Shania Twain: The Real Reason You Don't Hear From Her Anymore

Shania Twain was one of the biggest music stars of the '90s. Well, actually, to paraphrase one of her hits, she's one of the most successful musicians of forever and for always. After moving to the U.S. from Canada, Twain paired a voice that can only be described as like Karen Carpenter's but happier with a sexy-girl-next-door vibe that transformed and dominated first the world of country music and then pop. (She paved the pay for similar transitions by people like LeAnn Rimes and Taylor Swift.) With her videos a staple on both CMT and VH1 and songs like "Man! I Feel Like a Woman," "Any Man of Mine," "That Don't Impress Me Much," and "You're Still the One," Twain spent the better part of the late '90s as one of the most famous and popular musicians in the world, reportedly selling 48 million albums along the way. 

But then, sometime in the early 2000s, Shania Twain, along with her impressive pipes and frequently photographed abs, ghosted. Here's what the country queen and pop icon has been doing ever since.

She could have done an episode of Cheaters

In 1998, Twain had the biggest hit of her life with "You're Still the One," an ode to lifelong monogamy. Twain wrote that timeless love song, which you will hear at every wedding until the end of the time, with her frequent songwriting partner and producer Robert "Mutt" Lange — she also wrote it about him because they were married at the time. But that song is tainted now, and Twain can no longer boast "looks like we made it," because they didn't. In May 2008, Twain and Lange announced their  separation

So what went wrong? Did fame carve a wedge between the superstar and the man behind the curtain? Nope. It looks like Lange had an affair with a woman named Marie-Ann Thiébaud, his assistant ... and Twain's best friend. (Twain says she'd even confided in Thiébaud her suspicion that her husband was having an affair.) 

In her book From This Moment On (via the Daily Mail), Twain said the discovery shook her to her core, and, in a low moment, she wrote an email to her husband's new lady begging for him back. 

Twain didn't get the dog named Mutt back. In a round of "Plead the Fifth" on a 2015 episode of Watch What Happens Live, host Andy Cohen asked her what she'd say to Thiébaud if given the chance. As she'd already "pleaded the fifth," Twain had to answer, and answer she did: "I wish I'd never met you." 

She could have done an episode of Wife Swap

Twain's divorce from Mutt Lange was finalized in 2010. Happily, Twain found love again ... and she didn't have to look very far to find it, or at least not very far past where her first marriage fell apart. "In the last two and a half years of adjusting to life after separation and divorce, I needed to lean on others more often than I was accustomed to. These people have been gifts," Twain wrote in a letter to her fans on her website in December 2010 (via People). A message of love for sure, but she had more to say about one person in particular who lifted her up. 

"I am excited to share some personal news with you; I'm in love!" Twain proclaimed. "Frédéric Nicolas Thiébaud has been a true gift to me as a compassionate, understanding friend and over time, an amazing love has blossomed from this precious friendship." 

Does the name "Thiébaud" sound familiar? It should because it's the same last name as Twain's best friend that helped break up her marriage. As Lange had cheated on Twain, Marie-Ann Thiébaud can cheated on her husband, Frédéric. And hey, he's still the one: Twain and Thiébaud got married in Puerto Rico on New Year's Day, 2011, and have stayed together since.

She literally couldn't sing anymore

One major reason why Twain didn't tour for a while or record an album for more than a decade is both understandable and horrifying. Sometime in the early 2000s, Twain was bit by a tick, and she contracted Lyme disease, a complicated, difficult-to-diagnose medical condition that can lead to serious physical and neurological problems, or worse (via The Guardian). "It can kill you. And if it doesn't kill you, it can give you a seriously degenerated quality of life for the rest of your life," Twain told the Associated Press

The way the disease affected Twain is about the worst way it could have manifested, short of death: It led to dysphonia, a.k.a. vocal cord paralysis, causing an inability to sing. "I was too embarrassed to tell anybody that I couldn't sing," Twain said to The Guardian. "For a long time, I didn't even know why I couldn't sing." Twain underwent extensive therapy (including physical rehabilitation, re-learning to sing with vocal coaches, and breath training) and eventually had to endure a laryngoplasty, a surgical reconstruction of the voice box in order to perform again.

She went to Vegas, baby

When a musician isn't quite the hitmaker they once were but they're still relatively young and have enough fans and name recognition to consistently pull in at least a medium-sized crowd, their best, and potentially most lucrative and long-term option, is a Las Vegas residency. Everyone from Elvis Presley to Mariah Carey have done it, spending months or even years playing at the same well-appointed casino theater every night. Instead of the star having to schlepp from city to city and arena to arena, the fans come to the performer and happily drop a few hundred bucks on tickets and souvenirs. This was an unbeatable option to Shania Twain, who played her hit songs to adoring tourists in Sin City for a very long time. Her residency show, "Shania: Still the One," lasted two years at Caesar's Palace, from 2012 to 2014, and she enjoyed it so much that she considered signing on for another extra-long non-tour of duty. (As well she should have — in 2016, a year in which she didn't release any new music, Twain landed on Forbes' list of the highest-paid country music entertainers with an income of $27.5 million.)

