She said, "I just, you know, I fell apart totally, just into shock for days and I just couldn’t let go of them."
Trigger Warning: The following article mentions child sexual abuse which some readers may find distressing.
When Shania Twain lost both of her parents in a single tragic event in 1987, she was just 22 years old. A recent edition of the podcast Making Space With Hoda Kotb featuring the country-pop legend Twain and TODAY's Hoda Kotb aired on TODAY on January 30. Twain had relocated to Toronto to pursue her studies as a computer programmer after growing up in poverty, hard at work on her "backup plan" in case her musical aspirations never took off.
On the day she learned of the news that her parents have passed, she experienced a range of emotions. She discussed the catastrophe that ended a challenging upbringing and fundamentally altered her life.
Shania Twain @ShaniaTwain opened up to @hodakotb about her first album in five years “Queen of Me,” recalls her difficult childhood and the moment she learned of her parents' death, and reflects on her career journey, from the struggles to the highlights. pic.twitter.com/t8RV2kjjhG— TODAY (@TODAYshow) January 30, 2023
"My sister had called me and told me that they died in a car accident," the Queen of Me singer recalled of learning the fate of her mother, Sharon Twain, and the stepfather who'd adopted her when she was a young child, Jerry Twain. She said, "I just, you know, I fell apart totally, just into shock for days and I just couldn’t let go of them."
The performer, who is 57, said she "lost a very important foundation" with the traumatizing accident. Twain has previously opened up about how abusive her household was in her childhood, including emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. In addition to this abuse, her family was in deep poverty and had trouble accessing food.
But through all that, she felt like she at least had a foundation, no matter how "rickety." She said, "It was still a foundation that I associated with. My whole life history was there, with them, and many of the associations fell along the way, away, after my parents died. It was so true that so much of my life was stemming from them being in my life — the good and the bad."
Twain moved back home to take on a new role in the wake of the death since three of her four siblings were still minors at the time. She became a caregiver to the then-children, and she still refers to them as her kids. "My younger sister was still living at home and my two younger brothers were still, you know, 13 and 14 years old," she said. "And we all agreed that they shouldn’t be separated. But no relatives were able to take both of them in. So the only way to keep them together was for us to stay together."
However, Twain's struggles just made her stronger, and her desire to become a singer was still very much alive. Six years after her parents' passing and when her younger siblings had reached adulthood, Shania Twain released her debut album in 1993, marking the beginning of a tremendously successful career.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Mike Coppola