By Charlie Mitchell

Most anyone involved with the music industry will tell you it’s a daunting task for a label to successfully launch a new artist.

But in 1993, Mercury Records attempted launching THREE new artists…all at once.

Toby Keith was the grand slam in the label’s “Triple Play.”

On the other hand, John Brannen and Shania Twain both struck out.

Fortunately, the video for Shania’s debut “What Made You Say That” received enough exposure to catch the attention of one Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Only one of the greatest producers ever to walk this planet.

Mutt made metal acceptable to women. Example “A”, above.

He was as much a part of the soundtrack of the 1980s as Prince, Springsteen, Madonna and Michael Jackson.

And once he collaborated with Shania on a follow-up to her nearly-invisible debut, history began to be re-written.

“Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under”, the first single from that follow-up, peaked at #11. Admittedly, we missed this one here at Y108. But we were far from alone.

But the next single COULDN’T be missed. It was pretty much an instant hit.

According to an old episode of VH1 Behind The Music, Mercury head Luke Lewis asked to meet with Shania to discuss her next album.

Shania’s response was pretty much…(paraphrasing here): “Uh, about that next album. Here ya go!” (Shania and Mutt lay completed The Woman In Me album on Lewis’ desk.)

The Woman In Me went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide. Its follow-up, Come On Over, sold over 40 million.

After two history-making albums, the turning point came with “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” in 2002.

Released just as the Dixie Chicks were leading a swing back toward more traditional Country, “I’m Gonna Getcha Good”, and the album it came from, Up!, rang hollow to all but Shania’s most dedicated fans. Other hits followed…

…but the backlash had begun.

By 2005, the hits had stopped entirely. Shania and Mutt eventually divorced.

This 2011 comeback, a nice evolution of Shania’s signature sound IMO, fell on deaf ears. But even with her recording career in decline, she still had a TV show on the OWN Network, guest shots as a judge on American Idol, a two-year residency in Las Vegas, and the Rock This Country tour. Many artists would love to be that busy.

With 85 million records sold, Shania’s place in Pop Culture and Country Music history is both secure – and enviable. She is the best-selling female artist in Country Music history.

And on December 9th, Billboard will honor Shania Twain with its “Icon” award, which, to quote the publication, “celebrates an artist whose historic contributions to the music industry establish them among the highest class of performers.”

And you know what? Over and above the #1 songs, the sales records, the awards…Shania’s trademark portrayal of confidence and strength, evident in the lyrics of most of the songs she co-wrote with ex-husband Mutt Lange, may well be her biggest contribution of all to Country Music and Pop Culture.


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