The Grammy winner, 56, discussed the fallout from a 2003 tick bite in her new Netflix documentary, Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl, which debuted on Tuesday, July 26. “My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy,” she recalled. “I was losing my balance. I was afraid I was gonna fall off the stage, and the stage is quite high.”
The “Any Man of Mine” songstress added that her fear affected her performances because it meant she had to change where she stood while singing. “I was staying far from the edge, I was adjusting what I was doing,” she explained. “I was having these very, very millisecond blackouts, but regularly, like, every minute or every 30 seconds.”
Twain’s symptoms also had a major effect on her singing abilities. “My voice was never the same again,” the CMA Award winner recalled. “I didn’t understand it.”
The Canada native released a greatest hits album in 2004 that included three new singles, but she was unable to record an LP’s worth of songs. “I thought I’d lost my voice forever,” the From This Moment On author recalled in the documentary. “I thought that was it. I would never, ever sing again.”
Luke Lewis, who ran Twain’s record label at the time, said that it was hard to see his client experience these health issues after so many years on top. “That was agonizing to watch,” he explained. “I’ve never felt for anybody so much. … She went to experts everywhere in the world.”
The “You Win My Love” singer eventually got the help that she needed, but she previously revealed that it took doctors years to figure out how exactly the illness had affected her instrument.
“I would say [it was] probably a good seven years before a doctor was able to find out that it was nerve damage to my vocal cords directly caused by Lyme disease,” Twain said during an August 2020 interview on the U.K. talk show Loose Women.
The country pop icon underwent open-throat surgery to stabilize her vocal cords. The procedure helped her sing again, but she still hears a difference from the way she sounded before the tick bite.
“My speaking voice is definitely the biggest effort. Sometimes I get a bit raspy … singing is actually easier,” she said in the same interview. “I have more power when I’m singing now. I have more character, I find. I enjoy singing again. Speaking is the more difficult challenge for me than singing, which, OK, I’ll take that!’”
Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl is now streaming via Netflix.