Don’t call her a reality star.
If there’s one thing Shania Twain wants people to understand about her new series for OWN, it’s that it’s a true docu-series, and not a scripted reality anything. After a highly traumatic betrayal involving an affair between then husband (as well as producer and professional partner) Mutt Lange and her best friend, and through the subsequent rather public divorce, Twain suffered a disconnect between herself and the voice that has sold millions of records around the world. It’s been years since her public has seen or heard anything new from her, and in an effort to get back her voice, Twain boarded a bus with several treasured friends, her sister Carrie Ann and her cameraman/new husband, Fred, and went on a healing journey to confront the past that seemed to be robbing her of her present and future. The results are documented in Why Not? With Shania Twain, premiering on OWN May 8. We talked with Twain to ask the “why” question that prompts the title, as well as to find out something about her plans and how they’re progressing.
What made you decide to go through something so private so publicly, especially something so potentially uncomfortable?
Shania Twain: I’m going through the experience anyway, of this stage of my life. And I’m sharing it with the public — the experience itself — then I’m also sharing what I’m doing about what I’m going through. The purpose of that is to inspire others. You know, why keep it to myself? What good is that going to do anyone else?
On another level, it’s also just because it is uncomfortable and unusual for me to do, and risky for myself emotionally in a lot of ways. But I have to push myself a little bit. I just feel like I need to go through a phase of forcing myself to do a few things that are uncomfortable and stop shying away from everything until I find a balance.
It’s been a few years since the affair and divorce now — has doing this series made it any easier to talk about? Have you processed it enough at this point?
That is why I went on this journey in the first place — to accelerate the process of healing. I was getting very impatient with myself, upset with myself that I was still angry after months, and then even a couple of years — I wasn’t getting over it as quickly as I wanted to. And I needed to address that on many levels. … Divorce is a very devastating thing, and I really underestimated it, to be honest. I think I just expected myself to be over it a lot faster than I was, and I really did underestimate the effects that it could have.
That had to be really hard, both at the time and to work through.
I really feel for people who are in a situation like that. It’s pretty devastating, so I thought it was important to share it, and to shed some light on it for anybody who might benefit as well, and also to encourage people to get over it — in their own time. I’m not saying rush yourself — I couldn’t rush it. But I did feel that it was necessary to be proactive about addressing it, and of course, again, that was all the point of being on tour with it and exposing myself more to it — like I said, hopefully it accelerated the process a little bit. And it did — it did do that for me.
But I’ll bet you never expected to end up married to your onetime friend’s ex-husband.
No, never! Never, never, never. In a way, it’s so funny how things have a way of balancing. As shocking and as surprising as the way my marriage ended was, it was balanced out by how surprising and shocking it was that Fred and I would find each other. … The unlikelihood of it is [that] we were compatible. That was what started it all.
We could have opened with this question, but … how are you doing?
I’m doing a lot better. Vocally, I’m still inconsistent. I can’t rely on it yet. But I have a plan, and I’m very confident that I will step back on the stage again and enjoy it, and not be afraid of it. And that’s my goal, really, to be honest.
So you’re not quite ready to get back on the road again?
I think it’s still a ways away. What I can tell you is that I’m ready to get on that train again, and I’ve written a lot of music now, in the last while, that I’m so excited about. I’m way less afraid now of the process of putting the music together. … I met up with David Foster and we worked together on the song. We worked together on the arrangements, and then I got together with Nathan Chapman. So I just feel like that scary “first date” is over and I feel better now. So I’m on that road, for sure, to new music, and I’m actually excited about it.