Originally published in the June 4, 1996 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
As waiters scurry about, catering to vacationers, Shania Twain sits beneath an umbrella at a cafe table of the Monaco Beach Hotel, just steps from one of the world’s most beautiful harbors.
Despite her elegant surroundings, the Canadian-born country star is not in Europe to rest under the Mediterranean sun, basking in her recent success.
She’s busy wearing out the batteries on her cellular phone, conducting interviews with stateside reporters, with her overworked manager, Patty Lou Andrews, and publicist, Sandy Neese, at her elbows.
The two-day stop in Monaco is a working trip, and an important one — she carries country music’s flag to the international stage.
Before a worldwide audience, Shania shared the stage with the king of pop, Michael Jackson, Hootie & The Blowfish, Diana Ross, Celine Dion and Alanis Morissette to pick up a 1996 World Music Award from Princess Grace’s son Prince Albert.
In addition to her trophy, naming her the World’s Best-Selling Country Female Artist, Shania sang her latest No. 1 smash, “You Win My Love.” The awards show is set to air on ABC-TV on June 3.
Shania told COUNTRY WEEKLY she was proud to be carrying country music’s banner on the show, expected to be seen by 900 million viewers worldwide.
“Hopefully, it will do something. It’s hard to say how much three or four minutes on international television will be absorbed by the people viewing it around the world, but I think the music I’m performing is something they can relate to,” she said.
“Country music here in Monaco is not really as popular as pop music is,” Shania added. “Maybe the fact that the music I’ll perform has a pop sensibility to it will help people realize that country music isn’t necessarily what they think it is.
“It has changed a lot over the past few years, and it encompasses many different influences that it didn’t have several years ago.”
Shania should know. Her sizzling brand of country-pop, liberally laced with sexy dance moves and figure-hugging costumes, has skyrocketed her to the summit of country. In little more than a year, her album *The Woman in Me* has sold more than 7 million copies.
At last official count, 6 million copies have been bought in the United States, putting her album in a tie with Patsy Cline’s *12 Greatest Hits* as the most popular ever created by a female country artist. The tie won’t last long — Shania’s album is still near the top of the country and pop charts.
Prince Albert invited Shania to perform at his awards ceremony May 8. Shania was thrilled to meet the prince a day earlier at a special luncheon reception on the outdoor deck of the Monaco Beach Hotel, next to the scenic harbor of the 370-acre principality.
“I’m very excited about meeting the prince,” Shania bubbled, minutes before she walked over to the prince’s table and greeted him in fluent French.
The prince, smiling, stood up and thanked her for coming to Monaco, then told her how much he liked her singing . . . all in English.
Earlier, as Shania sat beneath an umbrella at the cafe, the 30-year-old singer said she was delighted that she made the trip to Monaco. “The people are wonderful,” she said. “I love the French language and the food is fantastic. The people of Monaco are very proud of their food, and even the way they present food is beautiful.”
Under the reign of Prince Ranier, Monaco has become one of the world’s wealthiest countries, although it is also one of the tiniest, tucked into a small corner along the Mediterranean between France and Italy.
After the luncheon, Shania went to rehearse her appearance on the show, which was staged the following night. There, she sat in the same row with the prince, his sister Princess Stephanie, and the other performers.
Shania carried the country music torch alone — Garth Brooks, busy with his U.S. tour, was not present to pick up his award as the World’s Best-Selling Country Male Vocalist.
Despite her hectic schedule — rehearsals, interviews and public appearances — hard-working Shania managed to tour some of the principality before flying out of Monaco on May 9. She liked what she saw.
“When I arrived here, my first impression was, and this may surprise some people, that it reminds me of Bel Air, California, but of course it’s a lot older,” she said. “It’s like Bel Air, maybe 200 years from now.
“Obviously, everything here is scaled down, much smaller than in America, and the streets are much narrower. But it’s very lush here, and very quaint, with a lot of hills and winding roads. It’s very beautiful.”
Spoken like a true ambassador of goodwill for country music.
For someone who didn’t create a visible ripple in country until a year ago, Shania Twain has amassed an amazing number of awards and other honors.
The sensational Canadian singer made an inauspicious start in 1993 with her self-titled debut album. But her second album, *The Woman in Me*, pushed the outer limits of success. Fans have snapped up more than 7 million copies of the hit-filled album.
With the album’s success, Shania was able to take up a new hobby — collecting awards. Here’s what she’s won so far:
- American Music Awards: Favorite New Country Artist, 1995
- Grammy Award: Best Country Album, *The Woman in Me*, 1996
- Canadian Country Music Association Awards: Female Vocalist, 1995; Album of the Year, 1995; Single of the Year, “Any Man of Mine,” 1995; Video of the Year, “Any Man of Mine,” 1995; Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) Song of the Year, “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” 1995
- Country Music Television/Europe: Rising Star, 1993; Video of the Year, “Any Man of Mine,” 1996; Female Artist of the Year, 1996
- ABC Radio Networks Country Music Awards: Female Video Artist of the Year, “The Woman In Me”, 1995
- RPM’s Big Country Awards (Canada): Outstanding New Artist, 1995
- Academy of Country Music Awards: Top New Female Vocalist, 1996; Album of the Year, *The Woman in Me*, 1996
- Blockbuster Entertainment Awards: Favorite New Country Artist, 1996
- Great British Country Music Awards: International Rising Star, 1996
- Juno Award (Canada’s version of the Grammy): Country Female Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year, 1996
- Diamond Award (Canada): For becoming the first female Canadian country artist to sell 1 million albums in her native land.
In addition to the slew of awards, Shania was named one of *People* magazine’s 25 Most Intriguing People in 1995. She was also voted “The Sexiest Woman Alive” in a recent poll of listeners by nationally syndicated radio talk show host Steve Szaban of The One-on-One Sports Radio Network, beating out supermodel Kathy Ireland, Demi Moore and *Friends* star Jennifer Aniston, the other finalists.