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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 28, 1965

This is the final Tuesday of the month of August 2012, so I wanted to make this one very special indeed. It's August 28 today, and I have chosen a subject that is not only inspirational and memorable, but I'll warn you ahead of will be a preview of the Sunday Jukebox entries for the entire month of September.

Intrigued yet? Good. Keep reading. I'll reveal all at the very end of this blog entry.

For now, we have a trip back through time planned, so let's take a look back on August 28th throughout history, shall we?

So, what significant events took place on August 28th? Have a look!

1521 – The Ottoman Turks occupy Belgrade

1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Delaware Bay

1619 – Ferdinand II is elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire

1789 – The Saturn moon “Enceladus” is discovered by William Herschel

1830 – The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's new locomotive (known as Tom Thumb) races a horse-drawn car, setting the stage for using steam powered trains

1833 – Slavery is abolished in the British Empire following the Royal Assent of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833

1845 – The debut edition of “Scientific American” magazine is published

1859 – A geomagnetic storm amplifies the brightness of the Aurora Borealis enough that it could be seen in parts of the United States, Europe, and even Japan

1898 – Caleb Bradham develops a new formula for a soft drink, which would come to be called Pepsi-Cola

1916 – While Italy declares war on Germany during the first World War, Germany in turn declares war on Austria

1931 – The Soviet Union and France sign a treaty of non-agression

1937 – Toyota Motors becomes an independent company

1953 – Nippon Television broadcasts Japan's first television program

1955 – Emmett Till is murdered in Mississippi, which galvanizes the nascent American Civil Rights Movement

1957 – The longest filibuster conducted by a U.S. Senator is held this day as Strom Thurmond spent a total of 24 hours, 18 minutes trying to prevent the Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1957

1963 – Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his famous “I Have A Dream” speech

1964 – A race riot begins in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1968 – During the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, riots break out

1979 – An IRA bomb explodes on the Grand Patch in Brussels, Belgium

1988 – Ramstein airshow disaster; 75 people are killed and 346 are injured after three planes collide and crash into the spectators below

1991 – On the same day that the Ukraine declares its independence from the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party

1996 – The divorce between Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales is finalized

2003 – A blackout causes 500,000 people in Great Britain to lose power

2009 – Adam Goldstein (DJ AM) is found dead in his New York City apartment from a suspected drug overdose, less than a year after surviving a plane crash in September 2008

That's quite a lot of news for August 28, isn't it?

As it turns out, there also happens to be a lot of celebrity birthdays today. Who happens to be turning one year older today? Well there's Ken Jenkins, David Soul, Robert Greenwald, Bob Segarini, Danny Seraphine (Chicago), Hugh Cornwell (The Stranglers), Wayne Osmond, Daniel Stern, Rick Rossovich, Scott Hamilton, Emma Samms, Kim Appleby, Craig Anton, David Fincher, Jennifer Coolidge, Jason Priestley, Jack Black, Mary McCartney, Sherrie Austin, Todd Eldridge, Janet Evans, DJ Assault, Carly Pope, LeAnn Rimes, and Kyle Massey.

Oh, and today's blog subject is also celebrating a birthday today.

She was born forty-seven years ago today on August 28, 1965. Which coincidentally happens to be the wedding anniversary of my parents as well, which is why I chose this particular date to focus on. And while her early life and recent hardships could be used as lyrics for a country music song, this woman proved that she could make it big in the world of country music, setting records on the country chart throughout the 1990s alone.

So, who is this person that we'll be focusing on? Well, let's take a look at just one of the songs that helped make her a star.

ARTIST: Shania Twain
SONG: Man, I Feel Like A Woman
ALBUM: Come On Over
DATE RELEASED: March 3, 1999

TRIVIA: This video was heavily inspired by the music video Robert Palmer filmed for his 1986 smash, “Addicted To Love”.

So, by now, I'm sure you have guessed that Shania Twain is our featured topic for today. Besides the fact that she turns 47 years old today, the reason why I chose Shania as the topic of discussion for today is because she is one of those women who I feel have been thrown dozens of lemons in her lifetime, and she has managed to take those lemons and turned them into delicious lemonade and appetizing lemon meringue pie.

In short, she took all of the bad hands that she was dealt, and made beautiful music out of them.

So, let's start at the beginning and go from there.

Shania Twain was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on August 28, 1965. But she wasn't known as Shania back then. Her birth name was Eilleen Regina Edwards, if you can believe it. When little Eilleen was just two, her parents divorced, and she, along with her mother and two sisters, moved up north to Timmins, Ontario. Shortly after the family settled down, Eilleen's mother, Sharon married a man named Jerry Twain, and they had a son together. Soon after, Jerry adopted the Edwards girls, and all three ended up taking Jerry's last name. Many believed that Eilleen was descended from the Ojibwa tribe (since Jerry was Ojibwa), but in actuality, Shania's biological father was part Cree.

Anyway, Eilleen Twain's childhood was especially rough. Because her parents did not make a lot of money, food was scarce, and reportedly Eilleen brought mustard sandwiches to school for lunch. She knew that things had to change, but she was fearful of telling the school about the situation for fear that her family would be split up. Eilleen also had to deal with the fact that Sharon and Jerry Twain had terrible arguments which sometimes got violent. Things got so bad that Eilleen begged her mother to take them to a Toronto homeless shelter for assistance while Jerry was at work. The family would reunite two years later.

