Dion, Celine

Dion, Celine
▪ 1995

      By 1994 Canadian singer Céline Dion had reached her goal of becoming an international pop music star. Her first success outside her native Quebec was at the Tokyo Song Festival in 1982. There she won the Musician's Prize and the gold medal for best song with "Tellement j'ai d'amour pour toi." Dion's fame soon extended to audiences in Europe and the U.S., and in 1983 she was the first Canadian to earn a gold record in France with her song "D'amour ou d'amitié." Two years later Dion had a six-week run at the Olympia in Paris. Her recording of "Ne partez pas sans moi" won the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest. Audiences in the U.S. heard Dion sing the closing song in Steven Spielberg's animated film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), and in 1993 her recording with Peabo Bryson of the title song for the animated Disney film Beauty and the Beast won a Grammy award for best pop duo. Earlier that year, Dion performed in the U.S. at Pres. Bill Clinton's inauguration gala.

      Born on March 30, 1968, in Charlemagne, Que., Dion grew up in a musical family. As a child she performed in her parents' restaurant. Dion's mother wrote "Ce n'était qu'un rêve" and sent her daughter's recording of the song to impresario René Angélil. He launched Dion's career when she was 13 years old. Her extraordinary voice and simplicity delighted Canadians. In 1983 she won Quebec's Felix Awards for best female performer and discovery of the year. She was featured in an episode of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's French-language program Les Beaux Dimanches. The clergy chose Dion to represent young people for Pope John Paul II's 1984 visit to Quebec, and she sang "Une colombe" for him at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

      By age 18, Dion had become determined to shed her "good girl" image. She took a one-year career break and reemerged with a new look and new music. Sporting short hair and sequined dresses, she sang songs with upbeat rhythms, and she began to record in English. Her first English-language recording, "Where Does My Heart Beat Now?" (1990), was released in 16 countries. In 1993 Dion performed in her first English-language television special, The Colour of My Love. In a much-publicized ceremony, she married longtime manager Angélil in December 1994.

      Dion, who was once called la p'tite Québécoise, had won 15 Felix Awards by 1991, the year she won the Juno Award for best female performer. At the World Music Awards in 1992, she won the award for best-selling Canadian female recording artist. Although she recorded in English, she considered herself to be a francophone, and in 1990 she refused to accept the Felix Award for anglophone artist of the year. Other French albums included Dion chante Plamondon (1991) and Des mots qui sonnent (1994). (DIANE LOIS WAY)

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▪ Canadian singer
born March 30, 1968, Charlemagne, Que., Can.

      Canadian singer who achieved international superstardom and was considered one of the top pop vocalists of the 1990s. Working in the pop ballad tradition, she recorded numerous albums in both French and English and was the recipient of several prestigious awards.

      Dion, the youngest of 14 children, began singing with her family when she was 5. At age 12 she came to the attention of impresario René Angélil—whom she married in 1994—and her career was launched. She won top awards at the Yamaha World Song Festival in Tokyo in 1982 and best female performer and discovery of the year at Quebec's Felix Awards in 1983; also in 1983 she became the first Canadian recipient of a gold record in France. In 1988 she won the Eurovision Song Contest with her recording of “Ne partez pas sans moi.” Two years later, “Where Does My Heart Beat Now?,” her first recording in English, was released in 16 countries, and the following year she sang the closing song in the animated film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Dion attracted more international attention in 1993 with her duet with Peabo Bryson on the title song of the Disney animated feature Beauty and the Beast—it won both a Grammy and an Oscar. But perhaps her greatest renown came from her recording of “My Heart Will Go On,” in the 1997 motion picture Titanic. In 1998 Dion received Canada's highest honour: appointment as an officer of the Order of Canada.

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Universalium. 2010.

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