French-Canadian star Celine Dion was probably your favorite singer throughout the ’90s when she produced the second best-selling single ever by a female artist. Amazingly, Dion started her career at the young age of 12 and released her first chart-topping single by the time she turned 21. This was all thanks to someone very particular in her life. However, later in her career, things would take a turn for the worse in her private life, forcing her to put her career on hold and carry a burden that would change her life forever. Read on to learn how she overcame the most heartbreaking challenge of losing her husband and moved on with her life.
1. An Icon Is Born
In a small town outside of Montreal, one of the stars of the century was born. Celine Dion’s family was a raucous one – she was the youngest of 14 siblings – but it was also tight-knit. The fascinating part is that each of the siblings was musically gifted.
Even at a young age, though, Celine stood out from the rest. Her talent would eventually lead her into a unique relationship with someone in the industry – someone older and wiser who had the power to change her life forever.
2. Family Band
Celine Dion’s parents, Adhemar and Therese, were probably the best parents a kid could ask for. Probably because they did something very peculiar with their family, and for Celine, it turned out to be the best thing they could have ever done.
Instead of signing up their 14 children for hockey lessons or teaching them to fish, Adhemar and Therese decided to hand them musical instruments. This decision transformed the whole Dion family into a band that toured French-speaking Canada while Celine was still an infant.
3. Celine Dion Wasn’t Planned
It might be hard to imagine a world without Celine Dion today, but as Adhemar and Therese’s fourteenth child, she wasn’t planned. The family was very much struggling financially as it was and couldn’t really afford another little rascal running around.
When Celine came, her parents had to find creative ways to absorb her into the family. Indeed, baby Celine slept in a cabinet drawer because all the beds were taken. But who said children have to be spoiled to succeed? Wait until you learn what Celine did just a few years later.
4. Rocking The Bar At Age Five
By the time the young Dion turned five, her parents opened a piano bar in Quebec called Le Vieux Baril – “The Old Barrel” in French. The family even lived on the property. She started singing, and patrons immediately began to notice her angelic voice.
Dion’s entire family realized she would outgrow the bar gig very quickly. Soon, they’d help her get noticed by someone bigger than their customers – someone who had the power to change her life forever in more than one way.
5. ‘It Was Only A Dream’ – No, It Wasn’t
The megastar-to-be began writing music before she even became a teenager. At age 12, Dion recorded her first song with the help of her mom and brother, Jacques. The song was titled “It Was Only a Dream” in French, but Dion’s success would be more than just a dream.
Jacques sent the tape to Canadian producer René Angélil. He was a well-connected man, and the family thought the single was a shot at turning Celine into a star. Indeed, Angélil’s interaction with Dion would be interesting. But you won’t believe what Jacques sent along with the demo!
6. The Note
When Celine Dion’s brother sent her song demo to René Angélil, he sent something with it. It was a note from their mother. Some pre-teens might be embarrassed when their parents step in to help in these situations, but sometimes, motherly charm can go a long way.
The note read: “This is a 12-year-old with a fantastic voice. Please listen to her. We want her to be like [Québécois star] Ginette Reno.” Dion waited for a response, and waited longer. It would take a different kind of nudging to convince him to listen to the tape.
7. Impressive Pre-Teen
René Angélil didn’t listen to the tape for weeks, so after it was sent another brother of Celine’s, Michael, took matters into his own hands. Michael decided Angélil was so busy that, if he wasn’t reminded about it, his sister’s tape would fall through the cracks. Eventually, he went to meet with the producer.
When Michael Dion visited Angélil a few weeks after Jacques sent the tape, he urged the producer to give it a listen. He did, and he was impressed enough to invite the pre-teen Celine to Quebec for an audition. The man she would meet at the audition would turn out to be more than just a producer, as you’ll soon learn.
8. Interesting Audition
Celine Dion was ecstatic to be going into a studio to audition in front of a producer that could get her foot in the door of the music industry. She had performed in front of small audiences before, but this was different.
This was nerve-racking. While she was singing, she began to tear up. “I knew then I had done a good job,” Celine Dion has since recalled. And she did. Soon, things between her and Angélil would get even more interesting.
9. Shivers & Contracts
After signing Celine Dion, René Angélil took her totally under his wing. He believed in her so much that he put everything on the line. “I had never heard or had a feeling come out of someone like this little girl I had in front of me,” he recalled of their first encounter. “I had shivers all over, you know.”
In fact, Angélil took extreme measures to get Dion’s career up and running, and those measures involved some personal sacrifices as well. Angélil even went to such lengths as to mortgage his own house to finance her first album. But would it pay off?
10. Onto The Small Screen
A year later, René Angélil took his public relations campaign for Celine Dion to the next level. At his behest, Dion took to television to display her talent. She sang on a popular Canadian talk show. It was her first time performing on the small screen.
