‘I have nothing more to prove’

She is still the one!

Nearly 30 years after her first album, country icon Shania Twain is back and busier than ever.

Twain, 57, has climbed a number of historic peaks. The best-selling female country artist of all time with more than 100 million records sold worldwide, Twain redefined the genre with bold hits like “Any Man of Mine,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and “I’m Gonna Getcha Good! But she also endured devastating lows on her road to superstardom, from the tragic death of her parents and a shocking betrayal that led to her divorce from her first husband to a battle with Lyme disease that nearly destroyed her voice.

Shania Twain rollout

Shania Twain rollout

Martin Scheller Shania Twain

For more on Shania Twain, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE Thursday, on newsstands everywhere.

Despite the hardships, “I really found such a wonderful life,” says Twain — who learned to love again with second husband Frédéric Thiébaud, 52 — in the new PEOPLE cover story.

Now healthy, the beloved singer is back at her best as she prepares for the release of her sixth studio album, Queen of mine (to be released February 3) and go on a world tour.

For more on PEOPLE’s cover story with Shania Twain, listen to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day below.

“It’s like a renaissance period for me. To still experience it as a relevant artist is rewarding,” says Twain. “I feel a renewed confidence. I have nothing left to prove, and in that I feel freedom.”

RELATED: Shania Twain debuts ’80s-inspired video for ‘Waking Up Dreaming,’ her first single in 5 years

The native of Timmins, Ontario, started singing in bars at age 8. And when her mother, Sharon, and stepfather, Jerry, died when she was just 22, Twain began performing at a resort to support her three younger siblings.

“It was like, ‘This is all I can do. I have to support the kids.’ That gave me a motivation and a fearless state of mind, because when you have no choice, you have to persevere — and that’s what I did,” she says.

She eventually brought that brave spirit to Nashville and broke through in 1995 with her second LP, The woman in me, which she made with her producer husband Robert “Mutt” Lange. But it was with her third album, 1997’s Drop bythat Twain disrupted a male-dominated business and made an unprecedented crossover to pop, paving the way for future artists like Taylor Swift.

Shania Twain rollout

Shania Twain rollout

Martin Scheller Shania Twain

“She wasn’t afraid to blur genre lines, show midriff, or redefine what it meant to be a woman in country music,” says country pop star Kelsea Ballerini, 29. “That boldness is what I hope to have throughout my career.” to carry. “

Grammy winner Maren Morris, 32, adds: “Shania really had one of the most iconic crossovers in the history of the country…I admire her confidence in her path because she really loves bringing people together. bring whatever sound comes out of the speakers.”

With her 2002 album Up!, Twain became the only artist ever to have three consecutive diamond-certified albums (with sales of more than 10 million each). But even with her groundbreaking achievements, Twain struggled to be taken seriously as a performer and faced sexist assumptions that she owed her success to her male collaborators.

Shania Twain rollout

Shania Twain rollout

Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Shania Twain at the 1995 Grammys

“It was very insulting to be considered a molded artist, that it took a man or a team to mold me,” says Twain. “I bit my tongue a lot. But being in the industry at a young age as a woman really teaches you how to let it roll off your back.”

Twain faced further setbacks after she took a break from the spotlight in 2004 to focus on raising her and Lange’s son Eja, now 21. In 2008, her 14-year marriage to Lange imploded when she learned of his affair with her close friend. Marie-Anne Thiébaud.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Shania Twain below

“It was a very low period in my life,” says Twain, who sank into depression. After the betrayal, she and Marie-Anne’s husband, former Nestlé exec Frédéric, felt sorry for their shared heartbreak and soon after fell in love.

With her heart on the mend, Twain confronted another problem: her voice. For over seven years, she was unable to project vocally and feared she would never sing again. Ultimately, doctors diagnosed Twain with Lyme disease from a tick bite in 2004, which they said had damaged the nerves in her vocal cords. She learned to sing again, with lengthy warm-ups and physical therapy, and in 2018, Twain underwent open-throat surgery to strengthen weakened nerves.

“Maybe I can’t [sing] forever,” she says, “but right now I’m just enjoying where I am.”

Shania Twain rollout

Shania Twain rollout

Martin Scheller Shania Twain

Indeed, Twain’s satisfaction rings loud and clear Queen of mine, her upbeat, empowering new LP she says she wrote to escape the desperation of the pandemic. The record – her first in five years – is just the latest chapter of her resurgence. Her surprise Coachella cameo with Harry Styles last April helped her win over a new generation of fans, and her Netflix documentary released last summer, Not just any girlreminded old devotees why they loved her in the first place.

“All these years later, I’m still here, almost in a bigger way,” she says, “and I’m embracing it.”

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