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Shania Twain - TV Guide Feature

tvguide cover She started singing in backwoods Canadian bars as an 8-year-old; now she has large chunks of North America (and beyond) singing bars from her music. Shania Twain, 33, is technically a country star-Come On Over is up for the CMA's album of the year award-but her pop chops have also won a massive mainstream audience. Her '95 album, The Woman in Me (produced and cowritten by her husband, rock-music veteran Robert John "Mutt" Lange), has sold more than 10 million copies, double-digit territory previously reached by only three female vocalists: Carole King, Whitney Houston and Alanis Morissette. Twain's sexy yet strong image is also decidedly beyond Nashville: She's post-Madonna, not latter-day Loretta.

TV Guide: Your success selling albums while not performing concerts led to expectations that your first world tour would be a bust, yet it's a critical and financial winner. Do you feel vindicated?

Shania Twain: People thought I was going to be petrified and that it was going to be a disaster. Meanwhile it's the easiest part of anything that I've ever done. The irony is that the studio and the video and the television-all the controlled environments that were very new to me a few years ago-that's the stuff I was most uncomfortable with. When you go up onstage in front of a live audience, the freedom is unbelievable. And when you're on television or in a video or in the studio, you have to achieve communication without communicating. It's so bizarre.

TVG: Is the whole "bare belly button" controversy behind you as well?

ST: I think that the industry seriously underestimated the fans and where they were at. I mean, come on, we have the Internet these days. Watch TV for one hour! The times are very progressive and very free. That's why I don't particularly pay a lot of attention to what the industry is doing. I don't want to be influenced by it, I don't want to know what they consider right and wrong.

TVG: You've struck a chord with young women in particular.

ST: You can't underestimate or fool the fans. They live real lives and they want real music, real thoughts and real words. That's what I try to give them. I like to express to young girls especially that you should feel comfortable with your body. Whether it's an extra roll that you don't like or whatever it is that you don't like about your body, you shouldn't feel that you have to hide it. The best example I can give, because this is what I spent doing in my teens, was I had a girlfriend who was very flat-chested, and she could always go around in T-shirts in the summer and tanks and stuff like that, and I never felt that I could because I was so heavy-chested. I covered myself up, and I never went to the beach. Now that I'm older, I'm thinking, What a waste. People should learn to respect the way you look and who you are. Period. I always try to explain to people that it's not about sex. Sensuality is part of being feminine. If you feel that you want to wear something that's sexy, that doesn't mean that you're looking for sex. People interpret these things way out of whack. And I think that's just a shame.
Mark Lasswell; TV Guide - 1st of 4 collector's covers, Sept 19-25/98 issue


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