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Shania's other world

There's only one Shania Twain, but she's reaching out to two different worlds -- the North American country music audience that first embraced her, and everyone else on the planet.

Shania's international campaign has required a new look, tinkering with her music, some new duet partners and a lot of hard work.

"My goal is to appeal to as many people as I can," Shania says. "I'm not looking to leave country, but I do want to have more international success. The more people who hear your music the more satisfied you are as an artist."

After conquering North America's country market with The Woman in Me, the best-selling album ever by a female country artist, her combination of country, pop, good looks, sense of fun and personality is taking the rest of the world by storm. "You're Still the One" from Come on Over -- her second straight multiplatinum album -- has become a worldwide smash.

As Shania broadens her audience beyond her original base of country fans in North America, she's making changes both small and substantial. Her music, her look and her marketing have all been changed, to the point that the Shania country fans know in North America is different than the Shania who is being introduced to Europe, Australia and Asia. The international version of her multiplatinum album Come on Over is different -- the steel guitars and fiddles on some of the songs have been pushed into the background. There's a solo version of "From This Moment On," a country duet hit in North America with Bryan White. International fans who pick up the album see a different set of photos on the cover, with a silvery sleeveless gown draped over Shania instead of a red shirt.

It's working.

"She's developing into a big star," says Trevor Smith, who represents the Country Music Association in Australia, where Come on Over hit No. 1 on the charts. "People love her. They've taken to her like a duck to water."

"This has been the year when Shania has really found an audience," says Paul Sexton, a British country music expert who writes for the Times.

The album has a chance to go platinum in the United Kingdom -- an honor achieved there by 300,000 sales. In Holland, fans have bought 20,000 copies of Come on Over, says Karen Holt, the CMA's representative based in The Netherlands. By comparison, Alan Jackson's most recent album sold 8,000 copies. In all, she's sold nearly 6 million copies of Come on Over -- one in four internationally.

"Our marketing strategy for Shania is comparing her to Mariah Carey and those type of artists," says David Lory, vice president of artist development and international marketing for Mercury Records. "We market Shania like a pop star because she is a pop star internationally." Lory says an absence of European country music stations makes it necessary to promote Shania as a pop artist. "They don't have categories broken down in Europe and Australia the way they do here in America or Canada. They don't have country stations or rap stations. On the radio over there you'll hear a rap artist followed by a rock artist, then a pop artist."

To be successful internationally, downplaying the country association is wise, Sexton says. "People still have an old-fashioned view of what country music is," he says. "They still tend to call it country and western, and cling to some of the old caricatures."

Shania's shift toward an international audience also involves releasing a different set of songs as singles. In North America, "Love Gets Me Every Time" and "Don't Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)," came out first. Internationally, "You're Still the One" and "When" were the first two choices. The song "From This Moment On" gave Shania another opportunity.

Bryan White is featured as Shania's duet partner in the North American version of the song, but his part may be sung by others when the international version is released.

Ronan Keating, lead singer of the hit Irish pop group Boyzone, says that he has finished recording a version of "From This Moment On" with Shania. Mercury Records says a duet with the popular Brazilian duo Chitãozinho E Xororó has also been recorded for the Latin and South American market.

"It makes logical sense," says the CMA's Bower. "You're going to get a foothold in any market if you use a domestic artist that already has a level of success."

by Nick Krewen and Tamara Saviano; Country Weekly cover story, Aug 25/98 issue


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