Emerging in the mid-'90s, Shania Twain became the most popular country music artist since Garth Brooks. Skillfully fusing mainstream, AOR rock production with country-pop, Twain and her producer/husband, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, created a commercial juggernaut with her second album, The Woman in Me. The record became a multi-platinum phenomenon, peaking at number five on the pop charts and eventually selling over nine million copies in America alone. Twain might have sold a lot of records, but like other mega-selling acts before her, she earned few good reviews -- most critics accused her of diluting country with bland, anthemic hard rock techniques and shamelessly selling her records with sexy videos. Fans ignored such complaints, mainly because her audience was comprised of many listeners who had grown accustomed to such marketing strategies by constant exposure to MTV. And Twain, in many ways, was the first country artist to fully exploit MTV's style. She created a sexy, video-oriented image -- she didn't even tour during the year when The Woman in Me was on the top of the country charts -- that appealed not only to the country audience, but also to pop fans. In turn, she became a country music phenomenon.
Twain was born in Windsor, Ontario, and raised in the small, rural town of Timmins, Ontario. As a child, she learned to play guitar at an early age and would spend much of her time singing, writing, and playing. Early on in her musical development, her parents pushed her on-stage, making her perform frequently around their little town; often, she would be pulled out of bed around one in the morning to sing at local bars, since as a child she could only appear in the clubs after they had stopped serving alcohol. In addition to bars, she sang on local radio and television stations and community events. When she was 21 years old, both of her parents died in a car crash, forcing her to take responsibility for her four siblings. In order to pay the bills and keep food on the table, she took a job singing at a resort in Deerhurst. With the money she earned at the resort, she bought a house and had the family settle down.
At the resort, she sang show tunes, from George Gershwin to Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as a little country. Twain stayed there for three years, at the end of which all of her siblings had begun lives of their own. When she was finally independent again, she assembled a demo tape of her songs, and her manager set up a showcase concert in Canada. Twain caught the attention of a few insiders with the concert, and within a few months Mercury Nashville had signed her to their roster. Her eponymous debut album was released in 1993, and although it wasn't a major hit, it performed respectably in the United States, launching two minor hit singles, "What Made You Say That" and "Dance with the One That Brought You"; in Europe, the album was more successful and Country Music Television Europe named her Rising Video Star of the Year.
Shania TwainShortly after the release of Shania Twain, the singer met and fell in love with Robert John "Mutt" Lange, a hard rock producer known for his work with AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner, and the Cars. Lange had been wanting to move into country music for a while, and after hearing Twain's debut album, he decided to get in contact with her with the intention of working on an album. By the end of the year, the pair had married and begun working on her second record. The two either wrote or co-wrote the material that eventually formed The Woman in Me.