Shania Twain discusses how much her divorce from ex-husband Robert "Mutt" Lange impacted her in her upcoming Netflix documentary, Not Just a Girl. "It was similarly intense to losing my parents," the "From This Moment On" singer, 56, said in a trailer released July 20. "I thought I had lost my voice forever. I thought that was it."
The two met after Lange contacted Twain once he saw her 1993 music video "What Made You Say That." In 40 Days That Shaped Country Music, Twain explained, "He called me up and said, 'Look, there's a quality in your voice that I really like." She added, "He said, 'You know, we really should get together and see what we can do as songwriters.'"
Many high-profile artists have worked with Lange, including AC/DC, Maroon 5, Bryan Adams, Lady Gaga, and Muse. South African producer had Twain infuse her music with a more pop sound. "As a producer, [Mutt] is very much a director," Twain told The Guardian. "He was driving the direction of the sound. He didn't drive the direction of my voice and never tried to change me ... He drove the instrument choices."
Together, they created The Woman In Me album, which sold millions and won a Grammy for Best Country Album in 1996 (via Official Charts). Within six months of meeting face-to-face, the couple had married, and by 2001, Twain gave birth to their son Eja. "I think we make a great team," the Grammy-winning performer explained in 40 Days That Shaped Country Music. "Obviously, we love each other."
Twain discovered in 2008 that Lange had been having an affair with Marie-Anne Thiébaud, her personal assistant and close friend. She found out Lange had cheated on her after 15 years together. Twain admitted to being in denial and asked Lange and Marie-Anne for an explanation. "I called her up," Twain explained on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, adding, "I wanted to give her the opportunity to tell me herself without me accusing her ... And she said, 'No ... I don't understand why you'd think I would ever hide anything from you.'"
Marie-Anne and Lange denied having an affair. In response to Marie-Anne's refusal to answer Twain's calls and the change of her phone number, Twain emailed her. "Please leave us in peace ... If you could see me crying and suffering, maybe you would have pity. Find love somewhere else, from someone else that isn't hurting two families so much."
She suffered a physical toll due to her heartbreak, threatening her singing career. "Suffering does not discriminate. No one is above this type of low," she explained on Oprah. "There were days when I really just was like ... 'I just don't even really care if tomorrow comes."
Twain also noticed that her anxiety had a negative impact on her Lyme disease. She told Belfast Telegraph, "I lost my voice from Lyme disease. The stress of the divorce added to the dysphonia, which is a tension around the larynx. The divorce is part of it, but it wasn't the root of it."
Multiple throat surgeries threatened her career, and she feared losing her vocal cords. Though invasive surgery affected Twain's voice, it brought her a new "gravel" tone she enjoys. "I think it's kind of sexy ... I'm never going to have my old voice again. I'm okay with that. I've found a new voice. And I like it." After 17 years of marriage, the former couple divorced in 2010.
Despite the heartache, Twain leaned on Marie-Anne's ex-husband, Frédéric Thiébaud, for support in the aftermath, and the pair became closer due to their shared experience. "The person to comfort me was Fred [Thiebaud] because he's been through the exact same thing," she explained on Oprah.
A strenuous shared experience with Frédéric blossomed into unexpected love, Twain said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "We slowly became very, very good friends. We had many months of just trying to make sense of everything. Holding each other up was a very difficult time emotionally for both of us ... And really found something very beautiful in the end and unexpected." In 2011, she married the 52-year-old Swiss businessman.
The Netflix documentary also details how she successfully crossed genres from country music to pop. Twain had three consecutive diamond albums and sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. Not Just a Girl is available on Netflix starting July 26.