Shania Twain was the center of attention at the 2016 CMT Artists of the Year celebration, but what got her attention was a powerhouse performance by Kelsea Ballerini, R&B vocalist Jill Scott and pop star Meghan Trainor.
The three vocalists sang a medley of three of Twain’s biggest hits — “Still the One,” “Any Man of Mine” and “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” — during the special that premiered Thursday night (Oct. 20).
Twain received the biggest honor of the evening — CMT Artist of a Lifetime presented by RAM Trucks.
“Wow,” she said following the musical tribute. “Kelsea, Jill, Meghan … holy beep it! Really, that is the truest complement ever to hear my songs sung by such exceptional vocalists and performers. Thank you, girls. It’s wonderful. It made me cry the whole time. It’s ridiculous. But, anyway, I’m flattered.
“I’m glad that it made me emotional. I’m glad when my emotions come out. Music does that to me. I rely on music for that. It’s my best friend, in that sense. Music has always been my best friend. I love dogs … but for me personally, obviously, music is my best friend.”
Twain went on to elaborate on the importance of music in her everyday life and the lives of her fans.
“It never judges me,” she said of music. “It’s always there when I need it. When I need a laugh, it’s there. When I need a cry, it’s there. When I just want to dance, it’s there. When I want to be romantic, it’s there. It’s those emotions that I want to share with all of you. It’s why I live for music.
“First of all, I thank all the fans out there who live for music, too. It takes music lovers to understand the passion that we have as artists, and our job is to try to translate that to you.”
Twain is clearly aware of the role music videos have played in her career.
“I want to also thank CMT for being such a huge support all these years — even in my more rebellious years, in the beginning when I was probably considered controversial,” she said. “But you still put me up on the air. And I think you for that.”
As for her Artist of a Lifetime award, Twain reflected on her life’s journey.
“When I think of years, lifetime, my music life’s been very long actually already, I feel,” she said. “I’ve been a singer, an entertainer, for over 44 years. It’s a pretty long time. I started very young.”
She laughed and added, “I started really, really young, actually. My mother was my first booking agent and my first manager. She was very good at it. She booked me in bars and some strip clubs and things like that that would not be acceptable today. … So it’s wherever my mother could get me booked. Anyway, I’m very grateful to her and for that start.
But it wasn’t until much later that I got to know all you fans and the industry and CMT. You guys picked up where my mother left off. I thank you very much for your support and for being …. I don’t know … I would say being my parents through my adult years in this industry. It’s such a hard industry and takes so much work.”
Twain obviously knew she was among friends during the special.
“I just feel that I don’t want to get off this stage at this minute because I’m loving this moment,” she laughed.
“Sorry. I will apologize for taking so much time, but I won’t apologize for this moment. I’m thrilled to be here. I love music and I hope it carries on for many more years in my life.”