Country-pop queen Shania Twain’s journey from darkness leads to celebration

Tribune Content Agency

ST. LOUIS — After reigning for years as the queen of country pop — with her share of Grammys and CMA Awards, chart-topping albums and singles, and sold-out tours — Shania Twain reached a point where she didn’t know whether she would sing again.

If she did, what would she sound like?

After a long-ago tick bite resulted in Lyme disease and damaged her vocal cords, Twain underwent open-throat surgery in 2018. The operation was successful, but COVID-19 nearly took her life.

Twain is flourishing once again. Her new album, “Queen of Me,” features “Giddy Up!” and “Waking Up Dreaming.” Her “Queen of Me Tour” visits Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on June 4.

Today, the superstar is “all about celebrating coming out of a very dark time — my own personal dark time. Those were difficult times for me personally, so I’m celebrating double-fold. It’s a real celebration of singing loud and singing with freedom — just rejoicing over the fact I can sing and express my music and emotions.”

Her new album represents her journey of finding happiness.

“I’m taking control of my mood, my mind, during a dark time, using my songwriting basically as my therapy to say its time to cheer up,” Twain says. “I spent time thinking of things that were cheerful and joyful. I was writing things that were inspiring, uplifting, and my excitement is to share that at the end.”

“Giddy Up!” is one of the songs she wrote to celebrate the good times ahead.

“It was during COVID, and I thought about ‘When was the last time you felt giddy?’”

“Inhale/Exhale Air” references her experience with COVID.

“It wasn’t just about coming out of COVID — it was about being in COVID and not knowing when I’m going to come out of it,” she says. “We were all experiencing something scary. I wrote ‘Inhale/ Exhale Air’ while in the hospital. You’re there with less and less air capacity every day in your lungs. I just started thinking about joyful things.”

Twain recently released a deluxe version of “Queen of Me,” dubbed the “Royal Edition,” that includes a remix of “Giddy Up!,” an acoustic version of the title track and a version of “Inhale/Exhale Air” featuring Breland.

“I’ve been wanting to sing with Breland — have a duet,” she says. “When I first heard him, I was impressed by his voice. It’s an incredible, incredible voice. I started singing with him before the tour. We’re getting more and more connected all the time.”

The expanded version also includes “Bone Dry,” which Twain says she had been wanting to share for a while.

“It’s a very deep song — probably the deepest song I’ve ever written about struggles,” she says. “You have to listen to it. It’s hard to explain. Maybe listen for yourself and draw your own conclusion.”

Twain says it’s exciting to be back on the road for her first tour since “Now Tour” in 2018. Fans can expect to hear her many classics, which include “I’m Gonna Getcha Good,” “You’re Still the One,” “Any Man of Mine,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” along with a handful of songs from “Queen of Me” and songs that have never been taken out on the road before.

“It’s just a great variety — probably the greatest variety ever,” she says. “I’m going to fit in as many songs as I can. The songs will change as the tour progresses. It’s wonderful having a long career and a luxury to have so many songs I know people want to hear.”

The new songs work perfectly in the show because “the album is so energizing and upbeat and very sing-along.”

She’s more hands-on with this tour than ever before, immersing herself in everything from lighting and stage design to band member selection and wardrobe choices.

“It was a lot of fun, and I burned a lot of energy,” Twain says. “A lot of it is adrenaline. The idea is to keep it flowing and I’m jazzed up by that. My goal is always to put on the best show I can.”

Before her latest tour and album, Twain was the subject of the Netflix documentary “Not Just a Girl,” which focused on her life and career.

“It was quite a journey,” she says. “I enjoyed it and laughed and smiled a lot. It made me feel good inside, made me feel triumphant and laugh at myself. It was a joy to watch it back.

“It feels good to still be standing and feeling so good.”