When Eilleen was just eight years old, she began singing in bars around Timmins to try and make some extra money for the family. She would make about twenty dollars a night, often performing between midnight and one in the morning. It wasn't exactly the idyllic childhood that an eight year old girl should have been having, and little Eilleen didn't particularly like performing at the bars, but she loved the music, and she stuck with it, reportedly writing her very first songs at the age of ten, and making her first television at the age of thirteen when she performed on “The Tommy Hunter Show” which aired on CBC at the time.

Eilleen also managed to work other jobs in her childhood, including a stint working at her stepfather's reforestation business and fronted a couple of bands after graduating from Timmins High School in 1983. She sang back-up on a track recorded by Tim Denis in 1984, which garnered the attention of Toronto-based DJ Stan Campbell who was blown away by Eilleen's voice. He took her to Nashville to record a few demos, and from there, she met with a regional country singer named Mary Bailey, who also supported the young singer.

Would you believe that if Eilleen had her way, she would have pursued a career in pop music rather than country? That was how she felt back when she was in her early twenties. Following a performance at a fundraiser for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in February 1987, where she sang with such stars as Bernadette Peters, and jazz guitarist Don Ross, she began to change her mind.

Just as Eilleen's music career was just starting out, tragedy struck. On November 1, 1987, Sharon and Jerry Twain were killed in an automobile accident, and a heartbroken Twain was forced to move back to Timmins to help take care of her younger siblings.

It wouldn't be until 1993 that Eilleen Twain would resume her career. Her first step was changing her name from Eilleen to Shania. A common misconception states that the reason she chose the name Shania was that it was an Ojibwa word that meant 'on my way', although it was later indicated that this was merely an urban legend. Whatever the reason, and whatever the meaning, the name stuck, and it ended up being the name she used when she recorded her self-titled debut album later that year. The album initially didn't sell that well, but it did spawn a couple of minor hits with “What Made You Say That” and “Dance With The One That Brought You” in the United States. The album did better in Europe, and Shania ended up winning Country Music Television Europe's Rising Video Star of the Year award in 1994. By the end of 1993, Shania Twain had found love with music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, and the two tied the knot in December 1993.

This union would also spawn a creative partnership in addition to a romantic partnership, as Lange and Twain worked together on Shania's sophomore album “The Woman In Me”, which was released in 1995. The first single, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” was a modest hit, peaking at #11 on the country music charts. But then her second single ended up becoming her very first number one hit.

Yes, “Any Man Of Mine” is considered to be Shania's biggest breakthrough hit. But there were others from the album that did very well. A total of six singles were released from the album, four of which topped the charts. Shania Twain had arrived on the scene, and she was showing no sign of leaving any time soon.

This was definitely made evident with Shania's third album, “Come On Over”, which was released on November 4, 1997. Nobody knew how huge the album would be when it was first released, but just listen to the statistics surrounding this album.

  • Twelve singles out of sixteen total were released as singles between 1997 and 2000.
  • The album has sold 40 million copies since its 1997 release date.
  • The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard County Music Album Charts, and stayed on top for fifty non-consecutive weeks.
  • The album stayed in the Top 10 for 151 weeks! That's just under THREE years!
  • The album was released in two different versions, one country themed, one pop themed. It was designed to be a country/pop crossover effort for Twain.
  • The album did incredibly well in Australia, reaching 15 times platinum and spending 19 weeks on top of the charts. It remains, to this day, the best selling album in Australia.
  • #1 singles from the album included “Love Gets Me Every Time”, “You're Still The One”, and “Honey, I'm Home”.

  • You're Still The One” ended up becoming Shania's biggest hit on the album. Not only did it become a huge hit on the country charts, but it became her highest charting Billboard 100 single, peaking at #2.

Shania would end up releasing one more album, “Up!” in late 2002, a year after she gave birth to her son, Eja.

But then around 2008, Shania's life would end up becoming a soap opera of sorts. Around that time, Shania's marriage to Robert “Mutt” Lange had collapsed after Twain had found out that he had been cheating on her with a woman named Marie-Anne Thiebaud. To complicate things further, Marie-Anne was the best friend of Shania.


I can only imagine how hurt Shania must have been, but in the end, she ended up holding her head up high as she divorced Lange in June 2010. But just six months later, the story took an interesting twist, suddenly becoming like a country music song coming to life, as Shania had fallen in love with Marie-Anne's ex-husband, Frederic Thiebaud! They ended up getting married New Years Day, 2011 in Puerto Rico.

These days, Shania is busier than ever before. She still has plans to release her fifth album even though it has been a decade since her last album of original material. Until then, she is set to perform a two-year long show in Las Vegas entitled “Still The One”, set to debut in December 2012. She has also started up her own reality program on the Oprah Winfrey Network entitled “Why Not? With Shania Twain”, as well as coming up with her own fragrance line.

She is also one of the few entertainers to have stars on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2011) and Canada's Walk of Fame (2003). And in Timmins, Ontario, not only did she receive the key to the city, but she also has a street and a convention center named after her!

Not bad for a gal who started off singing in bars during third grade, huh?

That's our look back on August 28, 1965. Happy birthday, Shania Twain.

And, Mom and Dad...happy 47th wedding anniversary! 

NOTE:  I did promise that there was a precursor to choosing Shania Twain and how it would relate to September's Sunday Jukebox entries.  Well, next month, I'll be saluting the "Women of Country Music", so if you are a country music fan, definitely check this upcoming month out!

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