Global superstar Céline Dion has had an incredible musical career spanning more than 40 years – amassing an array of awards along the way, while also meeting the love of her life René Angélil, who began as her manager before becoming her husband.
The phenomenal international success that Dion has achieved once seemed like an impossible dream for a two-year-old girl living in a tiny Canadian town on the outskirts of Montréal… yet her sheer grit and determination saw her defeat the odds to achieve what many never will.
The singer must rely on this same determination and grit when she faces the most difficult battle of her life: an incurable neurological disorder that could result in her losing her musical gifts.
Dion has previously spoken to People 2020 was all about music as a healing force. Courage is her story of how writing Courage helped her find strength even in the face a terrible tragedy, including the deaths of her husband and brother.
‘It’s no secret that I’ve gone through some tough times, obviously losing my husband and my brother a few years ago, and my mother very recently,’ she said.
Céline Dion revealed she had been diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome – a rare and incurable neurological disease – on Thursday
“Life presents us with challenges, and we attempt to find ways to overcome them. Music can be a healing force, and the songs on my new album have helped me find new strength in my life… and perhaps a bit more independence, because I’m the head of the household now.’
The singer and songwriter revealed that she has Stiff Person Syndrome (a rare and incurable neurological disorder).
And in the wake of the devastating news, FEMAIL has taken a look back at Dion’s stellar musical career – which includes five Grammys, a Billboard Icon Award, four number-one hits and 10 top 10 hits.
How did the Canadian singer become a beloved singer and diva after she was the youngest of 14 children in a modest family?
Céline Dion the child star: Singing from the age of two to first meeting future manager and husband at 12
Born on March 30, 1968, in the small town of Charlemagne, in the Canadian province of Québec, Dion started singing from a young age of two as music was very central to her family life.
‘She was born in a house where everybody was singing or playing music,’ Dion’s biographer George-Hebert Germain told CNN.
‘Guitar, piano, drums, everything. And she was raised in this family where the music was so important.’
Céline Dion was the youngest of 14 children in a humble family and started singing from the age of 2
Her mother and brother helped her pen her first song, Ce n’était qu’un rêve, at 12. The demo tape was sent to René Angélil, 38, who immediately became her biggest fan
Dion is shown here as a young child. Angélil would later mortgage his house to pay for her first album
Her first break into the music business came at the age 12.
With the help of her mother, Thérèse, and brother Jacques, Dion wrote the French-language song, Ce n’était qu’un rêve, which translates to It Was Only A Dream.
Thérèse sent Dion’s demo tape to budding producer René Angélil, then 38, who had been a manager to Ginette Reno, a Québécois singer that her family was huge fans of.
His interest was piqued by her demo and he invited her to his office where he asked her to sing into a pencil like ‘you were in front of a sold-out audience’, according to Dion’s biography on her website.
A December 1997 family photo by Dion From left to right, 1st row: Jacques, Louise, Thérèse, Adhémar, Liette and Paul. From left to right, 2nd row: Manon, Denise, Pauline, Ghislaine, Clément, Céline, Claudette, Michel, Daniel and Linda
Dion is Paris at the age 14 in 1982. She At the Yahama, won the gold medal World Popular Song Contest in Tokyo, singing Tellement j’ai d’amour pour toi
She was 14 years old when she was broadcast to 115 million television viewers. This win made her a household name in Canada. Photo taken again in 1982
She In eighth grade, she dropped out of school to pursue her singing career. After many TV appearances, she was a star in Canada and France by 1985
According to CNN, he said that ‘it really shook him up.’ “You hear a voice like this every 10, 20 years.”
From then on, Angélil was Dion’s manager and her ‘biggest fan’. He would become her husband many years later.
He He would mortgage his house in order to purchase her first album, French-language La Voix du Bon Dieu, which was released in 1981.
She won the Yahama gold medal the next year World Popular Song Contest in Tokyo, singing Tellement j’ai d’amour pour toi. At 14 she was beamed to over 115 million TV viewers. The win helped her become a household name here in Canada.
She She also dropped out in eighth grade to pursue her career singing.
After numerous TV appearances, she was a well-known star in Canada and France by 1985.
An undated photo of Dion with her father, Adhemar, who died of cancer in 2003
Dion is seen in a white suit and a disco ball above her in New York City circa 1993.
Global domination: New look and Eurovision. Breaking into the US market
CNN reported in 2002 that Dion disappeared for 18 months starting in 1985. During this time, she underwent major transformations.
‘Dion’s teeth were capped, her hairstyle changed, a new wardrobe was procured and she even took English classes,’ the story reads.
She had previously released several French albums, and her goal was to reach a wider audience in English.
Dion vanished for 18 months starting in 1985, when she underwent a major transformation. She Is pictured here in 1984
She showed off her new look and musical sound in 1987’s Incognito at the age of 19.
