Céline Marie Claudette Dion ( /seɪlɪn dɪɒn/ (help·info)) CC OQ (born March 30, 1968) is a Canadian singer, occasional songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur. Born to a large, impoverished family in Charlemagne, Quebec, Dion emerged as a teen star in the French-speaking world after her manager and future husband René Angélil mortgaged his home to finance her first record.In 1990, she released the anglophone album Unison, establishing herself as a viable pop artist in North America and other English-speaking areas of the world.
Dion had first gained international recognition in the 1980s by winning both the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. Following a series of French albums in the early 1980s, she signed on to Sony Records in 1986. During the 1990s, with the help of Angélil, she achieved worldwide success with several English and French albums, becoming one of the most successful artists in pop music history. However, in 1999 at the height of her success, Dion announced a temporary retirement from entertainment in order to start a family and spend time with her husband, who had been diagnosed with cancer. She returned to the top of pop music in 2002 and signed a three-year (later extended to almost five years) contract to perform nightly in a five-star theatrical show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.
Dion's music has been influenced by genres ranging from rock and R&B to gospel and classical. While her releases have often received mixed critical reception, she is renowned for her technically skilled and powerful vocals. Dion is the best selling Canadian artist of all time;and her album, D'eux is the best selling French-language album of all time. In 2004, after surpassing 175 million in album sales worldwide, she was presented with the Chopard Diamond Award at the World Music Awards for becoming the best selling female artist of all time. In April 2007 Sony BMG announced that Celine Dion had sold over 200 million albums worldwideThe youngest of fourteen children born to Adhémar Dion and Thérèse Tanguay, both of French Canadian descent, Céline Dion was raised a Roman Catholic in a poverty-stricken, but, by her own account, happy home in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada. Music had always been a part of the family (Dion was named after the song "Céline", recorded by French singer Hugues Aufray two years before her birth), as she grew up singing with her siblings in her parents' small piano bar called 'Le Vieux Baril.' From an early age Dion had dreamed of being a performer. In a 1994 interview with People magazine, she recalled, "I missed my family and my home, but I don't regret having lost my adolescence. I had one dream: I wanted to be a singer."
At age twelve, Dion collaborated with her mother and her brother Jacques to compose her first song, "Ce n'était qu'un rêve" ("It Was Only a Dream"). Her brother Michel Dondalinger Dion sent the recording to music manager René Angélil, whose name he discovered on the back of a Ginette Reno album. Angélil was moved to tears by Dion's voice, and decided to make her a star. He mortgaged his home to fund her first record, La voix du bon Dieu (a play on words "The Voice of God/The Way of God", 1981), which became a local number-one record and made Dion an instant star in Quebec. Her popularity spread to other parts of the world when she competed in the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, and won the musician's award for "Top Performer" as well as the gold medal for "Best Song" with "Tellement j'ai d'amour pour toi" ("I Have So Much Love for You").
By 1983, in addition to becoming the first Canadian artist to receive a gold record in France for the single "D'amour ou d'amitié" ("Of Love or of Friendship"), Dion had also won several Félix Awards, including "Best Female performer" and "Discovery of the Year". Further success in Europe, Asia, and Australia came when Dion represented Switzerland in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Ne partez pas sans moi" ("Don't Go Without Me") and won the contest by a close margin in Dublin, Ireland. However, American success was yet to come, partly because she was exclusively a Francophone artist. At eighteen, after seeing a Michael Jackson performance, Dion told Angélil that she wanted to be a star like Jackson.Though confident in her talent, Angélil realized that her image needed to be changed in order for her to be marketed worldwide. Dion receded from the spotlight for a number of months, during which she underwent dental surgery to improve her appearance, and was sent to the École Berlitz in 1989 to polish her English. This marked the start of her English-language music career.Two years after she had learned English, Dion made her debut into the Anglophone market with Unison (1990). She incorporated the help of many established musicians, including Vito Luprano and Canadian producer David Foster. The album was largely influenced by 1980s soft rock music that quickly found a niche within the adult contemporary radio format. Unison also hit the right notes with critics: Jim Faber of Entertainment Weekly wrote that Dion's vocals were "tastefully unadorned", and that she never attempted to "bring off styles that are beyond her". Stephen Erlewine of Allmusic declared it as, "a fine, sophisticated American debut."Singles from the album included "(If There Was) Any Other Way", "The Last to Know", "Unison", and "Where Does My Heart Beat Now", a mid-tempo soft-rock ballad which made prominent use of the electric guitar. The latter became her first single to reach the top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number four. The album established Dion as a rising singer in the United States, and across Continental Europe and Asia.
In 1991, Dion was also a soloist in "Voices That Care", a tribute to American troops fighting in Operation Desert Storm. Dion's real international breakthrough came when she duetted with Peabo Bryson on the title track to Disney's animated film Beauty and the Beast (1991). The song captured a musical style that Dion would utilize in the future: sweeping, classically influenced ballads with soft instrumentation. Both a critical and commercial hit, the song became her second U.S. top ten single, and won the Academy Award for Best Song, and the Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. "Beauty and the Beast" was featured on Dion's 1992 self-titled album, which, like her debut, had a strong rock influence combined with elements of soul and classical music. Owing to the success of the lead-off single and her collaboration with Foster and Diane Warren, the album was as well received as Unison. Other singles that achieved moderate success included "If You Asked Me To" (a cover of Patti LaBelle's song from the 1989 movie Licence to Kill) which peaked at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, the gospel-tinged "Love Can Move Mountains", and "Nothing Broken But My Heart".