The Québécois audience ate up Dion’s performance, and her name began to spread like wildfire. At this point, she was beginning to realize her music would take her places. She didn’t know exactly where, but what was certain from that point on was that Dion’s life wouldn’t resemble that of an average teen.
11. Help From Above?
After Celine Dion’s first TV appearance, successful lyricist Eddy Marnay, who had experience working with the likes of Barbra Streisand, began to take interest in the young artist. He even agreed to write songs for the young and budding star.
Marnay was just as blown away as Angélil was when he first heard Celine sing – only he was even more flattering. “It’s the voice of the Good Lord!” he said. It was a fitting compliment, considering where she would sing just a few years later.
12. Rocking Tokyo
With her manager and new songwriter’s help, Celine Dion stunned audiences all over Canada with her first hit, La voix du bon Dieu. She wouldn’t remain in Canada, though – or in the Western hemisphere, for that matter . It’s truly unbelievable how quickly Dion’s career progressed.
Just a year after her first TV appearance, she would win a gold medal in the 13th Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, singing a song for 115 million viewers. Dion would soon set her sights beyond the Francophone world. But first, a heavenly performance was in the works for the young star.
13. A Heavenly Show
In September of 1984, Celine Dion would perform in front of Pope John Paul II – and an audience of 60,000 – a surreal experience for any star, let alone a 16-year-old. The show was in Montreal, and Dion launched a major tour of Quebec after.
Beneath the surface of all this success, something was brewing in Dion’s private life. Something would happen between the teen star and someone very close to her, who was 26 years older her senior. No one was expecting this to happen, let alone Celine herself.
14. Like Michael Jackson
By the time Celine Dion reached the age when most people are just graduating from high school, she had recorded nine French albums and won multiple awards – including Felix and Juno awards, the Canadian equivalents of Grammys. She was truly flying high.
But it wasn’t enough for Dion – she was still hungry for more. She wanted to be as big as her idols. When Dion saw Michael Jackson performing on TV, she said, she knew she wanted the mega stardom he had. She didn’t anticipate just how she would achieve that, though.
15. Eurovision Win
In 1988, Celine Dion began her international takeover in Dublin, Ireland of all places. The Canadian star was representing Switzerland in the prestigious Eurovision singing contest when she performed in front of 600 million television viewers. It would be a good contest for Dion.
It was a close contest between Switzerland and the United Kingdom. But Dion took the cake for the Swiss, granting her a global name-recognition boost and even more fans. It was a huge success for Dion. The U.S., though, doesn’t participate or care about the contest. Winning over the land of the free became her next goal.
16. Looking South
Together, Celine Dion and René Angélil decided the star needed a year away from touring and performing to polish her English and prepare to expand her reach southward – to expand it to America. The place that would secure her the most fame!
At Angélil’s direction, Celine also changed her look. The result was her first English language album, Unison, which came out in 1990 and was a tremendous success. Through Dion and Angélil’s intimate time together, something else happened. By now, Dion and Angélil were developing an intimate relationship behind the scenes.
17. International Star
In 1992, Celine Dion achieved her not-so-long-awaited goal of breaking into international pop stardom, and it happened through one of the most classic movies of all time. Dion recorded the theme to everyone’s favorite animated movie Beauty and the Beast.
The song won a Grammy and appeared on her second English album, which was self-titled and undeniably a huge success. Like most great things, there was a down side. And this one was personal. The theme song caused a backlash among her most loyal fans for a surprising reason.
18. A Betrayal?
Celine Dion started her career in French, and so her original fan base was Francophone. As her breakthrough hit in English, Beauty and the Beast gave some Quebecois fans the impression that Celine had forgotten where she had come from – they saw it as a betrayal. Celine couldn’t let that fly.
So when she was offered the English Artist of the Year award at the Felix Awards, Dion refused to accept it. In her mind, she was French and always would be. Next, she’d show her appreciation to someone else that was important to her.
19. A Public Love Affair
Celine Dion rode on the wings of her album’s success the following year, big time. It was in 1993 that the singer would release The Colour of My Love. The color of Celine’s love was apparently whatever color her producer, René Angélil, happened to be wearing on any given day.
That’s right, it was right before she released her album that she revealed to the world that she was in love with her producer, whom she had met at the age of 12. It wouldn’t take long for the two to seal the deal.
20. It’s Official
Celine Dion married the love of her life a year after the album was released. Dion’s professional and love life had been merged for most of her adult life, and she was more than ready to make it an official union.
The two married at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, and the event was celebrated throughout Canada the same way a royal wedding is celebrated – it was even broadcast live on Canadian national television. But not everyone was excited about the extravagant event.
