Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | 1:55 a.m.
Shania Twain, the best-selling female country music artist of all time, has committed to a 120-show run starting late next year at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. What her fans likely don’t know is that when the singer came to Las Vegas last fall to check out the venue, she couldn’t make an immediate decision because of a next-day visit to doctors treating her vocal problems. Twain admitted that she’d arrived in Las Vegas overwhelmed and scared, but after watching Cher’s show at the Colosseum, she was dancing while exiting the theater.
Twain last released an album in 2002. Her most recent stage performances were in 2003. Her emotional journey of return from hiatus began a year ago and followed the turmoil surrounding her divorce from producer Robert “Mutt” Lang.
Her first show at Caesars, Dec. 1, 2012, coincides with the National Finals Rodeo.
After the announcement last week of her Strip residency and before her appearance that evening on the Country Music Television Music Awards in Nashville, Tenn., the singer-songwriter gave an exclusive interview to Robin Leach, a journalist for more than 50 years, the past 10 of which he has spent covering Las Vegas.
Here are six highlights from the interview:
When did you make up your mind?
Leach: Last summer you agreed to come to Vegas and watch Cher. Two months later, you walked all alone in the Colosseum after seeing her perform the night before.
The following day, you went up on the roof of Caesars to shoot for (Oprah Winfrey’s) network. When you left Vegas after that trip, had you made up your mind (about the residency) then, or was it dependent on seeing the vocal doctors the next day?
Twain: It was totally dependent on the doctor because that was the key to me ever singing again ... I felt really good walking in there ... Dysphonia, (a disorder making it difficult to produce vocal sounds from an enfeebled voice) is not a singing problem. It’s a voice box issue in the muscle of the voice, very different from having a nodule on the vocal cords, which I’ve never had. It needs a long renewal time, and even today, I am still addressing it. You have to go through the entire recovery process. So once I visited the doctors after I left Vegas, I was more confident.
Saying yes to the shows
Leach: How long did it take before you said yes to yourself — in your mind?
Twain: I probably wouldn’t have gone to the Colosseum had I not known that that’s what I wanted. I asked myself if I was confident in myself to do this while on the Vegas trip. I wasn’t. But making the announcement is both therapeutic for me and my voice. A tremendous medicine. Very meaningful ... It’s been a healing year. I am now in a very happy place. I am genuinely excited about coming to Vegas to perform the show ... My voice is stronger today than ever ... I wish I could get started tomorrow.
'Bad to appreciate the good'
Leach: I don’t want to dwell on the ugly journey of the broken marriage, the shock of discovering your husband is having an affair with your best friend and the divorce. Do you think you really had to go to the very bottom to get back to the very top and appreciate it?
Twain: I think the contrast is necessary to appreciate both. You have to have the bad to appreciate the good. I’m always grateful for that part of the bad ... I think you learn to appreciate the simpler things whenever you come out of a difficult time. I thought I never wanted to find love again. I didn’t want to. But now I have, and it’s become very beautiful.
Plans for December 2012
Leach: Walk me through to December 2012. Where do you think the calendar is at this point in terms of creating the show and then rehearsals and then coming to Vegas?
Twain: I’m going to spend the summer homing in on who’s going to produce it. Now my imagination is really going to go wild, and I’m going to let myself dream a little bit, and what would be the most fun and the most fulfilling artistically for me, knowing that this is much less limited than any touring show.
I will be working on a new record, as well. Then the fall and winter will be spent doing preproduction for a couple of months, and then we’ll go into genuine production, and then I would like three months for rehearsals.
Rehearsals in the Bahamas
Leach: Does that mean a lot of it you will do from home in the Bahamas and then you will come to Vegas for rehearsals?
Twain: I would like to do a lot of the rehearsals in the Bahamas — certainly the preliminary stuff, musical arranging, a lot of the production on paper, mechanical meetings, all of that stuff. I’d rather just stay there as much as I can because I have my son, Eja, who is 10. I really don’t want to be away from him. That was a big reason to go to Vegas, too, they’re so accommodating in that way. He’s friends with Celine Dion’s son. They’ve played together.
'Thrilled to share my music'
Leach: So to describe you at this moment as happy would be an understatement?
Twain: Happy would be at the center of it all. It would be surrounded by everything, life itself, the growth, the healing, all of the other things. There is so much going on right now. I guess happy is a very good way of summarizing it. To find myself poised to play at the Colosseum is truly magical. It’s an iconic location with unmatched energy. I’m excited to bring my pop-country spin to the city. People from all over the world travel to Las Vegas, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my music again with a global audience. This is a dream for any performing artist. What more could I ask for?