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For her exhaustive, record-breaking Up! Tour, Shania Twain is leaving no country untouched. The excursion began last year in Europe and continues to forge ahead in 2004 at breakneck speed, with stops throughout the United States and Shania's homeland, Canada.
In an age where many stars - especially females - are seeing their concert sales drop, this global superstar is shattering attendance records wherever she performs. And that fact is hardly lost on Shania.
"I'm worried about the music industry in general - it's just so down," she says in a concerned tone. "So we're feeling pretty fortunate. And to be honest, we're actually feeling like we're just getting going."
The pop-country queen reigns supreme, yet she's able to keep much of her life private. That's mainly because she makes her home in Switzerland, with her husband-producer "Mutt" Lange and their son, Eja, who turns three in August. Far away from photographers and celebrity-seekers, Shania is free to step into the roles of wife and mother without distractions.
"I'm always in a family mode," she says sweetly. "I love just being at home and spending time with my son."
And Shania makes sure that it's quality time. "It's tiring, but I make little rules, you know," she explains. "I like to be home every night for bath and bed time, and we always spend our mornings together. We manage to spend more time together than most mums who work eight-to-five get to."
Even on the road, Shania is determined to be a hands-on mom. Eja often travels with Shania and seems to adjust to road life, with mother's help.
"We get to establish a routine," she says. "I don't bring him to the venue too often, because he's usually off doing other things, like swimming or ice skating. But I put him to bed every night. He's been dealing with this life from the time he was born, so this is really second nature to him. He's a good little boy, not a hyper kid at all."
That's a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. "I was always the kind of kid who was happy playing by myself," admits Shania with a laugh. "He's very much like that."
And like Mom, he'll likely become an experienced world traveler. Shania maintains that Switzerland is merely a "permanent temporary" home.
"The world's a big place, and I hope to live in many different countries before the end of my life," she says. "It doesn't really matter where I live - as long as family is there."
-- Bob Paxman