10 Life-changing Takeaways From Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl

Netflix's Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl is an incredible story about loss, passion, perseverance, hard work, and super-stardom. It's an interview-style documentary packed with exclusive archival footage.

Shania opens her heart up about her professional and personal lives. She is an incredible singer-songwriter. So, it's loaded with all her biggest hit songs and is a musical masterpiece from start to finish.

She's one of the hottest country artists ever to rock the country. In addition, Shania pushed the limits with midriff cuts they didn't want to show on CMA. She exudes female empowerment and anti-antagonistic feminism.

A Brief Look at Shania's Background

Shania Twain is a Canadian country superstar who grew up in a small town, Timmins, Ontario. Her biggest musical inspiration and influence is Dolly Parton. She looked up to Dolly and thought, “if she could make it, so could I.”

It was her mother's dream for her to become a successful country singer. So she snuck Shania out of the house to perform after the last call at local bars.

Shania mentions that she always kept 100 songs in her repertoire. Also, she came from a violent household. So she used music as a way of blocking it out.

She met her first manager Mary Bailey traveling on the road, and by the time Shania was 16, she was ready to rock and roll.

Her parents weren't thrilled by the idea, longing instead for their little girl to perform the more traditional style of country music that they loved. “They wanted me to be the next Tanya Tucker, (but) I wanted to rock out, you know.”

Bailey encouraged her to keep writing songs and creating demos – she believed in the young singer and felt that she had more to give – her story wasn't even close to being done. Twain was developing her own voice, stretching out creatively and artistically, finding her songwriting style that became her signature.

There are many valuable lessons everyone can learn from Shania Twain's life experiences. So let's look at the life-changing takeaways featured in her bio-documentary.

1. Life Goes On, but Grief Stays With You

Almost immediately, Shania shares that her parents died in a car accident in 1987. As a result, she became responsible for parenting her three younger siblings overnight. Fortunately, she secured a singing job at Deerhurst Resort that provided enough income to care for them.

Later, Shania reveals that she never got over her parent's death. Speaking as someone who has lost both parents, I can confirm that grief stays with you.

It reminds me of the analogy; grief is like glitter. No matter how hard you work cleaning it up, it's never completely gone. Right? It resurfaces when you least expect it.

Despite her tragedy, Shania raised her siblings, wrote and sang amazing songs, and accomplished super stardom success. The takeaway is that life goes on, and the rest is up to you.

2. Success Comes With Hard Work and Sacrifice

Shania Twain worked hard to get where she is, which is a valuable life lesson. Sure there are rare instances of overnight success.

However, it's not usually the case, and it's certainly not her story. On top of working full-time to support her three siblings, Shania continued writing music and creating demos.

She recalls, “I was busy rehearsing, running the kids back and forth,” she said. “Before and after the show, I would go home and write. There was no other way to get ahead except working my a** off.”

Eventually, she signed her first contract in 1992 and produced a self-titled album. Her single, “What Made You Say That,” peaked at 55 on the U.S. Billboard Music Hot Country Singles.

It also came with a video that was her first creative influence where she felt liberated and free, and it grabbed Mutt Lange's attention. Lange was a record producer and hit songwriter who produced music for AC/DC and Def Leppard, among others.

A romance blossomed, and shortly after they married, he produced her second album, leaning into her country rock sensibilities. They worked together on three consecutive diamond albums. Shania Twain is the only artist to have ever achieved that honor, spanning all genres.

3. Life Isn't Fair

Despite being the number one selling female country artist worldwide, Twain still faced sexism in the workplace. Because unfortunately, women are held to a different standard in country music.

She professes, “You have to work three times as hard as the average guy in country music to get a shot,” Twain elaborates. “To be relentless was the only way.”

Translation? Life isn't fair, but you can still kick a**. Additionally, the media incessantly asked about Mutt's influence on the album rather than acknowledging her hard work and creative vision.

People didn't believe their marriage was authentic, since they exchanged “I Do's” a mere six-months after their first encounter – and much of that time was spent on the phone. The 17-year age gap between the artists didn't help either.

Shania admits “You're Still the One” was written about those circumstances with Lange.

4. Set Goals and Work Towards Them

Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl teaches us the importance of setting and working toward your goals. After Mary Bailey, Shania wanted a superstar manager to help her become a bigger superstar.

She had three goals:

  • First, to crossover to the pop genre.
  • Second, to become an international superstar.
  • Third, to become a top touring artist.

