Also Credited As:Celine Marie Claudette Dion
|Celine Marie Claudette Dion on March 30, 1968 in Charlemagne, Quebec, CA|
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Céline Marie Claudette Dion was born on March 30, 1968 in Charlemagne, Québec, Canada. The youngest of 14 children of a close-knit musical family, Dion started singing French songs at age five - usually on top of tables in a restaurant owned by her parents - and became known in her hometown as "la p'tite Quebecoise" or "little Quebecker." When she was just 12 years old, Dion made a demo tape and sent it to music producer René Angélil, who signed her immediately, with the condition that he would have complete control over her career. He even mortgaged his house to finance Dion's 1981 debut album, La Voix du bon Dieu (The Voice of God). By age 18, Dion had seven albums to her credit, had scored numerous Felix and Juno awards, and won Ireland's Eurovision Song Contest; for the latter, her performance was broadcast live throughout Europe, the Middle East, Japan and Australia. At this time, Dion and Angélil decided it was the perfect time to grant the rest of the English-singing world an introduction to the Canadian chanteuse. Having hardly spoken a word of English, Dion took a crash course in learning and singing in what would soon become her new, second language.
In 1990, Dion released her American debut album, Unison, featuring the hit single, "Where Does My Heart Beat Now." But it was the theme song of Disney's hit animated movie, "Beauty and the Beast" (1991) that catapulted her into international superstardom. Included on Dion's second English-language album Céline Dion (1992), the single "Beauty and the Beast" won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1992, and helped album sales top more than 12 million internationally. She kept the momentum going with another top-selling album, The Colour of My Love (1993), which showcased breathtaking power ballads such as "The Power of Love" and her rendition of "When I Fall In Love," featured on the soundtrack of the hit romantic comedy "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Dion also sang the airy love song "Because You Loved Me," the theme song of the romantic drama "Up Close and Personal" (1996) starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeifer. The latter film-centric single was featured on her 1996 Grammy Award-winning album, Falling Into You, which showcased Dion's technical virtuosity on radio-friendly ballads such as her version of Jim Steinman's 1989 "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" and a remake of Eric Carmen's 1975 hit single, "All By Myself."
Not realizing her stardom was about to take a massive leap forward, Dion agreed to again sing a film soundtrack love song. Only this one would be special. With a five-octave soprano voice that floated effortlessly from sweet and refined to pitch-perfect high, Dion's vocals soared on the powerful ballad "My Heart Will Go On," the theme song to a movie many expected to sink upon arrival, James Cameron's "Titanic" (1997). The love story/disaster epic starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as star-crossed lovers aboard the infamous ship on her tragic maiden voyage. The song, interspersed throughout instrumentally by composer James Horner, effectively captured the intimate trauma of lost love amidst the historical catastrophe. Due to the unheard of success of the film - it would ultimately become the biggest moneymaker in cinematic history for several years before being unseated over a decade later by Cameron's "Avatar" (2009) - Dion was touched by the gilded epic, elevating her career to an new level of appreciation and recognition. Also featured on her 1997 album, Let's Talk About Love, the haunting love song became Dion's biggest hit and one of the best-selling singles in history - more than 50 million sold worldwide. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, "My Heart Will Go On" won the 1997 Academy Award for Best Original Song and dominated the Grammy Awards in 1999, earning Dion numerous accolades including Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. However, due to the overplaying and remixing of the omnipresent single for over a solid year, there would be a backlash to both the single and to Dion as well.
Dion's personal life made just as many headlines as her music, beginning with her 1994 wedding to Angélil, who was 35 years her senior. They started their professional relationship when she was 12 when he became her manager; they began dating shortly after she turned 19 and became engaged in 1991. The lavish wedding took place at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, Quebec. Marriage didn't slow down Dion's career. She performed to sold-out crowds all over the world and shared the stage with legendary musical icons like Luciano Pavarotti and Barbra Streisand. She appeared on the widely televised "Divas Live: An Honors Concert for VH1 Save the Music" (VH1, 1998) alongside Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain. Her status as one of pop music's biggest stars was further boosted when she sang "The Power of the Dream" (1996) at the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Dion ended the decade with the commercially successful album All the Way A Decade of Song (1999) featuring "All the Way," her ode to Frank Sinatra, as well as her heartfelt rendition of the 1972 Roberta Flack hit, "The First Time I Saw Your Face."
In early 2000, Dion announced that she was taking a break from the spotlight and that she and her husband had decided to use in-vitro fertilization after years of failed attempts to conceive. She also needed more time to care for her husband, who was diagnosed with throat cancer. On Jan. 25, 2001, Dion gave birth to their first child, Réne-Charles Angélil, whom she considered her "most amazing reward." In 2002, she released A New Day Has Come, her comeback album inspired by her new role as a mother. The following year, Dion took Las Vegas by storm with a much hyped musical extravaganza "A New Day " - an eye-popping fusion of entertainment, performance art, pageantry, and state-of-the-art technology. She and her family moved to Vegas for the duration of the show, which had Dion performing five nights a week at Caesars Palace's venue, The Colosseum, for three years. Created by Franco Dragone, the visual spectacle attracted millions of fans from around the world and earned Dion rave critical reviews, as well as praise from A-list celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Dick Clark, and Kathy Griffin. The sometimes cheesy, over-the-top show also received its fair of snickers from those in the anti-Dion critical camps. Dion had the last laugh, however, when the show ended in December 2007 with a more than $400 million haul.
After the studio album A New Day Has Come, Dion's subsequent albums were, for the most part, commercial successes but they received mixed reviews. Her songs also did not receive the airplay nor break any sales records like her previous work. But Dion's career was far from over. In 2007, she released the album Taking Chances, a pop-rock gem featuring her collaborations with various music producers and songwriters like Kara DioGuardi, the Eurythmics' David Stewart, and singer Ne-Yo. The following year, Dion launched a yearlong worldwide "Taking Chances" tour, which sold out every concert in the United States and Canada. In 2010, she released a documentary film about her tour entitled, "Celine: Through the Eyes of the World," featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Dion and her family as they traveled across five continents. On October 23 of that same year, Dion gave birth to twin boys, Eddy and Nelson, four weeks before her expected due date. Eddy was named after the late Eddy Marnay, who had produced Dion's first recordings, while Nelson was named after the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, whom Dion met while she kicked off her world tour in 2008. Just like with their first child, Dion and her husband were open about their long struggle to conceive and underwent six attempts at in-vitro in 12 months. Days after the twins were born, Dion announced that she was originally pregnant with triplets, but that she miscarried one.