It sold over 500,000 copies. It was also the first album she produced in collaboration her new record label CBS (later Sony Music), that included Michael Jackson.
But her real global journey began when she won the 1988 Eurovision contest, representing Switzerland (one of the songwriters of the chosen song Ne partez pas sans moi, or Don’t Leave Without Me in English, was Swiss), which was held in Dublin, Ireland, that year. 600 million viewers saw the contest on TV.
After competing in the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest (Eurovision Song Contest), Dion was celebrated by households all over the globe.
She won the 1988 contest with a song called Don’t Leave Without Me in English, one of its composers was Swiss
Two years later, Unison, her first English-language album, made waves in the US. The single “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” from this album reached number five on the charts, and was certified gold in the US.
She Jay Leno invited her to appear on The Tonight Show, where she was honored with Junos for Album and Female Vocalist.
Dion chante Plamondon was her second album. It was certified gold the day it was released in 1991.
1988: Dion in the recording studio She Two years later, Unison, her first English-language album, made waves in the US.
Dion (centre), attends a ceremony to honor her with a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, January 6, 2004, in Hollywood. She is with honorary mayor Johnny Grant, Angelil, comedian Jay Leno and Hollywood Chamber president LeRon Gubler
Her Peabo Bryson and Dion performed a duet for Beauty And The Beast. It reached number 1 worldwide and earned her a Grammy. Dion is pictured here with Angelil in 1990
The success continued the following year when her duet for Beauty And The Beast with Peabo Bryson reached number 1 worldwide. This earned her a Grammy.
Peabo and she took to the stage together on her 24th birthday during the 1992 Oscars broadcast.
The next day, she released her second English language album, Celine Dion, on The Tonight Show. Prince composed the ballad With This Tear.
The Color Of My Love: An album about René Angélil
In 1993, Dion dropped her third English-language album and in the liner notes she revealed to fans she and Angélil were in love.
CNN reports that Dion said that he had written a note in the background of his album.
“Rene, my love, I can no longer keep this secret in me,” he said. It’s becoming too powerful. Let me tell you what I feel. Rene, you’re the color of my affection.
In the liner notes to The Color Of Love, Dion revealed to her fans that she was in love with her long-time manager.
The couple married in a church ceremony in Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica in 1994
The Power Of Love’s single was the number one hit on the Billboard charts. It remained at number one for four weeks. The single Think Twice, as well as the album, was number one in England for five consecutive weeks, matching the Beatles’ record.
From the same album, When I Fall In Love was chosen as the theme of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film, Sleepless In Seattle.
The Color Of My Love was a certified diamond in Canada. It sold more than 1,000,000 copies.
The next year, Dion and Angélil married in a church ceremony in Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica.
Dion and her husband, pictured in 1995. “Rene is the love of my life, I can’t keep it inside of me anymore,” she wrote. It’s getting too strong,’ she wrote in a note to her fans.
The Color Of My Love was a certified diamond in Canada. It sold more than 1,000,000 copies.
In 1995, she released another album, D’eux, which became the best-selling French album in history, with 10 million copies sold globally.
That same year she won Song of the Year for Pour que tu m’aimes encore and Female Vocalist of the Year.
She This album was followed in 1996 by Falling Into You. It was the best-selling album in 1996, reaching number one in 11 countries and having sold more than 30,000,000 copies.
It was nominated for Album of the year and Grammys.
Dion dealt a devastating blow to Titanic and the Olympics success
Dion reached another milestone when she sang The Power Of The Dream during the Opening Ceremony at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. This event was viewed by 3.5 billion people.
Her triumph continued the next year when she launched her 18th album, Let’s Talk About Love. Luciano Pavarotti was also a collaborator on this album.
When Dion performed at Atlanta’s Opening Ceremony in 1996, Dion was viewed by 3.5 billion people around the globe on television.
Her Her fame was further boosted by her megahit My Heart Will Go On. The Oscars awarded the song Best Original Song
She During the music video of My Heart Will Go On the singer appears at the top of the ship. This is a mirror of the famous scene from Titanic with Rose & Jack.
Dion and Angelil pictured at the 1999 Grammy Awards after she won Record of the Year and for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for My Heart Will Go On
But one song on this album would catapult her into another stratosphere: My Heart Will Go On, the theme song from James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Titanic. It was nominated for Best Original Song at Oscars and won two Grammys.
Let’s Talk About Love sold 30 million copies, equaling the sales of Titanic’s original soundtrack.
Dion toured the world with Let’s Talk About Love, including two shows at Paris’s Stade de France was attended by 180,000 people. After being diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 by her husband, Dion was fighting this battle.
She took a well-deserved, two-year break from 1999 after she had given her last concert at the Centre Molson in Montréal on December 31, ringing in the new year with a recovering Angélil.