21. Motherly Reservations
Before Celine Dion told the world about her love for her manager, René Angélil, she first told her mother. She was less than enthusiastic about her daughter’s plans to marry a twice-divorced man who was significantly older than Celine was.
Indeed, some would argue her mother was right to be concerned about René’s age. Celine is even younger than one of her own step sons! Think that’s surprising? You won’t believe what Dion has recently revealed about one of her most popular songs, the theme song to Titanic.
22. Dion Hated “My Heart Will Go On” At First
While it is arguably one of Celine Dion’s best-known songs, she recently revealed she wasn’t a huge fan of the Titanic theme song My Heart Will Go On. In fact, her husband René Angélil had to convince her to record it.
“When I recorded it, I didn’t think about a movie; I didn’t think about radio,” Dion has told Billboard. “I thought, ‘Sing the song, then get the heck out of there.'” It’s a good thing she did – the soundtrack to Titanic became the best-selling soundtrack ever and the song itself won an Oscar. Soon, though, things would get a little more complicated for Celine.
23. Disaster Strikes
Celine Dion was at the height of her success and enjoying a magical honeymoon period with her new husband when she would get devastating news in 1999. Nothing could have prepared her for what she was about to hear: René Angélil husband was diagnosed with throat cancer.
Over time, Celine learned she would have to become her lover’s caretaker as he would lose his basic abilities. Now, she would take care of the man who, in a sense, always took care of her. The emotional distress didn’t end there.
24. Disastrous News
The 1990s were an emotional roller coaster for Celine Dion, with extreme highs and extreme lows. Eventually, she had the last straw. The time she discovered a fake story in National Enquirer was so traumatizing it prompted a pushback from the star.
The magazine falsely declared she was pregnant with twins just a year after her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and she wasn’t having any of it. Dion sued the magazine for $20 million, receiving an apology and a donation to the American Cancer Society. But something strange happened ten years later.
25. Déjà vu?
Either National Enquirer employed a psychic at the time, or it was just a bizarrely strange coincidence, but happier times came soon after the lawsuit. In 2001, Celine Dion and her husband had their first child. And in 2010, amazingly, Celine became pregnant with twins. It was a huge moment for Celine and René Angélil.
Even though René ‘s time was coming and Celine knew it, they remained as hopeful as could be. The star assured her husband that even when he departed the world, he’d be watching from above. It would come soon, and it would be devastating.
26. The Day It Happened
Celine Dion was performing on the day it happened. It was January 13, 2016 – the day her husband lost his battle to throat cancer at the age of 73. René Angélil had said that he wanted to die in Celine’s arms, but she didn’t want to wake him when she returned from her show.
It was heartbreaking for Celine, but she prepared her children for the loss before it happened and explained their father’s passing to them in a very creative way: she told them Angélil had “gone up” into the sky, floated away on balloons and wouldn’t be returning. Celine was devastated, but she wouldn’t remain a grieving widow forever.
27. Another Man?
René Angélil was undoubtedly the love of Celine Dion’s life, and his death weighed on her and her family greatly. After all, this was the man who helped her build her entire career, guiding her through tough times and bringing her to the forefront of pop culture.
It was controversial for some, therefore, when Dion was spotted by paparazzi over a year later walking arm-in-arm with another man. To top it off, the mystery man looked significantly younger than Dion. So who was the new guy? Merely a friend, or more?
28. Her Backup Dancer
Celine Dion was in Paris when she was spotted by French paparazzi, outside the Ritz Hotel. Just who was the hunk she was with? It turns out the 49-year-old Celine was with a man named Pepe Muñoz, who has since been identified as one of her backup dancers.
The 32-year-old Spaniard was brought in to dance with Dion on a European tour she was doing at the time, after he was recommended by her butler’s wife. But what does it mean? Are the two lovers or just professional friends?
29. Are They A Thing?
Pepe Muñoz, who is also an Instagram fashion illustrator, told Vogue that he has “always loved [Celine Dion’s] music.” For Dion’s part, when she first saw his fashion illustrations, she was so impressed “she started crying.” That’s a pretty intense reaction.
Muñoz told Vogue that his favorite illustration that he has ever done is of Dion in “the Rodarte lace dress with the floral embroidery when she’s holding a banana.” Dion also seems to have been giving the young man more tasks at her shows.
30. Adapting To The Times
The Canadian superstar to this day makes headlines, and not only for her music. Dion went viral in the summer of 2018 for a photo she posted on her Instagram account to her 2.4 million followers – and it was spectacular.
The photo, in which Dion posed in a power stance wearing a bright yellow suit, became an internet sensation when filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry joked about her pose, asking his followers “What’s the name of this mixtape?” It seems Celine Dion is the kind of star who goes viral, even by mistake.
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