Shania Twain Gears Up For a Massive Global Comeback (2002)
Originally published in the November 26, 2002 issue of Country Weekly magazine featuring Shania on the cover.
After an exhausting, nonstop day, Shania Twain finally calls it a night. She changes into her favorite pair of camouflage pants — just right for relaxing — and stretches out on a front-room sofa.
The international superstar has spent most of the day promoting her brand new, hotly anticipated album, Up!, which hits stores November 19. There’s a lot to live up to: Her previous CD, Come On Over, sold 19 million copies, setting a record for female stars.
But here in wind-down mode, Shania’s not thinking about career pressures and demands.
“It just feels good to be home,” she says, letting go a relaxed breath.
And why wouldn’t it? After all, “home” is a 100-room castle in Switzerland with a majestic view of the Swiss Alps. Shania and her husband-producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange moved into the chateau, located in the upscale city of Tour-de-Peilz, three years ago.
“I just love it,” she says. “This is what we consider our permanent home — I don’t see us ever moving.”
Last year, the couple welcomed a new addition to their home, baby son Eja — and now life is sweeter than a mound of Swiss chocolate.
“It’s just been unbelievable,” says Shania about becoming a mom. “I love doing the little things for him, like making his breakfast, singing to him, tucking him in at night. Having a child is just so enriching.”
Luxury is now commonplace for the once-poverty-stricken girl from Timmins, Ontario, Canada. Just outside her castle walls is a postcard-perfect hamlet of five-star eateries and high-class shops.
“This area is known for its incredible restaurants,” says Shania. “Whenever we can, Mutt and I take advantage of them and just go out for a gastronomic delight!
“We also have access to all these fabulous designer stores where you can get Gucci or Armani clothes. It’s a small village — but I have the best shopping I could ever have anywhere!”
“Everything is so beautiful,” adds an awestruck Shania. “We are on Lake Geneva near the base of the Alps — and the view is like one of those picture postcards.”
It’s a fairy tale come true, but Shania strives to maintain a sense of reality. Her happiest moments come with simply being a wife and mom, performing everyday domestic chores.
“We are very hands-on parents,” Shania declares. “We have a nanny for Eja, but only during the day, and sometimes a weekend sitter if I have to work. But we don’t have anyone actually living with us to take care of the baby. Mutt and I spend as much time with him as possible.”
And yes — Shania cooks!
“It’s one of the things I really enjoy,” she says. “For the first few months after Eja was born, I made all of his baby food from scratch. I make dinner most every evening. I’m very careful about what I eat — Mutt and I are both vegetarians — so I’m just more comfortable if I do most of the cooking myself.”
Shania is equally strict about the baby’s diet — unhealthy snacks and sweets are definitely out. There was one notable exception: Eja’s first birthday this past August 12. To mark the occasion, Shania baked her specialty, a double-layer chocolate cake. “That was really his first time to have any kind of unnatural sweets,” Shania says.
She lets go a laugh as she recalls Eja’s reaction to his birthday treat. “We got out a video camera, so we could film him in his little party hat,” Shania recalls. “We were waiting for this great Kodak moment, where he smooshes his face in the cake and it gets all over his hair.
“But he is such a neat and tidy eater! He just touched the cake a little bit, tasted it and decided he didn’t want any more.” She giggles. “So I never got the Kodak moment!”
Shania clearly lives in a picture-perfect world. Here in her small but posh Swiss village, where the natives are used to seeing the rich and famous roam, Shania doesn’t feel like a “star.” Nor is she treated like one — and that suits her fine.
Before she and Mutt made the move to Switzerland, Shania was one of the biggest stars in the world – and feeling the pressures that went along with that role. “I was having a hard time finding peace and solitude,” she admits. “Part of the reason we came here is that the people don’t care about any celebrity. They are very discreet about it, and they pride themselves on that. I find that when I’m home, I can blend in and pretty much forget anything about fame.”
Not that she doesn’t have to dodge a snoopy photographer every now and then. But those occasions are rare. “We don’t live in a main city,” Shania explains, “so we’re really not that accessible. Which is great, because I get to do my daily things with pretty much complete privacy. And that,” she adds emphatically, “definitely could not happen in America.”
Shania’s daily routine has changed slightly, now that she’s a full-time mom. “Before I was pregnant, a typical day would be to get up and go riding,” says Shania, who keeps six horses on her castle property. “Mutt and I would do a lot of hiking and skiing — we’re quite outdoorsy.”
Now a typical day centers on family. After rising early and preparing breakfast, Shania usually saunters into town with Eja right alongside.
“We like to go grocery shopping,” she says. “If it’s nice, we play outdoors for a little bit. We also have a very nice garden with lots of roses, so I tend to that. Sometimes we take Eja on little trips, but mostly we’re at home.”
Shania assures that her home is not a workplace, even though she and Mutt installed a recording studio in the castle. “I find it hard to write or do any serious recording when I’m at home,” she declares. “It’s difficult to concentrate. I’m always thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner or what do I need from the store, things like that.”
Music is a favorite family activity, though. Shania and Mutt delight in watching little Eja react to sounds and rhythms.
“Oh, he gets into it!” Shania reveals. “He loves to dance around when he hears music — he has a very quick response to it. Maybe he has our musical intuition.”
So who does little Eja look like? There’s no mistaking, everyone says, that the baby has his mother’s mouth and eyes. “That’s what I’ve definitely noticed,” Shania says lovingly. “But he’s really such a mixture of both of us. He has his dad’s facial features and his light hair color — Eja’s hair curls up when it gets humid. It’s so cute. He’s also a very tall boy for his age.”
Shania pauses for a few seconds, as she seems overcome with emotion from talking about her son. “You know,” she continues, “what’s really sweet is the connection between Eja and Mutt. When we’re all in the room together, he gravitates to his dad — he doesn’t want to let him go.”
She’ll have to savor these precious times at home as she gears up for a whirlwind year. Up! marks Shania’s first album of new music in five years — and she’s pulling out all the stops to pump up the record.
She kicked off the recent CMA Awards show with her first television performance since 1999, singing the album’s first single, “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” She’ll also be making a wave of appearances on U.S. and Canadian TV programs.
And Shania is planning a full-blown, international concert tour, most likely starting in the fall of 2003. “The tour will be very global,” she notes.
In fact, there are apparently only a few spots on the globe where Shania won’t be stopping. “I want to take the tour all over North America ... and Europe, Asia, India, Australia,” she explains.
But not right away, she says.
“I want to wait a while before I tour, because I’d really like the album to breathe a little. I want the people to be familiar with a lot of songs from the album, not just one or two. I find that you get more of a party atmosphere at the shows when people really know the music.”
Before Shania hits the concert trail, she’ll have to get herself in tour shape. “I’m not real fit right now,” Shania admits. “I have lost my pregnancy weight, but I’m not ready for those high-energy shows just yet. Got to tone those muscles first!”
But that can wait. Right now, as night falls on the Swiss village and Eja is sound asleep, Shania seems content to relax her muscles instead of flexing them.
“My life has become so complete — beyond what I ever imagined — since having a child,” she says. “I think I’m deeper emotionally, and I certainly look at things a lot more reflectively.
“But even with all this around me, I think I still have the mindset of an everyday kind of person. For me, my family is the center of my life, my escape from celebrity — it’s just everything.”