Shania Twain has been a lover of music practically since she could speak. As a child growing up in Canada, the future country music superstar would perform in bars and other venues under the supervision of her mother. Twain admitted that her mother likely first recognized her true talent for music not when she would sing, but when they would ride in the car with her other siblings.
Shania Twain loved music as a child
Twain looked back on her road to stardom from childhood in her 2022 Netflix documentary Not Just a Girl. She reminisced on driving in the car with her siblings and her parents, and how it was an indication that she was meant for something greater with music.
“I was kind of a radio channel hog,” she admitted, chuckling. “I was always the one that was changing the channel, finding music that I thought we should listen to in the car. I would always go for the harmonies just constantly singing along.”
“I think that’s probably where my mother would have recognized that I had a different ear for music than just the average kid,” she continued. “She thought I should develop it and become a little singer.”
Her mother began taking her out to restaurants — and later, bars — to perform for whoever would listen. “At the age of three my mom would put me up on the counter tops and I would sing for the people in the restaurant, sing along with the jukebox. Pretty much anywhere that my mother could find an audience, that’s where she brought me to sing,” she laughed. “It was my mother’s dream for me to become a professional singer.”
Her love for music continued into high school, where she played the trumpet in her school band.
She had a tough upbringing
While Twain had a natural talent for music, she also gravitated toward the art form as an escape from her daily life. For Twain, it helped her get away from some of the tumult at home.
“Growing up in a violent household was horrible,” she said. “But I locked myself away with music to block out everything else so that all I could see, hear, think, and imagine was music.” She began to put pressure on herself to make it in the industry as a way of helping her family.
In 1987 at the age of 22, Twain and her siblings suffered an unimaginable tragedy when both their parents died in a car crash. Twain was left to take care of her younger siblings, and was close to giving up on her music dreams altogether. “At the time I just really wanted to quit and get a real job,” she said. “I’ve got kids now; I’ve got kids to support. How am I going to do it?”
She sang at a resort in Canada to pay the bills
To take care of her family, Twain began working as a singer in productions at a resort in Canada. Pursuing her dreams, even if in small shows at an Ontario resort, paid well in addition to giving her a stage to perform.
“It turned out that live performing was going to pay better, even at this level, at that little level, than working a regular day job,” she said.
“It was pretty decent-paying,” she added. “I was able to support my brothers. I was able to make enough money to put food on the table singing at this resort.”