If you’ve experienced a karaoke night, chances are one of the songs you belted out was a country/pop crossover hit by Shania Twain. The Canadian songstress has ruled the charts for years since her meteoric rise to fame.

However, most people have no idea of the many trials she weathered before everyone was blasting her tunes on the radio. The singer has been through a whole lot — even after her success — and that she’s still standing today is a testament to her strength.

Shania Twain was born Eilleen Regina Edwards in 1965 in Ontario, Canada. Her life had an incredibly rocky start — she was stillborn! The doctor almost pronounced her dead, but she finally began to cry just moments before.

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When Eilleen was two, her parents divorced. She never met her biological father, as he was never involved in the lives of her or her two sisters. Meanwhile, her mother married Jerry Twain, and he adopted all three girls as his own.

@shaniatwain / Instagram

Because of her stepfather’s heritage, Twain is an official member of the Temagami First Nation, the indigenous people of Bear Island in Canada. As a kid, little Eilleen spent time at the Matagami Reserve.

Life was far from easy for Eilleen. Her parents had a hard time keeping food on the table, and, adding to the discontent, her alcoholic stepfather was often abusive to her mother. Her mother experienced bouts of depression.

So in 1979, Twain convinced her mother to leave him, and they moved across town to a homeless shelter. In 1981, they returned to Jerry’s home, though their relationship continued to be extremely complicated.

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Despite all the violence and dysfunction, Twain has expressed her love and admiration for her stepfather. “He took us children in as his own. He worked hard for us, he took care of us the best he could,” she said.

When she was only 8 years old, she began singing at local bars for late-night crowds, and she earned a decent amount of money from the patrons drinking after last call. However, she didn’t love being in the dark and shady bars.

“I hated going into bars and being with drunks. But I loved the music, and so I survived,” she explained. Eilleen wrote her first songs, “Is Love a Rose” and “Just Like the Storybooks,” at the age of 10.

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But while she loved music, the singer had borderline crippling stage fright. Once, when she was performing as a kid, Twain got so nervous she actually wet her pants. She acted quickly, spilling a nearby glass of water on herself to cover up the accident.

Before she graduated high school and moved on to greener pastures, she worked at McDonald’s to help pay the bills. At the same time, Eilleen continued performing and taking singing lessons.

Twain also spent time working for her step-father’s re-forestation business, which meant she spent a lot of time in nature. This setting inspired her music “I would sit alone in the forest with my dog and a guitar and would just write songs,” she said.

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By her senior year of high school, she was touring with a band called Flirt and even missed her senior prom because of her demanding touring schedule. At the same time, her voice coach was making a huge impact on her life.

Ian Garrett was teaching her to sing during this time, but sadly Twain couldn’t pay for the lessons. In exchange, she would clean Garrett’s house from time to time. It didn’t take long for Twain to begin her climb to the top.

Canadian Academy of Music

In 1987, the singer got her first big break: The National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation asked her to appear for a fundraiser at Roy Thomson Hall in Ontario! She performed with stars like Bernadette Peters. She was on top of the world — until she received the worst news of her life.


That same year, Twain got the news that her parents had passed away in a fatal car accident. Devastated, she immediately moved back home to care for her younger siblings. She was obeying a haunting premonition.

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Twain recalled an eerie dream a few months before the accident where her mother asked her to “take care of things.” That she did, taking care of her siblings full-time, raising them herself.

When her siblings had all moved out and gone to college, Eilleen finally decided to focus on her music career once more. The first thing she did was change her name. She adopted the name Shania, which means “she’s on her way” in Ojibwe.

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She released her self-titled album in 1993. It caught the attention of actor Sean Penn and music producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Penn offered to direct a music video for her, and he gave her a little bit of money to keep her going.

Country Music Hall of Fame

Then producer Lange and Shania fell in love and got married right before they released her breakthrough album The Woman in Me in 1995. Years of success followed, and Shania experienced true stardom before her life changed forever in 2001.

Shania Twain

In 2001, she had her first child. Unfortunately, not long after, Twain got the heart-breaking news that her husband had been cheating on her with her best friend. The relationship ended abruptly, and she struggled with depression.