Here is Dion with Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio starred as Jack alongside Kate Winslet and Rose in Titanic in 1997.
James Horner (right), and Will Jennings, (left), hold up their Oscars among Celine Dion after they won for Best Original Song for Titanic’s 1998 production.
Dion poses with the Grammy Awards she won for Record Of The Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for My Heart Will Still Go On in 1999
The return of Céline after a two-year hiatus: Las Vegas residencies and the birth of her children
After the birth of her first child, René-Charles Angélil, in January 2001, Celine returned with a new album a year later: A New Day Has Come.
It has risen to number one among 17 countries, including the US and Canada, as well as France, Australia, UK, France, and France.
The couple welcomed Rene-Charles, their first child, in January 2001
A New Day, the opening night of her 2003 Las Vegas residency
The singer belts out a song on stage in Las Vegas, marking the beginning of a residency that would last almost five years.
She She celebrates her 1000th performance at the Colosseum in 2016.
Dion marks her Las Vegas residency’s end in 2019 with a first. She sees fireworks explode above her at the Colosseum.
The singer shines at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace 2015 during her residency
In 2003, she would embark on an ambitious project – a $100 million, five-night-a-week Las Vegas residency, which initially was only meant to last three years.
CELINE DION’S TRAGEDIES
1993 – Dion’s niece Karine, 16, dies in her arms after complications related to cystic fibrosis
2003 – Lost her father, Adhémar, who died of cancer at the age 80
2010 Oprah interviewed her about her fertility problems and revealed that she had miscarried.
2016 – Her Rene Angelil, a long-time manager and husband, has died from throat cancer at the age of 73 in January
She loses her 59-year-old brother, Daniel, days later from complications of brain, throat, and tongue cancer
Her brother-in-law, Guy Poirier, passes away in August
Franco Dragone (the renowned creator of 10 Cirque du Soleil shows) directs this spectacle, which includes dancers as well as special effects. The show, A New Day…, is a revolution. It forever changed the face of the entertainment capital,’ Dion’s website said.
‘The premiere was held on March 25, 2003, the farewell almost five years later, on December 15, 2007. Over 700 sold-out performances for three million spectators!’
During this residency at Caesars Palace’s 4000-seat theater, she also released more albums: One Heart, Une fille & four types, A New Day… Live in Las Vegas, Miracle, D’elles, On ne change pas and Taking Chances.
Celine Dion Live At Las Vegas is her only DVD with triple-certified music.
After she left Vegas, it was not long before she began her global tour, opening in February 14, 2008 in South Africa – travelling to five continents, 23 countries, 93 cities and was seen by three million people.
Two years later she gave birth to twins, Nelson & Eddy, who were born on October 23, 2010 in Las Vegas. They were baptized on March 10, 2011 just 10 days before her record-breaking return to Las Vegas’s Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
She In quick succession, Sans attendre and Loved Me Back to Life were released. The latter reached number one on the iTunes charts in 44 countries, and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Top 200.
Dion presents the eagerly awaited return to her headline residency show at The Colosseum, Caesars Palace in 2015.
A photo Dion took on Instagram with her children Rene-Charles and Eddy, as well as Nelson. This was in 2020
Rene-Charles and his parents at New York’s Madison Square Garden 2009
But the high wouldn’t last long, in 2013, she found out her husband had been diagnosed with another bout of throat cancer.
She During his illness, she delayed her commitments to her husband’s care. Months into caring for him, Angélil asked her to take the stage once more, “he wanted to hear her sing again”.
Sadly on January 14, 2016, Angélil died. Two days later, Dion’s brother Daniel passed away.
Dion with one of her twins, as she arrives at Caesars Palace 2011 to begin residency rehearsals
Dion mourns with her three children – Rene-Charles, Eddy and Nelson – at the state funeral for Angelil who died in January 2016
Dion is then sadly separated from Daniel (pictured in an undated picture).
The Dion and Angelil families look up at Rene at his Las Vegas memorial in 2016
Life after Angélil: The Show Must Go On
Dion returned to Colosseum in February, weeks after the deaths her brother and husband.
In May that same year she sang The Show Must Go On at the Billboard Music Awards where she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Icon Award by her son, René-Charles.
As a tribute to Angélil, Dion dedicated Encore un soir off her 2016 French album of the same name to him. The song reached number 1 on every French-speaking chart.
She was presented the Lifetime Achievement Icon Award by her son, René-Charles, at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards
Dion at the final show of her Las Vegas residency, The Colosseum At Caesars Palace, June 8, 2019,
After Encore un soir, released by Sony Music, reached the top of the charts in France and Canada.
It was certified diamond in France, double platinum in Canada and platinum in Switzerland and Belgium. It was also her first album from France to reach the Billboard charts in America.
She sold out 28 shows in Europe and Quebec this summer.
