Shania Twain: “I’m Here to Inspire. There Is No Age Limit to That”
As Shania Twain nears her 50th birthday, the Canadian-born singer has been thinking about her image — specifically, how her age shouldn’t have an impact on her own body image or what she chooses to do on stage.
According to Twain, age shouldn’t have anything to do with how an artist — or anyone — expresses herself.
“I don’t think anybody can decide what’s best for you,” she tells Maclean’s magazine. “I think being aware of the consequences of what you are doing is smart. If you can’t live with the consequences of whatever [your performance] brings, then re-think it.
“Art is a platform where self-expression should not be limited. There will be consquences if you do something that is socially unacceptable or inappropriate by certain people, but you just have to live with it,” Twain continues. “Should art be controlled? It would be painful if we started to overregulate self-expression — especially when it has to do with age.
“I’m here to inspire,” she adds. “There is no age limit to that.”
However, Twain does recognize that getting older means having to work harder to maintain her physicality, which can be difficult to come to terms with.
“I’m not 25. I don’t have the body that I had anymore. I want to love where I’m going, but it’s a challenge. It’s an adjustment, so I understand women my age and what they are going through,” she says. “Now I have to work five days a week. Now I have to watch what I eat. Thankfully, I have performing — it has become part of my workout … If I was at an office job, I’d have to go the gym three hours a day to make up for that.”
Another physical challenge the Ontario native has had to deal with is her dysphonia, a disorder that can cause her vocal cords to seize up when speaking or singing. Twain has found a way to tackle the issue with the help of careful set planning.
“I’m concerned with the order of the songs. I had to be very intelligent on how I pace myself — it was all about tonality,” she says. “When I need to refocus the voice, I have to have just the right song. It’s very technical — with dysphonia, it’s about resetting the voice. It’s like dancing; there are certain starting positions to each piece of choreography.”
Twain opened up about her disorder during a six-episode reality TV series on Oprah’s OWN network in 2011. The show followed the process of dealing with her disorder and trying to regain her voice, while also going through the aftermath of her divorce from producer Robert “Mutt” Lange.
“It was awful to watch [the show]. I did that when I was really suffering. It was a terrible time. All the things I had to go through to get here [have been] tough,” she says. “I want to forget about it because it was a real rehabilitation. The prodding and the doctors and the insecurity were bad, but the biggest hurdle was putting my voice to the test — which happened close to showtime in Vegas.
“[The disorder] is something I have that doesn’t go away, but I’ve overcome a lot of the physiological handicaps of it by wearing [an] orthotic in my mouth for over a year,” Twain adds. “I slept with it. It’s like wearing a back brace.”
Now that her successful Las Vegas residency is over, Twain will be putting herself to the test out on her Rock This Country Tour, which is set to begin on June 5 in Seattle, Wash., with dates scheduled through August in the U.S. and Canada.
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