Shania Twain

Fortunately, she found love again and married Frederic Thiebaud. Unbelievably, he was the husband of her best friend who Lange cheated with! They were betrayed, but they found love together in the end!

@shaniatwain / Instagram

Now, Twain lives happily with tons of classic hits on her resume. She knows her life and path to fame was unconventional, but she has contemporaries in the country music scene that she can definitely relate to.

Faith Hill grew up in Mississippi, though, back then, she went by the name Audrey Faith Perry. Her mom, Edna, was a bank teller, her dad, Ted, a factory worker. They had a modest life, but the Perrys were a happy family.

Faith Hill / Instagram

From the beginning, Faith’s parents were open about her having been adopted. She may not have been biologically their child, but that didn’t matter. She was theirs, just the same as their two biological sons.

Faith Hill / Instagram

In fact, the Perrys had desperately wanted a daughter. Turning to a doctor friend for help, he promised to let them know if a little girl became available for adoption. Soon they got the call and little Faith joined the family!

Faith Hill / Instagram

But growing up, Faith felt compelled to know more about her roots. She said in an interview, “I didn’t know anyone I was related to, biologically, which gives you a sense of not knowing who you are.”

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When Faith questioned her mom and dad about her biological parents they told her a common story: Her birth mother had been having an affair with a married man and became pregnant, so she gave her baby up for adoption. Still, Faith had lingering questions…

Children’s Colorado

This sense of not quite belonging was a big connection Faith shared with her future husband, Tim McGraw. Besides their love of music, they both had complicated family histories.


Faith was raised by a loving family but always suspected there was more to her adoption story than she’d been told; Tim, meanwhile, had a more chaotic childhood. He’d experienced abuse from the man he believed to be his father, Horace Smith.

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Then when he was 11 years old, Tim discovered his birth certificate. In the space listed for the father’s name, his dad, the man who mistreated him, wasn’t listed. Instead, there was another name in his place: baseball player Tug McGraw.

Sports Illustrated

Turns out Tim’s mother had a brief relationship with the baseball star, and it resulted in a pregnancy. Tug wasn’t interested in fatherhood, and Tim’s mother kept the secret. In later years, they reconnected. Tug even lived with his son during the final year of his life.

One Country

Just like her future husband, Faith sought out answers on her own. As Faith’s musical talent became more evident, she was more and more curious about her birth parents. Had they been talented singers too? She daydreamed about being Elvis’ long lost daughter.

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When she was old enough, Faith moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams of being a country superstar, but that wasn’t her only plan. Living on her own for the first time, Faith pursued the truth, tracking down her birth parents.

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After years of wondering, Faith discovered that her birth mother was a woman named Paula Conway. She was 23 years old when Faith was born, and she was alive and well. But that’s not the only thing she learned…

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The narrative she’d held close all her life about her birth parents was false. Paula Conway hadn’t gotten pregnant as a result of an affair: she and her boyfriend Edwin White — her eventual husband — were just too young and unprepared for a child.

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Her birth parents even had another child. Faith had a brother, named Zachary. Her birth father, Edwin, tragically passed away in a car accident when Faith was ten years old.

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As far as musical gifts, Faith was the lone singer in the family. Though some of her artistic nature could be inherited from her parents, as her birth mother Paula was a talented painter.

Sounds Like Nashvile

Even with her family history revealed, Faith didn’t pursue a close relationship with her birth mother. She didn’t hold grudges either. In an interview she sympathized with the tough decision: “I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give me what she felt was a better chance.”


Tragically, in 2007 her birth mother Paula passed away. At that point, Faith and her biological mom had reconnected and just started to get to know one another. Faith mourned the chance to get to know her better, but was happy they had finally met.

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It’s never been publicly addressed why Faith’s parents kept the truth hidden from her, but it’s clear their intentions were always to do what was best for their daughter. “The most important thing to me is my family, and that was definitely taught from my mom and dad.”

