‘It was like A PART OF ME HAD DIED’

Cheated on by her hus­band with her best friend and robbed of her dis­tinc­tive voice, Cana­dian coun­try queen Sha­nia Twain is back from the brink with a new al­bum – and a new man…

Reveal - - Celebs - Michelle Gar­nett Sha­nia Twain’s new al­bum, Now, is out now

In 2004, Sha­nia Twain seemed to have it all. With five Grammy awards and more than 100 mil­lion global record sales, the Man! I Feel Like A

Woman singer ap­peared in­vin­ci­ble.

Her per­sonal life was pretty peachy, too. Mar­ried to leg­endary pro­ducer Robert ‘Mutt’ Lange since 1993, they lived a quiet life when not on the road, bring­ing up their young son, Eja, in Switzer­land.

But, out of the blue, two cat­a­strophic events caused her whole world to come crash­ing down around her in spec­tac­u­lar style, and Sha­nia mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared from the spot­light.

Now, 15 years since the re­lease of her last stu­dio al­bum, Up!, the 52-year-old is back, hav­ing sur­vived a dev­as­tat­ing ill­ness that nearly ended her ca­reer and the ul­ti­mate BFF be­trayal that sub­se­quently wrecked her mar­riage.

Sha­nia was tour­ing Up! in 2004 when she be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence wor­ry­ing symp­toms. Strug­gling to hold a mi­cro­phone be­cause her arms were ‘cramp­ing like crazy’ and plagued by in­som­nia, she was forced to take a break. ‘I was very dizzy. I was ter­ri­fied,’ she re­called, ini­tially blam­ing ex­haus­tion.

The per­former was di­ag­nosed with the tick-borne bac­te­rial ill­ness Lyme dis­ease, which she’d caught af­ter be­ing bit­ten by the in­sect while horse rid­ing. Sha­nia went on to de­velop dys­pho­nia, a vo­cal cord dis­or­der that left her un­able to sing.

‘It was like a part of me had died,’ she later said, de­scrib­ing the grief she felt when told the dam­age was per­ma­nent. ‘I lost a se­ri­ous plea­sure in my life. I be­lieved I would never sing again.’

Four years af­ter the dis­ease struck, at a time when she most needed the sup­port of her spouse, she dis­cov­ered Mutt was hav­ing an af­fair with her best friend, Marie-Anne Thiébaud. Mutt de­nied this, but is with Marie-Anne to this day.

‘For the first week af­ter find­ing out about the af­fair, I was ready to die,’ Sha­nia wrote in her 2011 mem­oir, From

This Mo­ment On. ‘To go to bed for ever and never wake up. I was ready to do some­thing des­per­ate.’

Sink­ing into a deep de­pres­sion, she later said, ‘It was one of the most dev­as­tat­ing things that has ever hap­pened to me.’

But the singer found love again – iron­i­cally, with Marie-Anne’s for­mer hus­band, Frédéric Thiébaud. Hav­ing di­vorced their cheat­ing exes, the cou­ple mar­ried in 2011 on a beach at sun­set.

‘I wasn’t ready to trust again – it took a lot of months,’ she says of Frédéric. ‘But he started to ex­press his love for me – and he was so self­less that I thought, “Wow, that’s such a beau­ti­ful per­son.”’

One con­so­la­tion from her en­forced ca­reer break was that she could spend qual­ity time with Eja, now 16 and a bud­ding mu­sic pro­ducer him­self.

‘Eja has had a very nor­mal child­hood – he wasn’t tu­tored or raised by nan­nies,’

ex­plains Sha­nia, who fo­cused on moth­er­hood dur­ing her dark­est times, ‘bak­ing cake, pack­ing lunches, run­ning back and forth to soc­cer and all that stuff’.

Her de­sire to cre­ate a sta­ble up­bring­ing for Eja no doubt stems from her own tough be­gin­nings. Born Eilleen Regina Ed­wards on Au­gust 28, 1965, she was raised in poverty in a re­mote part of Canada.

En­dur­ing a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with her mum and abu­sive step­fa­ther, she was left reel­ing when, aged 21, they were both killed in a car crash. Sha­nia was left to raise her three younger sib­lings, and would sing to sup­port them.

It would have been easy to give up all those years later when her voice failed her. But, un­able to bear the thought of turn­ing her back on her ‘first love’, mu­sic, Sha­nia en­dured hours of speech ther­apy be­fore book­ing a res­i­dency in Las Ve­gas in 2012, which sparked her de­sire to write again.

Sha­nia and Mutt’s song­writ­ing col­labs had proved a win­ning formula, and the prospect of go­ing it alone was daunt­ing.

But she did, and her new al­bum, Now, is her most per­sonal yet. Sha­nia ad­mits she ‘cried a lot’ dur­ing the mak­ing of it, as she wrote about ‘feel­ing un­ap­pre­ci­ated in my mar­riage and fight­ing back against pain’.

Last month, UK fans were thrilled to see their idol per­form live at the launch of Strictly Come Danc­ing. How­ever Sha­nia was slammed for her ‘dodgy vo­cals’ and ac­cused of mim­ing. ‘I’ll never sing my old hits like I used to,’ she says, re­fer­ring to the ef­fects of Lyme dis­ease. ‘I’ve had to re­learn how to use my voice.’

One thing that hasn’t changed is Sha­nia’s be­witch­ing stage pres­ence. A veg­e­tar­ian for over 20 years, she looks in­cred­i­ble, although ad­mits to putting on weight dur­ing her hia­tus. ‘My body is chang­ing,’ she con­ceded. ‘It’s ac­tu­ally fash­ion­able to have a big­ger butt now!’

And, with a re­newed de­sire to live life to the full, the fu­ture’s look­ing bright.

‘I’ve been through a lot, but I’m in a good place,’ Sha­nia says. ‘I’ve learned that I’m a fighter – I don’t give up.’

Now, that does im­press us much!

The star’s ca­reer was soar­ing in 2004 be­fore her ill­ness struck

Sha­nia won one of her five Gram­mys for the 1999 song Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

Sha­nia with sec­ond hus­band Frédéric Thiébaud Af­ter 15 years out of the lime­light, the singer­song­writer is back with an al­bum about ro­man­tic mis­trust and be­trayal

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