DIARY - 28 MARCH 2005 - SHANIA TWAIN
SHEEPISH ABOUT KIWI INVASION
superstar turned pop princess Shania Twain doesn't have to count
sheep to sleep - she can dream of her New Zealand high country retreat.
Twain, real name Eileen Regina, and producer -songwriter husband
Robert Lange paid $21.4 million for the perpetual lease of Motatapu
Station and Mt Soho Station, near Wanaka on the south island.
The perpetual leases are the largest block of South Island high
country ever sold to an overseas bidder.
These properties adjoin and straddle the Wanaka basin - her total
land area is 24,731 hectares.
and Lange bought the leases with spare change from her album sales
that have soared beyond 50 million in her stellar career.
Hers is an
ethos born of a hard-knock childhood that reads like a Canadian version
of the Dolly Parton or Loretta Lynn story.
Parton invested her profits in the famed Dollywood theme park and other
Tennessee real estate and Loretta settled on her southern Tennessee Dude
Ranch and environs.
Twain and Lange retreated from their upstate New York property in the
Airondarks and spread their investments in Switzerland and New Zealand.
The Kiwi public will have access to around one-sixth of the area, and
land above 1100 metres will be fenced off, retired from grazing, and subjected
to a covenant with the Department of Conservation.
All this land is above the snow line.
Lange have agreed to spend a minimum of $221,000 building the walking
track and huts.
Another condition of the sale is expenditure of $1.6m upgrading the farm,
which will become a merino wool business, managed by a New Zealander.
Shania plans to farm up to 15,000 merino sheep on her properties and expects
to turn the investment into an $800,000-a-year business within two years.
But her business plan did not impress the Overseas Investment Commission
much - officials questioned whether the two rugged high-country sheep
stations will ever become viable.
Documents issued by the commission under Official Information Act outline
Twain's plans to spend a further $3.2 million developing the 24,731-hectare
The couple's business proposal expected that by 2007 the combined sheep
station would have a gross annual income of $796,385 and gross profit
just over $270,000.
"The applicants maintain that they are investing a considerable amount
of capital to turn a non-performing farm into a viable economic unit,"
the documents say.
"The commission questions whether that is actually the case."
The couple's cash-flow projections indicated "a low rate of return
for the farming operation, which raises questions about whether it really
is a viable farming investment".
The business will require six fulltime employees and a further 15 staff
over three years to work on development projects.
These include a $1.5 million home for the couple; $250,000 to build woolsheds
and sheep yards, $100,000 for shearers' quarters; fencing worth $360,000,
and $80,000 on roads and an airstrip.
AND GREATEST HITS
summer charts with her latest Greatest Hits disc that followed
her multi genre marketing of sixth album Up.
album contains two CDs of the same songs sequenced identically, a
"red" disc with a harder, rock-leaning cast and a "green"
one garnished with mandolin, fiddle, banjo and steel guitar.
A third set of "blue" international mixes that bear a Bhangra
stamp is available either as a high-priced import or download on the
singer's Web site - www.shaniatwain.com Those albums features something
for everyone alongside Twain's torqued-up twang and hooks.
Up! enabled Twain to sell her pro-woman tune She's Not Just
a Pretty Face, pro-intimacy Wanna Get to Know You (That Good!),
pro-commitment Forever and for Always and pro-self-determination
In My Car (I'll Be the Driver).
It was a
nice little earner but still sits in recycled record stores alongside
her early demo discs released to cash in on her latter day success.
INTERVIEW - 1998
TWAIN MARKED FOR MAINSTREAM
Canadian chanteuse Shania Twain leaped the moat to myopic mainstream
radio in summer via a dance mix of old country hit If You're Not
In It For Love she didn't let the memorable moment pass.
The singer was so moved by her overnight success in the unlucky radio
country she returned here in autumn with a dance mix of another seasoned
single You Win My Love.
Ms Twain primed the publicity pump to prove she wasn't a banished
blip on radio's radar with a full-scale assault through an intensive
TV & radio campaign.
Although this single hasn't surpassed the success of her breakthrough
hit the visit has been a powerful profile propellant.
push her huge selling second album The Woman In Me back into the
Top 10 and stampeded her worldwide LP sales way past 10 million.
That was a remarkable feat - Shania hadn't toured live since a 1993 triple-header
with Toby Keith and John Brannen to showcase her self-titled debut disc.
The image-makers didn't take any chances with Ms Twain's TV trek - all
visual signs of her country instrumentation were removed from the small
This enabled Shania to be sold to the long suffering city slickers raised
on a straight jacket of hits and memories radio and TV variety show schmaltz.
It also ensured Twain was not associated with the shocker ocker image
of Australiana hicks who have long stunted the growth of progressive Australian
Polygram Records did an excellent job - the sensual songbird, hitherto
unknown here except to hipper country fans, is now a household name akin
to Sheryl Crow, Celine Dion, Maria Carey and Alanis Morrisette.
