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Shania Twain Q+A: Caesars Palace superstar talks new songs and album, rap music, Las Vegas residency — and more

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain arrives at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 19, 2013.

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Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain arrives at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, May 19, 2013.

Shania Twain: ‘Still the One’ Opening Night

Opening night of Shania Twain's Launch slideshow »

Canadian country pop superstar Shania Twain took on the role of a redheaded Grecian goddess when she wore a stunning strapless, bare-shouldered, cleavage-baring silver gown for her 2013 Billboard Music Awards appearances Sunday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Shania was the first presenter for Rap Artist of the Year. Her new, fiery look set the tone for the spectacular 3-hour show. Fellow Caesars Palace superstar singer headliner Celine Dion book ended the top-rated ABC special.

Shania, 47, dazzled with glittering identical bracelets on both arms, matching earrings and a metallic purse. The dress had a bondage-styled top that draped down into a mermaid’s tail of flowing fabric.

When she returned to her Colosseum showroom last week to resume the second run of her two-year residency through June 1, I had a long and exclusive chat with her. Since she doesn’t return until mid-October and performs through mid-December, Shania revealed that she’ll be working on her next album and is already writing songs playing on a guitar in her hotel suite.

Are you enjoying your new half-a-year-home in Las Vegas?

I’m enjoying it a lot; it’s wonderful. Definitely more than I thought. We looked forward to coming back; it’s great! When we get here, we’re happy to see everyone; it’s beyond what I expected in a lot of ways.

Now you are going to wonder why you waited so long to get back onstage singing.

I guess there’s a time for everything. Last night was a great first night back — a really great night; we had a lot of fun. It was super! It’s just going so well, I’m having a lot of fun. More fun than I think I’ve ever had onstage, to be honest, in a very different way than I’ve had before in regular touring concerts. I don’t know; I’m just loving it. I love the fans, I’m appreciating it. Maybe that’s a better word; I’m appreciating what’s going on more than I probably ever have. I’m more rested; I’m taking it in more than I ever did.

Were there any changes to the show last night from what you did on the first go round?

It’s just still so early in the shows, I’m not planning on a lot of changes for a while. There’s always subtle things, the show evolves; I think it will continue to evolve all the time. I do have a different white horse in the show already, sadly, because the first horse, Alcazar, got very sick in the stables here while I was back home in the Bahamas on the first break.

He passed away, which was really tragic and really stressful on all of us. So we started this second leg with a new horse, Risente, another Andalusion, and he did really well. He even bows when I’m on him, which is really lovely. There are always new things that are subtle and naturally evolve.

So you were back in the Bahamas resting after the first set of Caesars concerts?

This was a really short break, and I actually damaged a muscle during the last visit, so I had to repair that. I wasn’t able to do a lot of my usual tennis fitness and that sort of stuff, so I did more resting physically than I’m used to or that I wanted to. I was just walking here in Las Vegas when I damaged it — doing nothing, just walking. It was just a fluke, so I was forced to rest and not really do much of anything. I actually got more rest than I wanted to.

I’m completely better now. It feels great, and it felt great in the show last night. I’ve got to be careful; I don’t want to re-injure it. I have a really good long break after this stretch, and I’ll be back to normal after that. For this one, I’m perfectly fine; I was actually pretty surprised.

Returning to the stage and singing again after so many years away, what has this taught you, and what are you going to change about what you are doing? Are you going back in the studio for a new album? Are you going to travel with some shows? Has the bug bitten you all over again?

That’s a good way to put it. I think I’m enjoying the performance part of it more than I ever have, and I can see myself carrying on doing that in some capacity for longer than maybe I expected — considering the fact that I thought I would never get back up onstage again. So there’s a realization there that I’ve obviously proven to myself that I can do it, which took a lot of courage in the beginning; taking on the challenge of proving that to myself because it was a complete unknown, but that challenge is over now.

I’m feeling a lot of relief and with that relief I feel refreshed about it and enjoying it. Now, would I ever go back on the road again? I don’t know. It’s so great, this stationary environment, and if I did go back on the road again, I don’t know if I would go in with a large production. I’ve been a bit spoiled now you know being here in The Colosseum with just the state-of-the-art everything you can imagine as a performing artist. So would I ever try to take that on the road again? I don't know.

Shania Twain Press Conference at Caesars

Fashion designer Marc Bouwer (in suit and tie), singer Shania Twain and director Raj Kapoor (suit, no tie) attend a press conference at Caesars Palace on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Launch slideshow »

I don’t know if I’d have the courage for that. Would I go out with a smaller production? Maybe, do something more intimate that’s musically indulgent. I’d probably consider that and just really enjoy the musicality of it. I don’t know if a lot of people would go to something like that, but it wouldn’t really matter. It would be more about what is bringing me pleasure out onstage to entertain the audience. So I am thinking about those things.