Those are great goals to strive for, and she accomplished them and much more. The takeaway is if you don't set attainable goals and achieve them, you're not living your best life. The extraordinary part is that those goals were achievable.

5. Stand-up for Yourself

For her “Any Man of Mine” music video, Twain shares a story about working with renowned actor/director John Derek. Derek didn't mince words, and would often make disparaging comments that would make women who worked with him cry.

At first, Shania swallowed her ego and pride to get the video despite being insulted. Finally, when Derek insisted she perform in a way she didn't want to in her video, she told him, “No.”

Shania says, “We were nose to nose arguing.” Finally, she insisted, “This is my video and my money.” He eventually complied. Shania expressed respect moving forward, and they became friends. It's a lesson in standing up for yourself.

6. Know When To Listen

Alternatively, know when to listen. For example, can you believe that Shania Twain was apprehensive about releasing “You're Still the One” from her Come On Over studio album? 

She was concerned that it was a slow ballad and slightly feared leading with it. Yet, it is her most successful hit and what crossed her over to pop music. Her Come On Over album became and still is the best-selling country album from a female country star. 

Shania shared that for Come On Over, “the intention was to graduate from domestic to global success.” Out of 16 pop country songs, 12 singles hit the charts.

She successfully crossed genres, became an international sensation, and doubled her fan base to one of the largest worldwide. It is an iconic and timeless album. It's also the ninth all-time best-selling album in the United States.

7. Life Throws You Curve Balls

Shania released her Up! album and performed in 100 arenas globally. However, toward the end of the tour, she began experiencing mini-blackouts and dizzy spells.

In 2004, Twain released the fastest-selling greatest hits album ever by a female artist. But unfortunately, she could only record three new songs for the album due to illness.

Sadly, Twain was bit by an infected tick while horseback riding and got Lyme disease. It left her with a permanently altered voice, and she thought she would never sing again.

Lange left Shania for her best friend. Twain compared Mutt Lange abandoning her to the feelings experienced when losing her parents. Shania never believed she would get over it, but she did.

Now, she's happily married to her former friend's ex-husband, Frédéric Thiébaud. Tell me that's not a curve ball! You got to keep swinging.

8. Take Time To Be a Friend

Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl tells a heartwarming story of a patient and loving Lionel Richie. He invited her to collaborate on “Endless Love” without knowing her circumstances. Shania explains that she repeatedly declined.

However, Richie didn't give up on his pursuit to get her in the studio. He continuously tried to lock down a meeting time and place, and she eventually chose the Bahamas. They recorded the song, and Shania found her confidence again.

She also notes the musicians who encouraged her were David Foster, Michael Bublé, Oprah Winfrey, and Gladys Knight. The latter, she admits, is her favorite female vocalist.

The takeaway is that Richie took time to be a friend, and Shania started singing again. So take time to be that friend when faced with an opportunity.

9. Don't Allow Fear To Control You

Shania discusses having fear about singing with Lionel Richie and returning to the studio without Mutt. However, she didn't allow fear to paralyze or prevent her from growing.

In 2017, she released her new debut album, Now. It debuted at the top of U.S. and Canadian charts and was her first album to reach number one in all major territories. It also got her on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

During the intro to the documentary, Shania expresses, “I believe that every great leader of their own destiny is fearless.”

10. Keep Going

Shania Twain teaches us the importance of the lesson, keep going. Despite having odds stacked against her, she pursued and achieved her goals. 

In the face of adversity, she has overcome trauma, fear, sexism, heartbreak, and devastation. But, she says, “When life knocks you down, you got to get back up again.”

After finding her confidence, she performed in a Concert Residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NevadaShania: Still the One (2012). 

She published her autobiography, From This Moment On (2011). In addition, she's booked her second Las Vegas Residency, Let's Go, at Zappos Theater through September 2022.

Shania Twains' Accolades and Achievements

Shania Twain has several achievements in her musical career, including,

  • She is the genre-crossing trailblazer, paving the way for artists like Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson.
  • Shania became the “Queen of Country Pop.”
  • She is the number one selling female country artist.
  • Shania is one of the number one selling music artists of all time.
  • She is the only artist to have three consecutive diamond records, ever.
  • She has the best-selling album of all time by a female artist in any genre, Come On Over.
  • Shania sold more than 100 million physical copies of her records.
  • She has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Shania has a Star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

Additionally, Shania Twain has won five Grammy Awards, two Country Music Awards, 11 Billboard Music Awards, a World Music Award, and 27 BMI Songwriter Awards.

She also was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

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