As with Dion's earlier releases, the album had an overtone of love. Also during this time, Dion released the Francophone album Dion chante Plamondon (1991). The album consisted mostly of covers, but included 4 new songs, which included "Des mots qui sonnent," "Je danse dans ma tête," "Quelqu'un que j'aime, quelqu'un qui m'aime" and "L'amour existe encore". It was originally released in Canada and France during the 1991–1992 period, but then got an international release in 1994, the first French Celine Dion album to do so. "Un garçon pas comme les autres (Ziggy)" became a smash hit in France, reaching number 2 and being certified gold. In Quebec, the album was certified Gold the day it was released. To date, Dion chante Plamondon has sold 1.5 million records worldwide.
By 1992 Unison, Céline Dion, and media appearances had propelled Dion to superstardom in North America. She had achieved one of her main objectives: wedging her way into the Anglophone market and achieving fame.However, while she was experiencing rising success in the U.S., her French fans in Canada criticized her for neglecting them. She would later regain her fan base at the Félix Award show, where, after winning "English Artist of the Year", she openly refused to accept the award. She asserted that she was—and would always be—a French, not an English, artist.Apart from her commercial success, there were also changes in Dion's personal life, as Angélil, who was twenty-six years her senior, transitioned from manager to lover. However, the relationship was kept a secret as they both feared that the public would find their relations inappropriate.
1993–1995: Popularity established
In 1993, Dion announced her feelings for her manager by declaring him "the colour of [her] love" in the dedication section of her third Anglophone album The Colour of My Love. However, instead of criticizing their relationship as Dion had feared, fans embraced the couple. Eventually, Angélil and Dion married in an extravagant wedding ceremony in December 1994, which was broadcast live on Canadian television.
As it was dedicated to her manager, the album's motif focused on love and romance. It became her most successful record up to that point, selling more than six million copies in the U.S., two million in Canada, and peaking at number-one in many countries. The album also spawned Dion's first U.S., Canadian, and Australian number-one single "The Power of Love" (a remake of Jennifer Rush's 1985 hit), which would become her signature hit until she reached new career heights in the late 1990s. The single "When I Fall in Love", a duet with Clive Griffin, achieved moderate success on the U.S. and Canadian charts, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards, winning one.The Colour of My Love also became Dion's first major hit in Europe, and in particular the United Kingdom. Both the album and the single "Think Twice" simultaneously occupied the top of the British charts for five consecutive weeks. "Think Twice", which remained at number one for seven weeks, eventually became the fourth single by a female artist to sell in excess of one million copies in the UK, while the album was eventually certified five-times platinum for two-million copies sold.
Dion kept to her French roots and continued to release many Francophone recordings between each English record.Generally, they achieved more credibility than her Anglophone works. She released À l'Olympia, a live album that was recorded during one of Dion's concerts at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, in 1994. It had one promotional single, a live version of "Calling You", which peaked at seventy-five on the French Singles Chart. D'eux (also known as The French Album in the United States), was released in 1995, and it would go on to become the best-selling French album of all time.The album was mostly written and produced by Jean-Jacques Goldman, and amassed huge success with the singles "Pour que tu m'aimes encore" and "Je sais pas". "Pour que tu m'aimes encore" reached number 1 in France and stayed at the top position for twelve weeks. It was later certified Platinum in France.The single also reached the top ten in the UK and Ireland, a rare accomplishment for a French song. The second single off the album, "Je sais pas", reached number one on the French Singles Chart as well and was certified Silver in France. These songs would later become "If That's What It Takes" and "I Don't Know" on Dion's next English album, Falling into You.
During the mid-1990's, Dion's albums continued to be constructed on the basis of melodramatic ballads, but also with up-tempo pop and adult contemporary themed music. She collaborated with talented craftsman such as Jim Steinman and David Foster who helped her devise more adult contemporary songs. Critics like Charles Alexander of Time Magazine, enjoyed Dion's musical style, stating, "that voice glides effortlessly from deep whispers to dead-on high notes, a sweet siren that combines force with grace." Others, like Arion Berger of Entertainment Weekly, stated that Dion's songs lack emotion and "neither call for nor receive a personal touch."
Resultantly, she earned frequent comparisons to artists such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. According to some critics though, the songs in The Colour of My Love weren't as consistent with others from her eponymous album, but were nevertheless quite successful due to the songwriting and Dion's "powerhouse performances". Nonetheless, while critical reviews fluctuated, Dion's releases performed increasingly well on the international charts, and in 1996 she won the World Music Award for "World’s Best-selling Canadian Female Recording Artist of the Year" for the third time. By the mid-1990s, she had established herself as one of the best-selling artists in the world