Recording? Yeah, for sure, I really do want to record again; I look forward to that. The last time I was here, I had a great suite in the hotel with a grand piano and that was very inspiring, so I took advantage of that and just started doodling around with more music, original music. This time around, I don’t have a piano, so I gotta get my guitar up here.

I love writing; I’ve always loved writing. I never moved away from that. I’ve got stuff to get back in the studio with, and I think that once I’m more settled here and I have a few more legs under me, I would consider meeting with some producers and kick out another album seriously.

What have you been able to do and enjoy in Las Vegas without being spotted?

I do get out and around; I walk around quite a bit. Right now, it’s really hot, so I’m not outside a lot. I might ride the horses early in the morning; I don’t think anyone is going to spot me doing that out in the boonies. I’m spotted pretty much everywhere that I go, but people are cool and easygoing about it. I finally got to Twain Avenue, and I’ve crossed it many times while out in the car!

Are you getting involved with Andre Agassi’s school program while you are here for the “Still the One” shows?

I haven’t physically gone out there yet. My son is inspired by his soccer coach, who has a kids football program, so the idea is to bring that program to the school and get that going and also the Shania Kids Can work we do. That’s how it all started, thinking about how to get involved with the kids locally in Las Vegas on a charitable level. When we heard about Agassi’s school, we thought, wow, this is really a perfect scenario.

Shania Kids Can is all about tapping into existing schools, not necessarily schools like Agassi’s; regular public schools, primary schools, we’re targeting primary children age and bringing that program to schools in all of North America. This is where Agassi’s school gets really interesting for the program that we’re running, and that’s what is all in the works at the moment.

You seem a lot more comfortable and confident this time around?

Shania Twain Arrives at Caesars Palace

Shania Twain arrives horseback at Caesars Palace on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Things are just great. I always get stressed before I have to come back to Las Vegas. The first time was the most stressful, of course, the opening leg. I’m always just a little bit nervous coming back thinking, OK, it’s like I’ve got to get ready each time, which is very different from regular touring because regular touring, you put the show together, you go out for however many months, and that’s what you do for that year. You’re just doing that, you’re not stopping for a month or two months or three months and then having to gear back up again.

With Las Vegas, I have to gear back up every time, so it’s bit of anxiety because it’s like, OK, do I remember what I’m doing. It seems like such an eternity to be away from the stage even for a week, to be honest, and I’ve always felt that way. I never liked it when we had breaks because I just felt like I got out of my groove a little bit. I have to gear back up every time, but this time, I fell back into it so well. I’m really pleased with myself!

Is anxiety a little bit of a burden you carry?

Yes, it is. I just want to be good, I want to do well; I want to be my best, and I want people to be happy. I take it very seriously. I make it a serious responsibility, maybe so much that sometimes it gets in the way, but this time around I did well. I slipped into it again a lot more easily than I expected, so now I feel like I’m over that hurdle.

Maybe no more anxiety?

Maybe it’s going to be just fine from now on. It will, actually, I’m quite certain of that. It really proved that to me this time. I just walked right into it, and I was fine and had a lot of fun last night. It kicked off really well, and that sets the tone for the rest of this visit. Then I get the really long break. I’ll get back to songwriting and start thinking about what the next step is going to be. It gives me the space to do that.

And if Caesars and AEG said to you: “Shania, we have to sit down and talk about extending past the second year,” you would say?

I would say yes because it’s just so great, it’s too fun, and I’m enjoying it. I can’t complain, it really is. I knew it was going to be a dream scenario, but I didn’t realize it would be as fun as it is. Being really honest, I didn’t think I would settle into it so comfortably. There are surprises every night. I made the show, and I built spontaneity into it.

It sounds sort of ironic to say that when I was being anxious. But I made sure there was room for spontaneity and for the audience and me to have personality — that’s what makes it fun for me every night. I never know what’s going to happen, I never know who I’m going to meet, and the animals have a personality of their own; there’s so much room for evolution in the show, as well, just because of that. It keeps it exciting.

Whoever would have expected to see you again at the Billboard Awards as a presenter — and of all things the rap award? That’s a switch!

I know, I love it! I love rap, so it’s really going to be fun for me. You just never know if that might be on the next record. Sometimes, actually, the contrast works really well. I just love listening to rap is what I meant. I love a lot of what the artists are doing; what they’re saying. We all listen to rap around my house.

The rapping Shania Twain. Welcome home again. We’re thrilled to have you back at Caesars.

Super! Thanks so much!

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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