Folks who wouldn't know a fiddle from a mandolin flocked to buy her music.
Ms Twain and producer husband Mutt Lange have already finished her third
album and plan to tour internationally in October to quell the sceptics
who missed her debut.
It's an extension of the assertive good vibes worldly woman aura created
on The Woman In Me, with a lacing of social comment.
EYES BLUE TEARS
one song Black Eyes, Blue Tears which deals with domestic abuse
and how to overcome that bad situation," Shania told Nu Country.
"It's about taking freedom by the horns and going for it. It's very
positive aftermath to a failed relationship. It's the preventative measure
of not having to take drastic action in a situation like that in Gretchen
Peters Independence Day (a huge hit for Martina McBride). It's there to
encourage people to get out of a bad situation when you still have a chance,
that you do have self esteem and it's waiting to be uncovered. Everyone
has the strength to overcome these sort of things. "
The duo trimmed the recorded product back to 16 of their compositions.
"I think it's very important for young people who are singers and
want to be recording artists to write their own songs," Shania says,
"it's very difficult to find good songs. When you're a new artist
you're usually last on the list for good songs. If you really want quality
songs the best way is to develop your writing skills and do it yourself.
When you head off to the bank and realise the money you're making from
writing, the real wealth is in the measuring stick of creativity and reward.
You don't have to rely on other writers. You can be independent. Nothing
feels better than that."
The value of creativity and material comfort is not lost on Ms Twain who
was reared in abject poverty in the wilds of outback Canada.
STAGE AT EIGHT
she sang for her supper in bars after midnight when the booze was turned
"I would go in and do a set and get my $25," Shania recalled
in the opulent environs of the vast Como suite where K.D. Lang also entertained
the media on a promo tour, "by the time I was 11 I was actually given
a permit to perform. I was writing songs at 10 and sneaking them into
supplemented her singing at 17 as foreperson of a re-afforestation
team and at 21 suffered a tragedy that changed her life.
Her mother and stepfather were killed in a traffic wreck and she sacrificed
her independence to raise her younger siblings.
Although Shania missed the freedom of growing up as a free spirit
she developed a discipline that has been beneficial to her career.
It has given
her an inner resolve, something that will be handy when she begins the
gruelling work of promoting the sequel to a disc that unleashed so many
Most of those hits - Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, No-One Needs
To Know, You Win My Love, God Bless The Child, Home Ain't Where The Heart
Is and the title track - will only be known here by Nu Country listeners
or those who bought the disc after the dance mixes escaped.
Shania is confident her third album will consolidate her in the Australian
mainstream without her being dismissed as a dance mix diva.
"I don't want to give too much away," Twain revealed, "it's
a very upbeat album but there's also a few intimate moments. It's very
exciting and it's going to be a fun live show. It will very much be a
couple of touring years for me. Things will change drastically - this
will be very much a live touring album."
Shania is not as surprised with her Australian success as local observers
who have seen international country artists - Johnny Cash, Waylon &
Willie, Garth Brooks, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris and LeAnn Rimes -
pull capacity crowds here despite being treated like lepers by commercial
"International mainstream airplay has been my hope all along,"
says Shania, "it happened in Canada and now it's happening in Australia.
Hopefully it will happen in other countries. The music's always had the
potential to do that. I consider myself lucky that Australia has caught
onto that - I'm surprised it did catch on as it didn't look like it would
On an even playing field that success would be shared by stable-mates
Kathy Mattea, Terri Clark and Kim Richey; sadly you have to look back
to the sixties when Cash and late peers Johnny Horton and Marty Robbins
were played here on commercial radio.
Although fellow Canadian Donna Huber - a Twain clone - and country satirist
Cledus T Judd make a healthy living in Shania's slipstream she hasn't
suffered bitchiness from her peers.
Luckily, she hasn't heard the flak from faded femme fatales who are John
Deere Green from lack of success of her magnitude.
"That's a great word (bitchiness)" Shania laughed, "people
are fairly supportive of what's happening. It's done really great things
for the music industry. Other artists champion that sort of thing - they
want the industry to do well. They want people to take notice of what
the industry is doing, most are very supportive and whether it's their
taste in music is irrelevant. I haven't had any run-ins with any of them."
Shania's peers should indeed be indebted to her - The Woman In Me
peaked at #5 on U.S. pop charts and had a marathon 114 week reign on country
charts including 29 weeks at #1.
Shania was eventually usurped by a younger woman - LeAnn Rimes, then 13.
Ms Rimes debut disc Blue topped the charts for 27 weeks before
falling to an album by yet another younger woman - Unchained Melody/The
Early Years (the disc she recorded when she was 11).
"Until I come up with a new album I hope more young women like LeAnn
Rimes come on and keep the industry alive and kicking," Shania says,
"I hope the genre is still going strong when I bring out my new album
- you really want the genre to stay strong."
Such sentiments should not be lost on Australian radio - it never had
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