Celine Dion’s musical career spans more than 30 years. And while she’s perhaps best known for her triumphant performance of “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic,” Dion’s life and work can’t be narrowed down to one song.
In fact, by the time her “Titanic” success hit, the singer was already a veteran performer. Here are some interesting facts about Celine Dion that go beyond just the tip of the iceberg.
Celine Comes From A Large Family
Celine Dion was born on March 30, 1968, in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada. Her parents, Adhémar and Thérèse, had a large family — Celine was the youngest of 14 children!
Celine’s Mother Became A National Celebrity, Too
Thérèse Tanguay-Dion, now 91 years old, started out as a stage mother to her talented young daughter. However, in her later years, she launched her own line of food products in addition to a popular Canadian cooking show. She earned the nickname Maman Dion.
Her First Public Performance Was At Age 5
Many members of her family were musicians, and young Dion loved to go watch them sing. “I’d sleep on chairs in restaurants and bars while they sang,” she said. When she was just 5 years old, Celine sang in her family’s piano bar.
She Wrote And Recorded Her Own Demo Tape
When she was 12 years old, Celine Dion wrote a song, “Ce n’était qu’un rêve,” and recorded it onto a cassette tape. Her mother sent the tape to famous Canadian music producer René Angélil. When he met her in person, he immediately knew he had to sign her.
She Won Her First International Competition At Age 14
By the time she turned 18, Celine was already becoming an international sensation. She won the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, in 1982. She was only 14 years old at the time.
She Was The Eurovision Champion
Representing Switzerland, Celine Dion took home the grand prize at the 1988 Eurovision contest, one of the top talent competitions in the world. The finals were broadcast live to 600 million people internationally from Dublin, Ireland. Many consider this performance the first big step in her career.
She Recorded Nine Albums By Age 18
The young singer had a fierce work ethic. By the time she turned 18, she had nine French albums on her resume. She was the first Canadian to be awarded a gold album in France.
She Once Performed For The Pope
Dion was honored to be chosen to sing for Pope John Paul II in her homeland. During a papal visit to Montreal, Canada, in September 1984, Dion performed “Une Colombe” for the pontiff, as well as for a live audience of 60,000.
She Went To School To Learn English
After she established herself as a French singer, Dion and her team knew she would need to master English to truly cross over into major stardom. She was able to learn many English sounds simply by repeating lyrics. But ultimately, she attended the Berlitz School to learn English quickly.
Her First English Album Had Only One Hit
Dion’s first English album, “Unison,” debuted in 1990. The single, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” made it to number five on the Billboard charts and earned gold status. However, in Canada, the album earned her two Juno awards: Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.
She Made Her American TV Debut On ‘The Tonight Show’
Dion’s voice got the attention of one of the most influential TV personalities of all time: Johnny Carson. He invited her on to “The Tonight Show” in November 1990. After her performance, Carson predicted the world “would hear a lot from her.”
She Sang A Disney Duet For The Ages
In 1992, Dion released a duet with Peabo Bryson for the animated Disney feature film “Beauty and the Beast.” The title track hit ranked high on a variety of international music charts and changed the direction of her career for good. She was now a superstar.
Her First Grammy Award
“Beauty and the Beast” was a critical and commercial success. The American Film Institute ranked its title song among its greatest songs in film history (along with Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”). It also earned Dion her first Grammy award in 1993 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo.
She Performed For President Clinton
In early 1993, Celine Dion performed “Love Can Move Mountains” at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as part of President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. She joined a star-studded lineup that included Boys II Men, Barbra Streisand and Fleetwood Mac.
She Declared Her Love In Her Album’s Liner Notes
Hot on the heels of her recent success, Dion released her next album, “The Colour of My Love,” in 1993. Buried in the liner notes of the album, she publicly declared her love for her manager René Angélil, who was 26 years her senior. They had been dating for more than five years at that point. The couple was relieved when fans embraced the couple and offered support.
Dion’s Wedding Was A National TV Event
In a showcase that rivaled a royal wedding, Dion and Angélil got married on Dec. 17, 1994. The ceremony took place in Montreal’s iconic Notre Dame Basilica. The ceremony was broadcast on Canadian national television!
