Unbearable Tragedy Changed Shania Twain’s Life at 22

November 1st, 1987 is a date that may seem inconsequential to some. However, for Shania Twain, it was the date that she had to immediately grow up and begin taking responsibility for her family in a way she never had before. 

Raising a family is something that many little girls dream of, but one never thinks that they will raise the family that their parents had started. Shania Twain did just that and managed to have a successful music career, too.

The journey from where she started to where she ended up was far from easy, and she had many obstacles to overcome along the way.


Shania Twain was born Eileen Regina Edwards; however, when her mother and father divorced, and her mother remarried Jerry Twain, Shania’s surname changed as Jerry adopted her and her sisters and his orphaned nephew. Jerry also had a son of his own.

Shania’s mother, Sharon, and Jerry now had five children. Shania, her sisters Carrie Ann and Jill, and her brothers Mark and Darryl. Darryl was Jerry’s nephew, but he was treated as one of their children after being adopted by Jerry and Sharon.

The Twain family was not wealthy while Shania was growing up, and she revealed that there were times in her childhood where the family did not even have any food to eat. Although Jerry was Shania’s adoptive father, she called him father and treated him as her father.

However, the relationship between Shania and her father was strained at best because of the abuse that he exacted on Sharon and the children. Shania revealed that her father was like two people and tried to protect her mother from verbal and physical abuse.

By the age of twelve, Shania had begun performing on TV, at community events, and in clubs to provide some more money for her family. This allowed Shania to explore her talent and feed her family when her father was unemployed.

Although Shania was abused physically, verbally, and allegedly sexually by her father, she has said that there was a lot of love in her household while she was growing up. The struggles they faced only brought them closer together.


At just 22 years old, Shania was still trying to make it in the music game. She had been in and out of bars and pubs and was singing with whichever band would have her and was getting gigs so that she could contribute some money toward her family’s needs.

Shania Twain holding the awards she received at the 31st Annual “Academy of Country Music Awards” in California, 1996 | Photo: Getty Images

When he could find work, Shania’s father was a lumberjack. On the afternoon of November 1st, 1987, Jerry and Sharon were traveling a remote logging road to a job site when they were involved in a head-on collision with a truck loaded with timber.

1987 was a tragic year for the Twain family because all five Twain children lost both of their parents. Shania was the one to step up and take care of her siblings, even though she was not the eldest child.

Shania Twain performing a soundcheck for “The David Letterman Show” in New York, 1996 | Photo: Getty Images

Jerry and Sharon were both killed instantly at the ages of 40 and 42. At the accident, Shania’s siblings were in her hometown while Shania was in Toronto. Shania’s phone rang, and her friend took the call, but Shania instantly knew that something terrible had happened.

While Shania took the call from her sister and received the news about her parents, her other sister told her brother, who had just walked into the house, what had happened. Shania’s other brother was involved in the accident, too but survived.

Shania Twain and her sister at the Shania Twain Hollywood Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony in Hollywood, 2011 | Photo: Getty Images

At just 13 and 15 years old, Shania Twain’s younger brothers needed to be cared for, and neither of her sisters was in a position where they could take care of the family on their own, so Shania stepped up and began taking care of the young family.


Shania began working as a performer in bars and pubs at just eight years old. Her mother was the one who pushed her to explore her talent and helped to get her gigs that would eventually begin paying her.

Finally, in 1983 Shania got a break and was hired to be the lead singer of a rock band touring. This was, of course, not her chosen genre of music, but Shania has said that until she became famous, she sang whatever paid the bills.

However, when the accident happened, Shania had to take over the responsibility of looking after her siblings and let go of her music dream for a while. Shania did this, but it wasn’t long before she was discovered again.

A few years after receiving the tragic news of her parents passing away in the crash and having to take over the care of her siblings, Shania was discovered and finally made it big. This was her true big break.

The first Shania Twain song that became popular was “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under,” and her career took off. She became the best-selling female country singer in history and had finally made it to fame, just like her mother had always wanted.


To provide for her brothers, Shania turned to one of her mother’s oldest friends for advice. Mary Bailey helped Shania become a singer in a Vegas-style show that allowed her to provide for her family and keep singing.

Shania Twain holding two Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal in LA, 1999 | Photo: Getty Images

However, while Shania was working to keep her family fed, her brothers were having some troubles of their own. Understandably, the boys had unresolved trauma and had turned to mischief to help quell their sadness.

By the time the boys were in their twenties, and Shania had become famous in her own right, the boys were arrested for breaking into a car dealership, and one of them was charged with mischief and assault of a police officer.

Shania Twain at the 38th Annual “Academy of Country Awards” in Las Vegas, 2003 | Photo: Getty Images

If the boys had been anybody else’s siblings, the incident would’ve been dismissed as soon as the boys had been sentenced. However, because they were the siblings of Shania Twain, it became major news.

Shortly after her brothers had been sentenced and imprisoned, her sister Jill was in trouble with the law for setting fire to her ex-boyfriend’s property. With all the attention around the Twain family from the law, the headlines were getting to Shania.

However, Shania used music as an escape and continued to produce records. She continued her career until she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and a vocal disorder called dysphonia which prevented her from singing for fifteen years.

In 2017, Shania Twain made a long-awaited comeback by performing and sharing her love of music with the world.


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