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Views and opinions: Twain helped shape the changing face of country


BITTERSWEET, Ky. — I’m going to make a bold statement regarding female country music stars. But before I do, I will say this: There have been so many wonderful female artists who have changed the face of the country music industry over the years.

Singers such as Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton are just a few who come to mind who paved the way for many of today’s female superstars. But, in my mind, there is one who has such appeal to so many different groups of music lovers, not to mention she has sold more records than any other female country music artist ever, that country music was forever changed once Shania Twain hit the charts.

Pretty bold of me to say, I know. With so many great performers out there, why Twain?

First, I admire her for growing up through many hardships. I think that builds character, and while she isn’t the only superstar to come from meager beginnings, her story is so exceptional, having put her family first at a young age after the tragic loss of her parents.

That is a whole other story – but she could have easily missed the stardom ship in taking care of her family. However, her talent and her determination could not be denied and led to one of the biggest careers of any performer, anywhere.

Twain’s music appeals to so many different fans, and not all of them are country music enthusiasts. But early on she took the word “crossover” to new heights with her stellar voice and great song choices.

Something else that really helped her came by way of so many great music videos. I think those videos contributed to her popularity at a time when many country superstars were just discovering the power of that platform.

In having such broad appeal, she undoubtedly brought some of her legion of fans into the country music family. You can imagine it was a disappointment to them when she took several years off from the road.

But thankfully she returned and today, is touring extensively and even released new music last fall. The album, entitled Now, happens to be her first new collection in 15 years and well worth the wait.

Some performers are destined for greatness and I think Twain fits that bill. She may not be the most country of country music superstars now or from the beginning, but she made country different.

One day in the future when someone else writes about how performers like Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton changed the industry, they will also mention Shania Twain.


Bluegrass Johnson comes from a long line of country music performers and enjoys a passion for the rhythm and melody. From the hills of Kentucky, he will offer his opinions on a variety of new country music each week. Readers with questions or comments may write to Johnson in care of this publication.