Looks like she made it: 49 photos of Canadian country music star Shania Twain

One of the most successful Canadian musicians of all time, Shania Twain has sold more than 85 million albums worldwide and is regularly touted as one of the world’s most beautiful stars.

But life wasn’t always so peachy for the native of Timmins, Ontario. Born Eileen Regina Edwards, the singer was raised in poverty by her mother (her father left when she was two), where she regularly went hungry and had to make do with homemade clothes fashioned by her grandmother. As a teenager, she played gigs to help support her family, all the while dreaming of making it big in the music industry someday.

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In 1987, tragedy struck. Shania was 21 and on the cusp of launching her musical career when her mother and stepfather were killed in a car crash, leaving the young singer to care for her two half-brothers. “I knew I had to look after my younger brothers,” she said. “I really needed to keep the family together. I just put all my singing ambitions on hold until the rest of the family had grown up.”

Thankfully, Shania’s hard work, determination and perseverance paid off. In 1993, she moved to Nashville and changed her name to “Shania,” an Ojibwe word for “I’m on my way,” – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Here, as Shania Twain celebrates her 49th birthday (and perhaps an upcoming album and tour!) Hello! Canada looks back at Shania’s incredible life and career in photos.

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