I Love Life: Shania’s Determination Produces Results
My son Jeff, who was 12 years old, had a major crush on a young aspiring singer from Canada. As the chief interviewer of the internationally syndicated Grand Ole Opry Minute in Nashville, I was always receiving the latest information on the hundreds of aspiring singers who made their way to Nashville with used guitars strapped over their backs and stars in their eyes. Quite often, the record companies sent me pictures of their recently signed artists. While at my office, Jeff saw a glossy photo of a beautiful young woman whose God given name was Eileen Regina Edwards.
“Dad, do you think I could meet her,” Jeff begged me. Well, the next day, I called her record company and asked if Eileen would drop by WSM Radio for an interview. “No problem,” the media relation’s director told me. “In fact, she can do the interview today. I’ll just call her at home and ask her to see you this afternoon.”
I drove back home, picked up Jeff and returned to the radio station. Before we got to the station, Jeff asked me if he could ask Eileen three questions! I reluctantly agreed. Eileen was already waiting for me in the station’s newsroom. Jeff instantly fell in love with the stunning woman! After introducing ourselves, I turned on the tape machine, Eileen told me about her life—a life that was marred by tragedy, including childhood poverty and the loss of her loved ones. Eileen’s parents were both killed in a car accident. In an instant, the 21-year-old became the executor of her parents’ estate as well as the legal guardian of her 2 younger brothers and younger sister. Eileen moved the family to Huntsville, Ontario so that she could support them with her new job at the Deer Hurst Resort. She sang and performed in the resort’s “Viva Vegas’ show for three years. Then, in 1991, a Nashville lawyer was sitting in the audience. After the show, he invited the talented entertainer to come to Nashville. She soon signed a recording contact with a major label. It didn’t take before Eileen recorded her debut album. During our interview, Eileen’s can-do attitude was obvious. There was no doubt in her mind she would someday become a country superstar. “Yes, I know what I want and I realize what it’s going to take for me to become successful—perseverance.”
It was pretty obvious to me—after interviewing Garth, Reba and other household names in country music, Eileen had the qualities of a true winner. Eileen possessed the one ingredient that many newcomers don’t have—confidence in her talent and in herself. In Eileen’s words, “If you want to get involved at the level of someone like Garth Brooks, you have to be qualified to do that. The pressure is on. I think that weeds out many people who think they’re going to launch a major music career. Singing is one talent and performing is another talent. I think the two go hand in hand and I love both of them. But, it wasn’t always that way. I remember so well growing up as a child. My parents would actually force me to get on the stage. They knew I was talented. But, I didn’t want to do it. My knees would shake and I will never forget the time I even wet myself! Honest to God, I was so scared and petrified. But, I kept singing and with the help of my parents, I finally got over the nervousness and the fear. I think it was a famous actor who once said, ‘you must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try—you don’t take the risk.’ I’m willing to take the risk.”
Not long after Jeff and I met Eileen, the Canadian singer teamed up with a distant admirer, a London producer. What started out as a phone relationship turned into a marriage. Combining their unique talents, Eileen’s next album became an instant sensation. All together, Eileen’s run on the singles chart spanned over 100 weeks! In one year alone, Eileen’s tour grossed over 70 million dollars.
The girl with a dream was no longer just another singer waiting for the big break! Thanks to purpose, a positive mental attitude and perseverance, Eileen was now a worldwide country superstar. Her name? Shania Twain.
By the way, on the way home from the radio interview, Jeff told me he asked Shania the three questions when I briefly left the recording studio. “Number 1, I asked her what kind of car she drives. Number 2, I asked her where she lives. Number 3, I asked her if she could pick me up Friday after school and take me to a movie!”
Well, Shania and Jeff never did make it to the movie. But, to this day, Jeff proudly tells his friends he’s the only 12-year-old boy who ever asked Shania Twain out on a date and got turned down!