I Was Lucky That Fame Came to Me as an Adult ..the Madness Just Hits Kids like Britney and Things Can Turn Very Rough: Interview - Shania Twain; SHANIA TWAIN ON PLAYING 'BIG SIS' TO PRINCESS OF POP

The Mirror (London, England), November 4, 2002 | Go to article overview

I Was Lucky That Fame Came to Me as an Adult ..the Madness Just Hits Kids like Britney and Things Can Turn Very Rough: Interview - Shania Twain; SHANIA TWAIN ON PLAYING 'BIG SIS' TO PRINCESS OF POP


Byline: JANE RIDLEY

JUST a few months ago Britney Spears was veering out of control.

The trauma of being dumped by boyfriend Justin Timberlake led to Britney embarking on wild partying which horrified fans used to her squeaky-clean image.

No-one dared to tell the Princess of Pop she was behaving like an idiot. No-one, that is, except Britney's greatest idol, the singer Shania Twain.

Shania, or "Big Sis" as Britney calls her, told her to stop her outrageous antics and tantrums before the public turned against her.

"I guess you just have to know when to take time out," says Shania. "You have to get your life back into perspective. Fame can be a very dangerous thing and it is very easy to let it go to your head.

"I thought it was a very good idea that Britney take a break from the business altogether and so did she. It was absolutely the best thing to do.

"She'll get through all this and she'll be fine. She's a great kid and now she's learned just how hard things can be."

Shania took Britney under her wing when she was just an unknown pop wannabe.

Her husband, music producer Mutt Lange, was called in to help on Britney's debut album and the starry-eyed teenager and the famous country star developed an extraordinary bond.

Shania, 37, whose worldwide hits such as That Don't Impress Me Much and Man! I Feel Like A Woman, have earned her pounds 100million, is one of the most reclusive stars in the business.

She happily admits that she would rather muck out her horses than mix with other celebrities but Britney Spears became like a little sister to her.

She says: "Britney wasn't Britney Spears when I got to know her. None of that stuff had even happened yet.

"She really impressed me because she was so dedicated and eager to learn. She's a really sweet kid with a good heart and a very strong family.

"I think her mother is wonderful and I admire the relationship they have. It's very strong."

In the past five years Shania has watched Britney grow from awkward teenager to one of the world's biggest pop stars.

She has also watched Britney's perfect world collapse. After being dumped by Timberlake, Britney drowned her sorrows, partying hard with a whole new set of showbiz friends.

The superstar who once told the world she didn't agree with sex before marriage and prayed every night was pictured falling out of nightclubs, cigarette in hand and sticking two fingers up at her fans.

Shania says: "Things can get rough in this business and sometimes it can be very hard.

"I lead a separate life. I don't hang out with any other celebrities, I don't even read about them but of course I knew what was going on.

"It's really tough for someone like Britney who has had to grow up in the spotlight to learn to deal with all this fame baloney.

"I was lucky. It didn't happen to me until I was an adult. I was in my 20s when I got my first record deal and almost 30 when things went really wild.

"I knew right from the start I didn't want to be part of the circus that goes with this business.

"It's different for Britney. The madness just hits and you have to learn to cope. Sometimes you have to listen to other people."

She smiles: "But Britney's not going to go haywire and be all eccentric, she's going to get back into things and get on with doing what she does best.

"She's growing up and she's going to come back stronger than ever. She's a special girl."

Shania admits that living Britney's life would be her biggest nightmare. She and Lange live on a vast estate in Geneva, Switzerland, with their one-year-old son Eja.

The singer is so keen on her privacy that although she is famous worldwide, none of her records are released in Switzerland and she never allows any publicity material to be shown there. …

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