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Shania Twain On Starting Over In 'Now'


After a 15-year hiatus, Shania Twain is back.


SHANIA TWAIN: (Singing) I wasn't just broken. I was shattered.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Between her last album and this one, the queen of country-pop crossover went through a painful public divorce. She fell in love and got married. She lost her voice, actually, and had to work to recover it. And now she's turning those experiences into music for the first time.


TWAIN: (Singing) Life's about joy. Life's about pain. It's all and the giving and the will to walk away.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Shania Twain's new album is called "Now." And she joins us from our studios in Culver City. Thank you so much for coming onto the program today.

TWAIN: My pleasure. I'm happy to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: As I mentioned, you were on something of a rollercoaster for the past decade and a half - so many things happening, difficult things, hard things. For some people, that might lead to a creative outpouring. But for you, it kind of led to a period of quiet. Was it just that you were having trouble with your voice, or was there more to it than that?

TWAIN: Twelve years ago, on tour, I got bit by a tick, and I got Lyme disease. So my voice just was gone. The Lyme disease had damaged the nerves that operate your vocal chords sort of like a puppeteer's strings being frayed and not as efficient. So then I had to go through a series of what is really called voice gym. And it's kind of like a vocal Pilates. And it's very intense and kind of silly. You've gotta roll around and do all kinds of strange things while you vocalize. And it's a physiotherapy that I will have to do for the rest of my life in order to maintain what I have at least recovered.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's listen to one of the tracks off the record. This is "Poor Me."


TWAIN: (Singing) Found it in a closet right behind the lies. I wish I never saw it - the secret in his eyes. Poor me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've gone out of your way to say that this is not a divorce album. But there are songs like this one that point to your husband's infidelity - your first husband's - which you've talked about before, and the breakup. Why did you want those songs on the album?

TWAIN: I wanted to run, you know, the full spectrum or share the full spectrum of this experience I've been going through for the last years. And "Poor Me" is the lowest of the divorce...


TWAIN: Blues, yeah - that I was going through, you know, feeling sorry for myself. And I wanted to share that because I really think that there's strength in sharing your downs. It inspires others, maybe. It makes others maybe feel not so alone. And it also is very therapeutic for yourself.


TWAIN: (Singing) I know it should get better. Oh, but it never does. I wish he'd never met her. Then everything would be the way it was.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Has it changed you, that journey? It must've.

TWAIN: It definitely has for sure. There's a lyric on my album that is my favorite lyric on the whole album. And it says, I'm still myself, but I've changed. And it says everything. It's all - I am still myself. But I'm so different and in many ways. And that's a lot. That's a big part of the reason why I called the album "Now," as well, because it's it's me, but it's me now.


TWAIN: (Singing) I'm still myself, but I've changed. Things I always thought were strange aren't that strange at all. All in all.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've said that this may be the purest work you'll ever do.

TWAIN: That's because it's a solo effort on the songwriting part. It's just me alone with my thoughts and my thinking and nobody putting in their ideas and their thoughts and their emotions. So there's nothing watered down about it. It's as pure as it can be.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's different about this distilled Shania Twain?

TWAIN: I'm more comfortable with myself. And that has given me more might to take on challenges that I would've maybe not have had the courage to do earlier on in my life.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell me. Give me an example. I'm so intrigued now.


TWAIN: I mean, first of all, I'm acting now, which...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, that's right. "Broad City." Yes.

TWAIN: "Broad City." And I love that type of humor. I think it's really great. But what I ever have imagined that Shania would, you know, be a part of something like that? I might've been a little, maybe, intimidated by that before. I'm enjoying the leap, the leaps of faith in myself. That's how I would put it.


TWAIN: (Singing) They may say we're done, that we will never win this one.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Shania Twain - her new album is "Now." Thank you so much for joining us.

TWAIN: Thank you.


TWAIN: (Singing) They don't know you, and they don't... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.