American Icon: Shania Twain

Shania Twain on

"It’s important to give it all you can while you have the chance" - Shania Twain.

While life happens, you must learn to flow with the current and to make the best of the opportunities that life puts your way small or big. When all is said and done, what is meant to be will be, however long it takes.  Shania Twain serves as a great example of an individual who has braved the cold of discomfort and made the most of the opportunities life has presented to her.

Shania Twain is a Canadian singer and songwriter who has since earned herself the title “Queen of Country Pop”. Her success has seen her sell out 100 million records making her the bestselling female artist in the history of country music and among the bestselling music artists of all time. She rose to fame in 1995 after her album The Woman in Me brought her widespread success, selling over 20 million copies worldwide. Twain is a proud winner of five Grammy awards, and is one of the stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and on Canada’s Walk of Fame. She is the only artist in the history of the world to have three consecutive albums certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).


Like many children around the world, Twain had a rough start at life. Her childhood wasn’t all glam and sunny as it might seem today. Twain was born Eileen Regina Edwards in Windsor, Ontario, on August 28, 1965, the daughter of Sharon and Clarence Edwards. She has two sisters, Carrie Anne and Jill. When she was two, her parents divorced and her mother moved with them to Timmins, Ontario. There, she was married to Jerry Twain who later adopted the girls, legally changing their surname to Twain.

Growing up, Twain’s parents earned little money and food was often scarce in their household. She refrained from confiding with the school authorities for fear the family would be torn apart. Twain had to witness the violence that reigned in the stormy relationship between their mother and her stepfather. Her mother also struggled with depression

In 1979, when the family financially hit rock bottom, Twain insisted that her mum drive them down to a homeless center from where they could get help. Her mum heeded to her plea and drove the family to a Toronto homeless center leaving behind Jerry, Twain’s stepfather. After spending two years in the homeless shelter Twain’s mum reunited with Jerry in Timmins.


From a young age, Twain had a great passion for music. In an Interview with Good Morning America she says, “My deepest passion was music and it helped”.

At the age of eight, she would sing in clubs to help her family with the bills. She earned $20 between midnight and 1 a.m. She confessed that she hated having to sing in bars and hanging out with drunkards till late at night. “But I loved the music and so I survived” she said in an interview with Good Morning America. She acknowledges that her late night bar performances served as a performing arts school on the road, making it possible for her to nature her talent


Twain is not a foreigner to hard work.  In the early 1980’s, she worked with her fathers’ reforestation business in Northern Ontario.  The work was demanding and the pay was low. However Twain says, “I loved the feeling of being stranded. I am not afraid of being in my own environment, being physical, working hard”. She was very strong and could walk miles and miles carrying heavy loads of trees. During this time, she couldn’t use shampoo, scented soap or deodorant.  She simply survived on her creativity and used the tranquil environment in the woods to write songs and sing to her dog.


A year after graduating from high school, Twains’ talent was noticed by Stan Campbell, a Toronto DJ, who wrote about her in a country music News Article: “Eileen possesses a powerful voice with an impressive range. She has the necessary ambition and drive to achieve her goals.”

On November 1, 1987 while living with Mary Bailey, a country music songstress in Kirkland, Twain’s mother and stepfather were involved in a bizarre road accident that resulted in their death. She immediately moved back to Timmins to take care of her younger siblings. Later, she then took them with her to Huntsville, Ontario where she supported them by performing at a nearby resort.

In 1994, Twain got an opportunity, through her manager, to showcase a few of her materials. She impressed a few labels and was signed up by Mercury Nashville Records. It’s at this time that she changed her name to Shania, an Ojibwa word that means “on my way”. And true to her name, she set off on her way to greatness. 

Today, we all know Shania Twain as a famous musician whose music has touched people and healed the world in its own unique way.

Shania’s financial struggles, and huge responsibilities from an early age all point out at her resilience, hard work and desire to succeed. For her determination, unwavering faith and selflessness, American Sunglass would like to call her out as an ICON! Because she is!