, I was losing my balance, I was afraid I was going to fall off the stage,” she said. “I was having…millisecond blackouts, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds. My voice was never the same again. It just went into this strange flanging, lack of control… I thought I lost my voice forever, I thought that was it, I would never, ever sing again.”

While battling the effects of Lyme disease she found out her husband, music producer and song writer Mutt Lange, was having an affair with her best friend.

“In that search to determine what was causing this lack of control with my voice and this change in my voice, I was facing a divorce, my husband leaves me for another woman,” Twain said, adding, “Now I’m at a whole other low and I just don’t see any point in going on with a music career.”

She continued: “When I lost Mutt I guess I thought, I was thinking that the grief of that was, it was similarly intense to losing my parents and it was like death,…a permanent end to so many facets of my life, and I never got over my parents’ death. So I’m thinking, s**t, I’m never going to get over this… So all I can do is determine how I’m going to carry on from there.”

Twain meanwhile had become a feminist icon, with hits like “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.”

“During that time,…I just enjoyed singing with attitude, singing about being a strong woman,” Twain said. “It’s just part of my personality, it really is my genuine personality, I have my point of view, I want to get it across, I expect to get it across, but I’m not out to piss anybody off in the process.”