Shania Twain performs at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Dec.1, 2012. Singing superstar Twain and the late Saskatchewan curler Sandra Schmirler are among the notable Canadians who will be celebrated with postage stamps in 2014.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eric Jamison/Invision/AP ORG XMIT: CPT105

Still the One: Shania Twain

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Shania Twain stepped off the arena stage 11 years ago and out of the public eye. She retreated to Vegas, where many successful careers go out to pasture. Twain used the two-year residency to reboot, refocus, and reclaim her crown. Turning 50 this year and launching her first North American tour in over a decade, she is ready to unveil Shania 2.0 and prove to everyone that she is still the one.

The tour, which kicks off June 5th, pulls into town July 15th at the Jacksonville Memorial Arena. Twain is thrilled for the opportunity to reunite with her fans and eager to get back on the road where it all started. “This is an exciting time for me. I think the fans and I are going to be reintroduced to each other. A lot has happened over the last decade since I’ve been off tour and out of their lives. Music is bringing us back together, and we’re going to celebrate and reminisce to all of the hits that they know. The most rewarding thing for me and the thing I’m looking most forward to is seeing the fans and feeling their excitement and sharing mine with them,” she says. “I’m having a lot more fun now. I’m more relaxed in a lot of ways, and I’m savoring it because this is my last tour. I’m in a farewell spirit, and it is emotional for me. It’s a bit of a bittersweet experience. I’m almost afraid to start it because I know that once it starts, it will go by very quickly.”

During the last months of her Vegas residency, Twain says she felt the familiar pull of the road. She missed the arena stage and a tour was the perfect way to return the music to her fans. “I enjoyed Vegas very much for a lot of reasons, but it was a motivation to go out in an arena setting and visit people in their hometowns,” she says. “In Vegas, the audience is very close to the stage, and it was one of the luxuries I enjoyed because I love to see the people close up and mingle with them. When I go out on tour, I need to make sure that I don’t miss out on that. I have to make sure that I am able to get out there in the audience and look them in the eye and be among them.”

The tour will feature a setlist of hits and fan favorites throughout her career. While Twain has an upcoming album in the works, the tour will not feature new music because she wants to give her fans the classic concert experience and the new material is reflective of her post-tour journey. “For me, touring is something I haven’t done in a long time, and this is a way to say goodbye to the stage on a high with my friends and my fans,” she says. “This show is more dynamic than ever before. No one has ever seen me in this light before. It’s an entirely new production. We stripped everything down and started from scratch.”

A lot has changed in the pop music landscape since Twain slipped into into the periphery. One of the first country artists to break down the barriers between traditional country and pop rock, Twain is considered a pioneer for the current roster of country stars feeling the push toward mainstream pop.

“Ever since I started listening to radio as a small child, the genres have gone in every possible direction that you could imagine. What falls into any specific genre has changed and there are new genres coming out all the time. I think it’s like a moving target,” says Twain. “I enjoying following that. I enjoy new things, new music, new styles, new artists, and new ideas. I never really felt that it was necessary to box anything in. It’s a lot more fun for things to evolve and cross boundaries and that’s what I ended up doing in my own career.”

As one of the most successful female performers and songwriters among her contemporaries, Twain took bold liberties with her career. She carefully navigated the stereotypes of the country label, writing catchy pop hits that spilled over into the pop arena. Fans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line regarded her as one of their own. “I never saw myself as any one thing and I never wrote music specifically for a genre. It was a pleasant surprise when my music ended up crossing genres. It’s been a big part of the fun for me, just kind of being myself and it lands where a bunch of other people decide it should land. But I really like the moving target aspect of that. I’ve enjoyed seeing these boundaries being pushed and changed and even dissolved.”

The sun is setting on her stage career, but from this moment on, she moving ahead in a new direction and writing her own rules. “This is certainly not my retirement from music. I will be doing music until the day I die. I love music too much. But I’ve been doing this for so long. I’ve been on stage since I was eight years old and I’ve really put in my fair share of performing. The time is just right now to do other things musically. I want to write more. I want to make lots more records. I miss making records and I haven’t made enough of them in my career. I also want to write songs for other artists coming up and I want to sit back and enjoy them having their moment on stage and being proud that I’m part of their success and watching my music from the audience as an observer. That’s a whole new phase I’m looking forward to.”

About Liza Mitchell