Remember at the very start of this blog’s existence when I told you the term ‘rock god’ for which this blog is named is used “simply and purely to mean any musician who touches my soul in some way through their music and musician lives with the depth deserving of the term”?
That’s still true. I have no prerequisite for the music in this blog to fall under the genre of ‘rock;’ and ‘god’ is definitely an any gender inclusive term.
So… let’s go, girls!
This time, the rock god is genre-bending, rule-breaking, girl power icon Shania Twain, who I saw in concert for the first time last weekend.
I do admit – this is a rare incarnation of rock god for me. I have never been a country music fan. Or, at least not since I grew into my own musical tastes. I was raised on my parents’ record collection of the Beatles, Elvis, classical music, big band and so much more; but they also played various country artists like the Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rodgers, to name a few.
We watched the Grand Ol’ Opry and Yee Haw. And I’m pretty sure the first real grown-up album my parents bought me was Loretta Lynn, my sister got Tanya Tucker. (Just fyi, the first album I bought with my own allowance was Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog) .
But of all the genres my parents introduced me too, country was the one I left behind. Whatever it is in our bodies and souls that makes us like one genre of music over another; this artist, but not that one; I just didn’t attach to country.
Until Shania Twain.
Shania came in with a bang. In my world anyways – there was no country music on my radios and then one day there was and she was everywhere, all the time.
She did for country music what Harry Potter did for literature. She didn’t just cross over genres, she tore down the walls. It seemed like everyone was listening to Shania. In the grocery stores, in the mall. On all the pop/rock and country radio stations. Everywhere.
Along with much of the world I gravitated to her songs, I even bought the Up and Come on Over CDs, probably the first country music albums to hit my collection since Loretta Lynn. I gravitated for the music itself – the catchy playful songs like Man, I Feel Like A Woman, That Don’t Impress Me Much, and Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under; the soft romantic ballads like Forever and For Always and From This Moment.
I gravitated because here was a fellow Canadian and there’s an extra sort of pride in supporting your country’s talent and seeing them do so well around the world.
And I gravitated for the girl power!
Listen, it was the 90s. Things were perhaps way better for females and other non-male genders than they were in the 50s but there was still a looooong way to go (there still is) for equality – there were (and still are) expected gender roles and behaviours – if you are female, you should be quiet and polite, be ‘lady-like,’ make way, make space for men. Don’t be aggressive or ambitious. The work force was still very much genderized, the glass ceiling much higher than it is today.
The same was true (and still is) in the music biz and especially in country music. Country music was (and still is) predominantly men, and, by all accounts, nearly impossible to break through for a female artist. The Dollys, Tanyas, and Lorettas were few and far between and the journeys to the top were not easy ones.
Shania Twain smashed the glass ceiling, becoming the top selling female country artist ever and surpassing all but two men (Garth Brooks and George Strait) as of 2021 (maybe Taylor Swift has surpassed this now?). She also held the record for female artist with the most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart (97 weeks) until 2022, when Taylor Swift broke the record with 99.
Shania unapologetically showed the world women are tough as nails and sexy AF at the same time. We can dress in hot pink and leopard print and be a badass. She epitomized feminine feminism. Her songs are anthems for girl power – Man, I Feel Like a Woman, She’s Not Just a Pretty Face, That Don’t Impress Me Much, Any Man of Mine. She shouted at the top of her lungs that women can be anything and everything, and their partners “better walk in line.” And women clamoured around Shania and shouted with her.
So yah, maybe country isn’t really my thing, but the Queen of Country Pop is. And so yah, I went to see her concert last week, because even if I hadn’t loved her music back in the day, she’s one of those performers you just don’t want to miss. You just know the show is going to be good, the stage flashy, the costumes sparkly, the performance high energy. And it was all those things and more.
That girl power connection to Shania never left. The audience was almost entirely women and many of them were dressed to the nines – sequins, hot pink, leopard print, cow
boygirl hats and fringe. There for the music, and to celebrate the woman who paved all our ways in sooo many ways.
(Photo Gallery: Lucky fan Shania and Shania)
Though things are still rough for a woman in the country music world, without Shania, there would be no Taylor Swift, No Carrie Underwood, No Lindsay Ell (who opened for Shania this night and was phenomenal).
(Photo Gallery: Lindsay Ell)
Even Harry Styles grew up listening to her and was influenced by her music, coming full circle at Coachella last year by having Shania join him on stage for a couple of Shania’s songs!)
Everyone in the audience seemed equally inspired. This crowd was pumped up on the concert (and an Oilers major win just minutes before Shania went on stage (hockey – Stanley Cup – home team, for those who might not know…), leaving people cheering “Go, Oilers, Go! – a weird sound at a concert, but this is Edmonton).
We were riotous, well beyond healthy noise levels my watch told me many times. Thunderous, especially when Shania put on an Oilers jersey with her name on it. And Shania was moved, frequently sharing her appreciation of the crowd in between songs.
And the songs – a strong mix of fan favourites over the years and new songs from Shania’s new album The Queen of Me. The songs really are anthems! Get up and dance – you can’t help but dance – songs. Look, any song that mentions Brad Pitt is gonna be a favourite for me! Especially if he doesn’t impress you much… that’s saying something!
And the beautiful ballads. I forgot how much I love You’re Still The One. And Shania’s performance of this song, sitting on a stool, playing guitar… Yes I sang at the top of my lungs. I’d apologize to everyone around me, but you all were singing just as loud and strong.
The stage, at times a saloon with an incredibly aesthetic horse shaped biker bike parked in front; at times a sky of bubbles, and everything you’d want a concert stage to be in between.
This night was Shania in a nutshell: beautiful, fun, powerful, moving. We shook the dance floor, roared our applause. It was a great night.
Roger’s Place, I think you should probably check the foundations for cracks.
(And two more photos for the Oilers fans)
This concert sounds fantastic! I have never seen Shania live but now I really, really want to! Maybe not wearing a cowgirl hat ; ) but I will be looking for her concerts in the future. Great read!
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