Born on March 30, 1968, in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada, singer Celine Dion had recorded nine French albums and won numerous awards by the time she was 18. She recorded her first English language album, Unison, in 1990. Dion’s real breakthrough into pop music stardom came in 1992, when she recorded the theme to Disney’s hit animated feature Beauty and the Beast; the song became a No. 1 smash.
Celine Marie Claudette Dion was born on March 30, 1968, in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada. The youngest of 14 children of Adhemar and Therese Dion, she grew up in a close-knit musical family. Her parents formed a singing group, Dion’s Family, and they toured Canada when Celine was still an infant. They later opened a piano bar, where the 5-year-old Celine would perform to the delight of customers.
At the age of 12, Celine Dion recorded a demo tape of a song she had written with her mother. They sent the tape to the manager and producer Rene Angelil, who handled the career of popular French singer Ginette Reno. After hearing the tape and inviting Dion to perform for him in person, Angelil signed her immediately under the condition that he would have complete control over her career. He mortgaged his own home to finance her debut album, La Voix du bon Dieu (The Voice of God).
By the age of 18, Dion had recorded nine French albums and won numerous Felix and Juno awards (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy Award). In 1988, she won the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, Ireland, and her performance was broadcast live in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Japan. After this taste of international acclaim, she began looking to the south, and American stardom.
Dion recorded her first English language album, Unison, in 1990. Like most of her English language albums, it was a collaboration with the songwriter-arranger-musician David Foster. Driven by the Top 5 single “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” Unison sold more than 1 million copies worldwide.
Dion’s real breakthrough into pop music stardom came in 1992, when she recorded the theme to Disney’s hit animated feature Beauty and the Beast, a duet with Peabo Bryson. The song became a No. 1 smash, winning both a Grammy and an Academy Award. It was featured on her second English album, Celine Dion, which became her first gold record in the United States and sold more than 12 million copies internationally. The undeniable success of her self-titled effort, which also included her second No. 1 hit, “If You Asked Me To,” allowed Dion to launch her first headlining tour in the United States.
Making it in America
Celine Dion quickly capitalized on her newfound fame, releasing the top-selling The Colour of My Love in 1993. The album showcased the romantic power ballads that Dion had become known for, including “When I Fall in Love” (featured on the soundtrack for the hit film Sleepless in Seattle), “The Power of Love” and “Because You Loved Me” (from the soundtrack to Robert Redford’s sentimental 1996 film, Up Close and Personal).
In 1994, Dion happily merged her personal and professional life when she married Angelil, who is 26 years her senior. Angelil and his second wife had divorced in the 1980s, and, around this same time, he and Dion had begun a romantic relationship. Engaged in 1991, the couple tied the knot at Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica, in an elaborate ceremony that was celebrated throughout Canada.
Dion’s international stardom was solidified by her performance of “The Power of the Dream, ” at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. That same year, her album Falling Into You won Grammy Awards for album of the year and best pop album. The following year, however, would hold even greater glory for Dion, with the release of the blockbuster film Titanic (1997), co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, for which Dion sang the theme song, “My Heart Will Go On.” By the time the film raked in a record number of Oscar nominations (it won 11, including the award for best song), Dion’s ballad had become ubiquitous on radio stations around the world.
Included on both the Titanic soundtrack album and Dion’s own Let’s Talk About Love, “My Heart Will Go On” propelled to both the No. 1 and No. 2 slots on Billboard’s album charts, and sold a combined 50 million records worldwide. Let’s Talk About Love also featured collaborations with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Luciano Pavarotti, the Bee Gees and Bryan Adams.
Dion received the National Order of Quebec, her province’s highest honor, in April 1998. Later that year, she appeared alongside Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain on the high-profile televised concert Divas Live (1998) on VH-1.
While touring relentlessly and recording several albums (including S’il Suffisait d’Aimer and a holiday album, These Are Special Times), Dion was well rewarded at the Billboard Music Awards in late 1998, where she won six awards, including in the artist of the year and album of the year categories, for Let’s Talk About Love. Her extensive 14-country tour, which had begun in the summer of 1998, culminated in a gala concert in Montreal on December 31, 1999, in honor of the new millennium.
In the first months of 2000, Dion announced that she was taking time off from her career in order to focus on her family. She and Angelil had been trying to have children for years, and eventually decided to use in vitro fertilization to conceive. In May 2000, Dion underwent two small operations at a fertility clinic in New York in order to improve her chances of becoming pregnant.
Her efforts were successful, and on January 25, 2001, Dion gave birth to a boy, Rene-Charles. She has revealed in interviews that she had stored another fertilized egg in the fertility clinic and planned someday to give her son a sibling. On October 23, 2010, at age 42, Dion gave birth to twin boys. Angelil, who was diagnosed with skin cancer in 1999, is now in remission.
After a two-year hiatus, Celine Dion returned in March 2002 with A New Day Has Come, which topped the charts in more than 17 countries.
A year later, she began a much-hyped 36-month engagement at Caesars Palace, the famous Las Vegas hotel and casino. Dion simultaneously released the album One Heart, which did not fare as strongly as its predecessor.
Dion returned to creating French-language albums with 2003’s 1 Fille & 4 Types. Partnering with photographer Anne Geddes, she had a hit with the children’s music album Miracle: A Celebration of New Life (2004). In 2007, Dion released two albums. Taking Chances nearly reached the top of the pop album charts, and D’Elles was another French-language recording.
While she no longer dominates the charts as she once did, Celine Dion remains a popular entertainer. Forbes magazine reported in June 2009 that the singer earned approximately $100 million in 2008, making her the second-highest earning musician on the magazine’s list, after Madonna.