Her last album didn't impress much

More than 20 million people purchased Twain's 1997 album Come On Over, making it the eighth best-selling album in American history (tied with Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Twain's 1995 release The Woman in Me sold an also stellar 12 million, and Up!, which would turn out to be her last album for 15 years, moved 11 million units.

Now, not even superstars sell that many records anymore; the rise of music streaming services and the death of physical media have significantly cut into sales figures. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the only act since 2010 to sell more than 10 million copies of more than one album is Adele. Still, it's shocking that someone on Twain's level couldn't generate blockbuster interest in a new record, particularly since she hadn't actually released an album since 2002. During its first week on the charts in October 2017, Now sold a respectable 137,000 copies ... and the next week sold a mere 15,000. As of April 2018, total sales of Now totaled a meager 222,000 or so, the worst-selling record of her career by far.

Perhaps fans weren't interested because Now doesn't sound much like her old albums, caused by a change in behind-the-scenes personnel. Twain's perfect blend of country and pop were the result of a collaboration with her husband, Robert "Mutt" Lange. Twain is definitely not working with him anymore, on account of how he cheated on her and they got divorced.

Shania Twain smells

While Twain isn't quite at the top of the charts anymore, her past successes have made her forever a household name to people now in their 30s, 40s, and 50s ... and those people buy lots of stuff. Twain's name can move merchandise, and, in particular, it would seem, merchandise that can give people and their homes a pleasant aroma. Like fellow iconic celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, and Beyoncé, Twain also has her own line of signature fragrances. In 2005, Shania partnered with Stetson for Shania by Stetson, a fragrance evocative of grapefruit, nectarine, and starfruit with just a hint of sandalwood and honeysuckle. Four years later, Twain re-teamed with Stetson to unleash Shania Starlight. What does it smell like? Well, according to the press release, it ought to remind the nose of "the allure of the red carpet, bottled," or, more specifically, freesia, jasmine, amber, and mandarin. 

But what's out there for Shania Twain fans who want to associate their favorite singer with smells but who don't consider themselves a "perfume person"? There's Shania's Wishes for Spring, a specially formulated and branded flavor in the Febreze Scentstories disc-based air freshener line. (It was all for charity, though — Febreze manufacturer Procter & Gamble donated $100,000 to hunger-fighting charity Second Harvest, one of Twain's favorites, on her behalf.)

Man! She feels like an actress

Singing a song is a kind of acting — performers have to feel, or at least pretend to feel, the emotion of the lyrics to properly sell it to the audience. Plus, most pop and rock stars are good-looking, so it makes perfect sense why so many famous musicians give acting a shot. Shania Twain has joined the ranks of singers-turned-actors, but only time will tell if her career goes in the direction of Mariah Carey (a Razzie winner for Glitter) or Will Smith (an Oscar nominee for Ali). In 2017, she guest-starred on Comedy Central's white-hot comedy Broad City. Main character Abbi (Abbi Jacobson) works at a pretentious New York gym, and she gets the opportunity to train Twain, who plays an exaggerated version of herself. 

Also in 2017, Twain landed a major role in the upcoming action drama Trading Paint. It's about a family of feuding race car drivers, and John Travolta and Toby Sebastian (Game of Thrones) round out the cast.

She's getting really real (for real)

Reality TV requires a constant stream of warm bodies and attractive faces to keep itself alive. Twain has kept quite busy appearing on these nonfiction television programs and reminding audiences that she still exists. In 2017, Twain served as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars, and while there, happened to perform "Soldier," a track off of her album Now. In 2018, Twain was a guest judge on the tenth season of the funnest reality show on TV, RuPaul's Drag Race.

The USA Network announced in April 2018 that Twain would co-host (with singer Jake Owen) a new talent competition show called Real Country. It will pit solo acts, duos, and groups against each other in performance showcases which will highlight "the rich traditions, songs, and themes, of specific country genres." The winners of each showcase will then ultimately compete against each other for the chance to be named the next American Idol ... sorry, The Voice ... sorry, no, the bragging rights of potentially becoming a country music superstar. (Plus they get to meet Shania Twain!)

Twain got political

Hey, this is America, and everybody is entitled to their own opinions and can express those opinions — they just have to be willing to defend or apologize for those thoughts and feelings, because, when the topic is politics, it's inevitably going to get somebody mad. Such is the contentious state of current affairs in 2018.

Shania Twain faced a bit of a PR crisis in April 2018 when, in an interview with The Guardian, the singer said that, had she been able to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election (she couldn't because she's Canadian), she would have voted for Donald Trump. "Even though he was offensive, he seemed honest," Twain said. "I just don't want bulls***. I would have voted for a feeling that it was transparent. And politics has a reputation of not being that, right?" 

Whether you agree with her or not, you've got to admit that Twain's statement was measured and thoughtfully explained — and one that doesn't necessarily express current support for the president — but, nonetheless, response was so negative that Twain later issued an apology on Twitter.