Legions of fans in Canada and abroad recently shared a moment of sadness as Celine Dion announced her retirement. While understanding Dion’s need for rest – after a non-stop career that earned her international stardom and success – people can’t help but feel she is retiring prematurely. Rarely does a singer shy away from the limelight when she is at the height of her popularity and perhaps at the pinnacle of her creative talent. Yet Celine’s story has never been conventional, and it is this unconventional path that forged a star.
Celine Dion was born into a large French-Canadian family in 1968, the youngest of fourteen children. Sharing the musical ability evident throughout her family, Celine began singing at the young age of 5 and recorded her first demo by age 12. Little did Dion realize that the man who first heard this demo, Rene Angelil, would someday become her husband.
In 1982 Dion won her first international honor with the song “Tellement J’ai D’amour Pour Toi” and soon became a star in her native Quebec. Despite this local stardom, and eventual success in France and Switzerland, it would take years before the coveted U.S. market took notice of Dion.
Celine Dion finally inked a record contract with Sony in 1986 after expanding her musical ability by learning English. The release of the English Unison in 1990 would be the key to her American success. “(If There Was) Any Other Way” and “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” were two of the four Top 10 singles from the platinum selling album which earned Dion two Juno Awards and increased her visibility in the United States.
Dion certified her celebrity status with a strong vocal number from the Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast, which won her an Academy Award for “Song Of The Year”. The same song pushed sales from her second English language album, Celine Dion sky-high and garnered Dion a massive extension of her Juno collection.
After a successful American tour, her first, Dion returned to record the best selling album The Color Of My Love. Backed by powerhouse singles “The Power Of Love”, “Think Twice”, and another popular soundtrack effort in “When I Fall In Love” (from Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s Sleepless in Seattle) the release achieved platinum status in Canada and double-platinum in the U.S.
In 1994, clearly on top of the recording industry, Dion achieved two important milestones: the successful return to her French-Canadian roots with Dion Chante Plamondon, and the marriage to her long time manager, producer and greatest inspiration, Rene Angelil.
Celine’s celebrity status only continued through 1997, as did record sales and her personal wealth, with the massively popular Falling Into You and Let’s Talk About Love, which sold a combined 48 million copies and gave Dion another Grammy Award. Let’s Talk About Love not only earned Celine Dion accolades, but also presented the world a timeless classic in “My Heart Will Go On” from one of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, Titanic. The love theme from the tragic film touched hearts worldwide and converted many non-fans – only extending her already gigantic fan-base.
Dion’s latest release All The Way…A Decade of Song, meant as a final farewell, has done little to comfort the millions of appreciative fans across the globe and has only fueled their hunger for the tiny singer with the universal voice.