Donna Huber recalls working in her small-town bakery in Ontario back in the mid-1990s, and how folks would comment on her resemblance to Shania Twain.
Huber would thank them, taking it all in stride even though at the time she wasn’t aware of who Twain was.
Then one day, during a shopping trip, she saw Twain’s face on countless magazine covers. It all clicked. Twain had recently shot to global stardom via The Woman in Me album, so her face was virtually everywhere.
And the rest is history.
On Dec. 10, Huber brings Shania’s Christmas to Lacombe Performing Arts Centre. Besides offering up some classic holiday tunes, she’ll be delving into a bevy of Twain’s instantly recognizable hits.
Looking back, Huber wouldn’t have ever imagined her life would take this turn.
“When I was young, I was super shy,” she explained. “To go on stage in front of a bunch of people was just not an option for me. I didn’t even think about it.”
Still, she liked to sing at home by herself through her growing-up years.
“I did love music. But to sing solo? No. That wasn’t even in my mind at all.”
Besides, there was plenty else that would eventually keep her very busy. By the time the early 1990s rolled around, she owned a bakery.
“People would say I looked like Shania Twain, and I would say thank you so much, but I had no idea who they were talking about.”
Huber had little time for TV, pop culture or finding out much about the entertainment world during those hectic days.
“But people kept on saying it. It was so crazy,” she said with a laugh.
She eventually relocated to Sudbury, and the comments about her resemblance to Twain continued even more.
“It was unbelievable.”
Huber then started to think about a new direction in life.
She contacted a manager who knew about tribute acts to explore some possibilities.
At first, he wasn’t interested. But Huber didn’t give up.
She would spend hours practicing Twain’s catalog of hits, and gradually, she started to understand the nuances of Twain’s vocal delivery.
“Also, because I was so shy, I thought this is a good way to come out of my shyness,” she said.
Meanwhile, her vocal practice continued.
She’d check in with her sister, who would say she wasn’t quite there yet vocally.
About a month later, she played her cover of Twain’s God Bless the Child, and her sister thought it was Twain, but it was actually Huber.
“I mailed the tape to the agent — the guy who said no — and he phoned me and said I’m coming to Sudbury right now. You can do this.”
As mentioned, a whole new path opened up for Huber.
Her show has been described as the world’s leading Shania Twain tribute show for decades and is endorsed by the star herself.
She has also performed across Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and the Middle East, and appeared on TV specials on Bravo, CBC, and TNN.
For Huber, it’s also something of a personal journey. She has a tremendous amount of admiration for not just Twain’s artistry but for the star’s strength and courage in overcoming a number of obstacles in her life.
“I call the show a tribute to her because she is so amazing,” she said. “It’s an honour, because it’s her.
“She’s so confident, so beautiful and so kind-hearted,” she said, adding she also had the opportunity years back to meet Twain at a luncheon in Twain’s hometown of Timmons, Ont.
“She said she was happy I was doing this, and that she felt honoured,” said Huber, who treasured the moment to chat. “She’s awesome.”
Ultimately, for Huber, there has also been no looking back. The role fits her like a glove.
“People are so happy to hear her music,” she said. “And it’s so awesome that I have the privilege to sing her songs.”
For tickets, head to lacombeperformingartscentre.com/events or they can also be purchased at the Mary C. Moore Public Library.