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Shania Twain's road to superstardom: 'It's a rags-to-riches story; it's a one in a million story.'

Shania Twain the polished performer was a world away from Eilleen Twain, the shy girl from Northern Ontario.

Shania Twain the polished performer was a world away from Eilleen Twain, the shy girl from Northern Ontario

How Eilleen Twain from Northern Ontario became Shania, country's best selling female artist. 8:38

For Shania Twain, the road to becoming the superstar that we know and love was a long one. She began performing at the age of eight in Timmins, Ont. under the name Eilleen Twain, impressing everyone who had the opportunity to hear her.

Former manager Mary Bailey remembers first seeing her perform. "This little girl walked on the stage with a guitar in her hand, and out came this sound, this magnificent, breathtaking sound."

At 14, Twain appeared on CBC's The Tommy Hunter Show. The young singer's talent was evident, and she appeared confident and at-home on stage. As biographer Barbara Hager explains in the clip above, Twain's family struggled financially, but her mother made sure her daughter had everything she needed to make it.

From the age of eight years old, I've been singing in clubs, I've been filling my lungs with second-hand smoke and these were all classes in my life and in my career that I took to become the artist that I am right now,- Shania Twain

When her parents were killed in a car accident, Twain was just 21 and prepared to quit singing to raise her younger brothers and sister. But Twain found a job performing Broadway hits and jazz in the lounge at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario that allowed her to stay in music and also support her younger siblings. Producer and conductor John Kim Bell calls this part of Twain's career her big turning point "where she really came out and became a seasoned professional."

"From the age of eight years old, I've been singing in clubs, I've been filling my lungs with second-hand smoke and these were all classes in my life and in my career that I took to become the artist that I am right now," the country superstar says in archival interview footage.

By the time Bell invited her to perform at the Annual Aboriginal Achievement Awards in 1995, the singer had transformed into the polished performer we know today. She had been working with then-husband and producer Mutt Lange and she was becoming the hot rising star. Hager was actually at that performance of Any Man of Mine and remembers it clearly. "She is packaged then. She is sassy, she's confident, she owns the stage. And that took ten years of evolution as a musician to get to that point," recalls the biographer.  

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