Faith Hill / Instagram

Now, the happy couple walks the walk! Faith and Tim have one of the longest marriages in showbiz, and their obvious love for each other has cemented them in the country universe. The binding force that keeps them together after twenty years is no secret.

Faith Hill / Instagram

The singing duo put their family first. Even their careers are intertwined! They tour as a couple in an attempt to keep as much stability as possible. Not only for their marriage but for their three daughters, too. They might be famous, but much like all of us, it’s their pasts that connect them and keep them strong.

Faith Hill / Instagram

They might be famous, but much like all of us, it’s their pasts that connect them and keep them strong. And they aren’t the only celebs who know that parental love can come from any source.

John Lennon: This Beatle didn’t exactly have a cookie-cutter life growing up. John’s father was a sea merchant who was gone during his birth, and his mother left them both. Baby Lennon was taken in by his aunt and hardly saw his parents again.

Keegan-Michael Key: Funnily enough, Key was born to an interracial couple and was adopted by one as well. He has said that being mixed race is part of why he does sketch comedy. He always felt he was constantly switching roles.

Steve Jobs: There may have been a personal reason why Steve was so hungry for success: his adoptive parents were strict Calvinists, and his father was an abusive alcoholic. Jobs himself had four children.

Marilyn Monroe: With the identity of the father unknown, Marilyn’s mother Gladys placed her in foster care, where she bounced around for years. She eventually became a ward of the state when Gladys was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Eric Clapton: It was 1945, and Eric was born to a 16-year-old English girl and a 25-year-old Canadian soldier who was shipped off to war. For most of his life, Eric thought his actual grandparents were his mom and stepfather and his mother was his sister.

Nelson Mandela: The South African president’s father died of lung disease when Nelson was only 9, so he was raised by a tribe chief. He thought that he inherited his father’s “proud rebelliousness” and “stubborn sense of fairness.”

Ray Liotta: Since Ray always knew he was adopted, he did a show-and-tell report on his family for a kindergarten project. He found his biological mother in the 2000s, and she introduced him to one half-brother, five half-sisters, and a full sister.

Eleanor Roosevelt: After both of her parents died from diphtheria when she was 10 years old, she and her brother Hall were raised by their grandparents. Unfortunately, it left both children struggling with depression for years to come.

Bill Clinton: President Clinton’s biological father was a traveling salesman who had died in a car accident three months before Bill was born. His mother decided to study nursing shortly after Bill was born, so she left her son in the care of his grandparents.

Priscilla Presley: This actress’s biological father died in a plane crash when she was only six months old. Priscilla’s mother later remarried and pretended he was her father. Presley found out this family secret when she was looking through a keepsake box.

Snooki: Nicole Polizzi, better known as “Snooki,” was born in Santiago, Chile. She was adopted when she was six months old by Italian-American parents. When she took a DNA test she found out she had heritage from all around the world — except Chile!

Nancy Reagan: This former First Lady’s parents separated soon after she was born, and eventually divorced. After their separation, her mother traveled the country to become an actress, so Nancy was adopted and raised by her aunt and uncle for six years.

Nicole Richie: Look at Lionel Richie and Nicole’s mom Brenda Harvey-Richie and it’s fairly obvious Nicole was adopted. Her parents were friends of Lionel’s but couldn’t provide for her. After living with him for 6 years in her youth, he adopted her.

Ice-T: Our favorite rapper turned S.V.U. specialist had a rough childhood. His mom died of a heart attack when he was eight, and his father did the same when he was 12. He was mostly raised by his two aunts, which is how he ended up in L.A.

Michael Bay: Fortunately for this explosion enthusiast, he didn’t have a sad story about why he was adopted. It was all planned, and he moved in with his mom, a bookstore owner, and child psychologist, on the day he was born.

Frances McDormand: Along with two other siblings, Frances was adopted when she was one-and-a-half-years old by people from her biological parents’ church. Frances and her husband have paid it forward and adopted their son, Pedro, from Paraguay.

Lance Armstrong: After his parents divorced when he was two, Lance moved in with his mother who later got remarried to Terry Keith Armstrong. When Lance’s dad died, Terry offered to adopt him, and Lance was happy to take his last name.