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Associated Press
In this photo released by NBC, singer Shania Twain appears on the "Today" show to talk about her new book "From This Moment On," Wednesday, May 4, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

The first Shania Twain song I ever heard was "Any Man of Mine." I remember exactly where I heard it: in the car, driving into Salt Lake City with my mom, sister and a friend from our neighborhood up in Bountiful. This particular girl was three years older than me and someone I looked up to. She was beautiful, popular, sweet and, by golly, if SHE liked country music, then I liked it too.

I remember going to my first Twain concert at the E Center in West Valley with my parents. We had fantastic seats, and as I watched Twain perform, something inside me sparked. I want to do this! I thought. Not just sing, but write music, dance, really perform and make people forget about their stressful lives for an hour or two and just get lost in the music.

Fast-forward about six or seven years, and there I am on the No. 1 show in the country, "American Idol," begging the producers to let me sing a Twain song. Unfortunately, because of the newness of the show and the time restraints we had on getting songs cleared, I wasn't able to perform a song from my childhood idol. Now, another seven or so years later, there have been multiple contestants to belt out Twain's tunes. And although I wasn't able to pay tribute to such an amazing lady on the "Idol" stage, I was able to perform her song "Up!" on our 48-city tour, which had a special meaning to me.

I have always respected people like Twain who can write, sing, and perform their own music. Before I was old enough to understand the differences in vocal range and technique that varied from singer to singer, I did what most people do when they turn on the radio: I listened with my heart. I didn't know what her abilities were, whether or not she could belt out an E above high C in full voice or if she were "slightly pitchy" live. I just knew that when I listened to Twain, I felt something. She sang songs people could relate to. She sang songs that broke your heart, made you laugh and set you free. She sang songs you remembered.

It's been a few years since Shania Twain has been in the spotlight. After her marriage to producer Robert "Mutt" Lange dissolved in 2008, Twain took some time away from the glaring lights of the music industry to just be and find her voice again, which she says she "lost" during those difficult and life-changing years.

But Twain's a fighter. She's been my inspiration to keep going, to find the mute button to the negative voices that always seem to be blabbering around and to find my inner voice as well.

Perhaps what I love most about Twain isn't the fact that she still holds the record for her "Come On Over" album, being the best-selling album of all time by any female musician in any genre and best-selling country album of all time, selling more than 40 million copies worldwide, or that she's virtually untouchable as a stage performer, or even that she's about to premiere her OWN show called "Why Not? With Shania Twain" this Sunday, talking about her incredible success, heartache and journey of self-discovery.

What I love most about Twain is that she's real. I'm a fan for life, and I can't wait to be one of the most avid ones who welcome her back to country music and declares, "You're Still the One!"

Utahn Carmen Rasmusen Herbert, a former contestant on "American Idol," is a singer and wife and mother. She writes about entertainment for the Deseret News.