She continued her Las Vegas residency in 2017.
In 2008, Dion was awarded the Legion d’Honneur of Paris. She’s pictured with Angelil, mother Therese and then-president Nicolas Sarkozy
In 2007, Dion walked the red carpet at the 79th Annual Academy Awards with her mother
She Returned to Beauty and the Beast, singing How Does a Moment Forever for the live action remake starring Emma Watson.
In the same year she celebrated Titanic’s 20th anniversary by singing My Heart Will Go On at the Billboard Music Awards.
Dion took a second break from her residency in order to go on a summer tour. She performed in Europe and the UK to sold out crowds at 25 shows in fifteen cities before returning home to Vegas until the end.
‘She broke records across the UK as the highest grossing artist at each UK venue and garnered critical acclaim,’ her website says.
She released Ashes for Deadpool 2, the music video featuring the titular character, in 2018. She also toured the Asia-Pacific and Australia, as well as New Zealand.
She announced that her Las Vegas residency would be ending on June 8, 2019, when she returned in 2018.
At her last Vegas show Dion debuted Flying on My Own, a new track from Courage.
Three months later she was on tour again and in November she released Courage, her first English-language album in six years.
STIFF-PERSONSYNDROME: A NEUROLOGICAL CONDITION INCURABLE THAT LOCKS THE BODY
Stiff person syndrome, a rare disorder, causes the muscles of the torso and limbs to alternate between being rigid and spasming.
It affects about one to two percent of a million people, according to estimates. Every year, approximately 330 people are diagnosed in the US. It affects around twice as many women than men.
Progressive disease is when patients’ stiffness increases over time, and can cause them to need a wheelchair.
There are usually three types:
- Classical man syndrome: When rigidity is present around the back, stomach, and sometimes the thighs and neck. It can lead to back curvature.
- Stiff limb syndrome: This is a condition that causes stiffness in the limbs. It can cause pain in the legs and feet and sometimes even cause them to become fixed. Also, it can affect the hands.
- Jerking stiff-person syndrome: This rarest and most aggressive form of the disease includes symptoms from both the other forms and also affects the eyes and head.
Experts don’t know the exact cause of the disease. Experts believe the disease may be caused by an immune reaction. This is when the body attacks its own nerve cells which control muscle movement.
About 40% of those suffering from type 1 diabetes also have type 1, another autoimmune disease. Classic person syndrome is a common cause of type 1 diabetes.
It is also more common among people with breast, lung and thyroid cancers. Researchers are still trying to understand why.
In stiff person syndrome, the immune system attacks a protein that helps make gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which regulate motor neurons — the nerves that control movement.
Low levels of GABA can cause neurons to fire continuously when they aren’t supposed to, leading to rigidity and spasms.
What are its symptoms and treatment?
The main symptoms caused by stiff person syndrome are spasms and rigidity of the torso and limbs.
Spasms can also be triggered by loud sounds, which can cause heightened sensitivity to sound.
As a result, touch and emotional distress can be felt more intensely.
Spasms can cause severe spasms that can lead to falls or other disabilities.
People with this condition are more likely to experience anxiety and stress, especially because of the unpredictable nature of spasms.
The lack of GABA — which regulates anxiety — in their system also affects mental health.
Celine, pop culture icon
In the years following her husband’s death, Celine has further solidified her status as a pop culture icon.
Fans were delighted when Dion appeared in a viral 2017 Vogue Video entitled: Celine Dion Takes Paris with the Best Couture Looks for the Season.
She Millions of people loved her unique couture looks, which she wore while dancing and strutting through Paris’ streets and hotels.
As the years go by, Dion has consolidated her status as a pop culture icon. Here she is in a stunning fringed bodysuit at the 2019 Met Gala
2017 saw her again stun with an Atelier Versace gown by Donatella versace.
But it’s her 2019 Met Gala turn, the theme being Camp: Notes on Fashion, that lives rent-free in our minds.
She A sparkling fringed bodysuit by Oscar de la Renta was worn with a feathered 22-pound headpiece.
SheWith his exceptional sartorial choices, Dion has impressed over the years. Dion is pictured in 2020
Dion makes a bold statement with a large hot pink floral skirt, and a knitted white rollneck sweater
Celine first revealed her health woes in January, when she cancelled North American dates of her Courage tour. The tour runs from March 9 to April 22.
Thursday’s announcement came three months after she had to cancel the start of her Las Vegas comeback residency over the same health issue.
Celine caused concern among her followers in 2019 when she was accused of being ‘too skinny’.
Entertainment Tonight was told by the Canadian singer that she’s been thin since childhood. She added: “Is there anything wrong with my body?”
She continued: ‘When you go back, when I was 12 years old, my face was rounder because you have more fat and you’re younger… But I’ve always been very thin.’