Shania Twain Reflects on 'Grief' of Mutt Lange Divorce amid 'Scary' Lyme Disease in Netflix Documentary

Shania Twain said losing ex-husband Robert "Mutt" Lange felt "like a death," and she was "petrified" to record music again without him

Shania Twain is opening up about one the darkest periods of her life — during which she struggled with both a divorce and the effects of a Lyme disease diagnosis — in a new, career-spanning documentary.

The "You're Still the One" singer, 56, spoke candidly about both the end of her marriage to her producer, songwriting partner and husband Robert "Mutt" Lange, as well as the health woes she feared might end her career in the Netflix documentary Not Just a Girl, which premiered on Tuesday.

Not Just a Girl chronicles Twain's ascent from small-town Canadian performer to global superstar, and the film includes her reflection on her first time meeting Lange, whom she went on to marry in 1993.

"I don't know who this person is. I don't know his success yet. I just know that his name is Mutt Lange," she recalled of hearing the rock producer wanted to work with her. "I didn't want to be too forward [after meeting], but in my mind, I'm saying, 'Oh wow, if this guy made my music sound like that, that would be the dream.' Like, whoa."

Watch the Trailer for Netflix's Shania Twain Documentary Not Just a Girl
Shania Twain. Alexander E. Harbaugh

Eventually, they developed a successful partnership. With Lange on board as producer, Twain released the hit 1995 album The Woman in Me (featuring "Any Man of Mine") and its follow-up Come on Over two years later, the latter of which spawned hits including "You're Still the One," "That Don't Impress Me Much" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" and went on to become the best-selling album of all time by a female solo artist.

By 2003, she'd also released Up! (featuring "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!") and was touring to promote the record when the course of her career was changed by a tick bite she got while horseback riding.

"The tick was infected with Lyme disease, and I did get Lyme disease," she said. "My symptoms were quite scary because before I was diagnosed, I was on stage very dizzy. I was losing my balance, I was afraid I was gonna fall off the stage… I was having these very, very, very millisecond blackouts, but regularly, every minute or every 30 seconds."

Twain said she struggled with the illness' effect on her voice, as it gave her a lack of control over her vocals that she'd never experienced before.

"My voice was never the same again," she said in the documentary. "I thought I'd lost my voice forever. I thought that was it, [and] I would never, ever sing again."

Though Twain did eventually find a way to sing again, the star faced another setback during her recovery period when she learned that Lange, 73, was having an affair with her best friend Marie-Anne Thiébaud.

Shania Twain; Frederic Thiebaud
Shania Twain and Frédéric Thiébaud. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

"In that search to determine what was causing this lack of control with my voice and this change in my voice, I was facing a divorce. My husband leaves me for another woman," Twain recalled. "Now I'm at a whole other low. And I just don't see any point in going on with a music career."

Twain, who shares son Aja, 20, with Lange, said the pain of ending her marriage was similar to the emotions she felt when she lost both of her parents in a car crash in 1987 when she was 22 years old.

She and Lange eventually split in 2008, and the "Forever and for Always" singer went on to marry Marie-Anne's husband Frédéric Thiébaud in 2011.

"When I lost Mutt, I guess I thought…I was thinking that the grief of that was… It was similarly intense to losing my parents. And you know, it was like a death," she said. "It was like the death was the end, a permanent end to so many facets of my life. And I never got over my parents' death. So I'm thinking, 'S—, I'm never going to get over this.' Like…how do you get over that? So all I can do is determine how I'm going to carry on from there. How am I going to crawl out of this hole that I've fallen in? Just like that, you know?"

Though she feared what the studio might be like without Lange by her side, Twain eventually was able to write music again. In 2017, she released the album Now, which she later called her "favorite recorded work" she's ever done.

"It took a long time to be ready to write and record again," she said. "It was really more about taking independence, [and] just being able to listen to myself back on my writing tapes was difficult… It was an exercise of saying, 'Okay, look, you can't just not ever make music again because you don't have Mutt. You gotta just dive in.' And I was petrified, I really was."

Twain continued: "So now I said, 'Okay listen, I'm going to not only get back into the studio without him, I'm going to write all the music alone, and just discover myself again as individual creative, like I'd been all of my youth.'"

Not Just a Girl features music video clips, concert and archival footage and new interviews all centered around Twain's legendary country music career. The documentary was released the same day as a compilation album called Not Just a Girl (The Highlights).

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