An Olympic Performance
When the Summer Olympics came to Atlanta, Georgia, the committee asked Dion to sing at the opening ceremonies. She gave a spectacular performance of “The Power of the Dream,” which was the official song of the Centennial Olympic Games.
The Year Of Celine: 1996
Celine Dion’s career hit new heights in 1996. Beyond the Olympics, her album “Falling into You” would bring both critical acclaim and fan fervor. The album reached number one in 11 countries and earned the singer two Grammy awards: Album of the Year and Best Pop Album.
She Collaborated Digitally With Stevie Wonder
On her 2013 album “Loved Me Back to Life,” Dion found a way to work with one of her music idols: Stevie Wonder. They did a virtual duet of his classic song “Overjoyed.” Dion told USA Today that she’s been a fan of his since she was young.
“I can still remember buying his album, that orange one (1976’s “Songs in the Key of Life”),” she said. “I kissed it so much. Then, when I was 10, I went to see him in concert. Just amazing.”
She Had Surgery To Help Conceive Her First Child
Coming from a big family, Dion was excited to have children of her own. However, she and her husband had to visit a fertility specialist, who performed surgery to help them conceive their first child. Dion’s son René-Charles was born in January 2001. The baby was christened in the same cathedral (Notre Dame in Montreal) where his parents were married.
Dion Is Also A Mom Of Twins
Dion wanted to have more children, but her infertility problems continued over the years. She endured six failed in-vitro fertilization attempts and one miscarriage before getting the good news that she was expecting twins! Her fraternal twin sons, Nelson and Eddy Angélil, were born in October 2010.
She’s Received Acclaim For Her Dynamic Duets
Celine Dion is known for her powerhouse solo vocals. However, the singer has also scored major success by pairing up with some of the best singers in the world. She’s recorded with Barbra Streisand (“Tell Him”), Andrea Bocelli (“The Prayer”), Luciano Pavarotti and even R&B artists R. Kelly and Ne-Yo.
A ‘Titanic’ Opportunity
Just as the Titanic was billed as the biggest ship in the world in 1912, the 1997 James Cameron movie about the ill-fated maiden voyage was the highest grossing movie of its time. Dion sang the theme song from the movie “My Heart Will Go On,” which went on to become one of the best-selling single of 1998, as well as one of the biggest songs of all time.
Taking Residence In Caesars Palace
After touring the world many times, Dion decided to take a break from touring to spend more time with her family. However, she continued to perform with a theatrical residency in Las Vegas at the Colosseum. Her first residency ran from 2003 to 2007, where she performed nightly and brought in nearly $400 million.
She Walked Away From Performing To Take Care Of Her Husband
Dion’s husband René was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998. Dion took a break from her music career to help care for him. After treatment, he recovered and was in good health until 2013. But in 2015, Dion announced that his cancer had returned.
Celine Dion Bravely Faced The Loss Of Her Husband
Sadly, René Angélil died on Jan. 14, 2016. Dion faced both the loss of her husband and the reality of becoming a single mother of three sons with grace and dignity, especially during her husband’s funeral. Once again, she returned to the Basilica of Notre Dame to say goodbye to her manager, best friend and husband.
Tragedy Strikes Dion Twice
As if losing her husband wasn’t enough, Dion was devastated when her brother Daniel (who also suffered from cancer) died just two days after the death of her husband. Dion’s brother died of cancer of the throat, tongue and brain.
She Is Active In Charity Work
Dion has been active in charity work since early in her career. She was in the room when her niece died from cystic fibrosis at the age of 16. Since then, her mission has been to help sick and underprivileged children. She launched the Celine Dion Foundation to help those in need, but she also works to assist others, such as the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.
Her Oldest Son Is A Budding Musician
17-year-old René-Charles appears to be following in his famous mother’s footsteps. The young man recorded two rap songs in a home studio, which he then released on Soundcloud under the name Big Tip. The songs went to number one and number two on the Canadian Soundcloud charts. Only then did he tell his mom!
Dion Is Being Treated For Hearing Issues
Earlier in 2018, Dion’s publicity team announced that she would postpone a number of her Las Vegas residency shows due to a condition known as Patulous Eustachian tube. According to her team’s official statement, the condition “causes hearing irregularities, and makes it extremely difficult to sing.” She had a minor surgical procedure to correct the problem and returned to her beloved stage at the end of May.