It was in 1981, when she was only 12 years old, that Celine Dion met René Angélil. She was only a slender teenager, the youngest of a family of 14, who entertained patrons at Vieux Baril, the paternal bar, by singing a wooden spoon in her hand. Realizing his talent, his older brother Michel decides to send a recording of his little sister to the producer. At 38, Angélil was then at the bottom of the wave. The last singer whose interests he managed has fled, and he is seriously considering a retraining. A hypothesis that vanishes when he hears Celine’s voice: after nine minutes of listening to “It Was Only a Dream”, he literally comes to a stop at this “gift from God.” “I was astonished, overwhelmed, I did not believe that she was twelve years old”, he will admit decades later on Europe 1. He understands then that he has in front of him an artist in the making out of the world. common, and decides to bet everything on her, going so far as to mortgage her house to produce her first album, La Voix du bon Dieu. The beginning of a fruitful collaboration, which will turn, years later, into passionate love.
When Celine Dion first walked into her pygmalion’s office, she was not a pretty wildflower. Crooked teeth, rustic style, Quebecois accent cut with a knife: the teenager did not really have the assets on which to build a career in show business. When they begin their collaboration, René Angélil takes matters into his own hands. Surgery, makeover, English lessons … The impresario completely shapes his image. His hold on the young singer is then total. Even more so as she secretly harbors growing feelings for her mentor. Aware of her trouble, her mother, Marie-Thérèse, takes a very dim view of this emerging love, and hopes that it will pass over time. It was without counting on the tenacity of the young woman …
To give his career an international dimension, René Angélil decided to enter Celine Dion in the Eurovision Song Contest. On April 30, 1988, in Dublin, the singer, who defends the colors of Switzerland, triumphs with “Do not leave without me”, in front of more than 600 million viewers. Back at the hotel, to the joy of her success, the one who is now a fulfilled 20-year-old woman runs to join her manager. Two years earlier, in a Parisian restaurant, she opened her heart to him, but René, still married to his second wife and already the father of three children, kindly turned her away. Sensing that he too had succumbed to the charm of his protege, he nevertheless decided to put some distance between them and settled in Las Vegas, far from any temptation against good morals. But that night in Dublin, he gave in.
Finally alone in this hotel room after months spent conscientiously avoiding herself, Céline confesses everything to René, shamelessly. Yes that’s right, she sleeps well with a photo of him tucked under her pillow since she was sixteen and continually dreams of him. And yes, she wants him to be the first. After unsuccessfully trying to push her away one last time, the impresario calls her from the hotel lobby and tells her what she has always dreamed of hearing: “If you really want to, I’ll be the one. first.” The answer is not long in coming: “You will be the first. And the only one …”.
The two lovebirds will not, however, formalize their relationship immediately, in accordance with René Angélil’s wishes (and to the chagrin of his dear and loving one). “She wanted to shout it everywhere. I told her to temper,” the impresario will admit. They will finally wait five years to do so, live, during a show by Sonia Benezra, on the occasion of the launch party of the singer’s latest album. A relief for Celine Dion, who bursts into tears.
Discreetly engaged since 1991, Celine Dion and René Angélil get married on December 17, 1994. The pomp of the ceremony has nothing to envy that of the weddings of the crowned heads. Broadcast on Canadian television, it brings together some 500 guests, and thousands of fans flock to Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal to admire the bride, whose outfit and accessories are an ode to superlatives. The singer’s dress, signed Mirella and Steve Gentile all in volume and lace, adorned with a 6-meter-long train, indeed required the trifle of a thousand hours of work. As for the tiara which retains its veil, it is composed of 2000 Swarovski crystals and weighs more than 3 kilos. “I wanted a fairy dress, a dream dress, the day of my wedding. I pay the price today because it is very heavy”, will slip the singer besides that day. Add to that half a million dollars of budget – including 100,000 for flowers -, and the 800 people mobilized for three months for the preparations, and you will understand why the bride split in the columns of the Gala of this award final about the festivities: “When I get married, I don’t get married small time.” Jean-Claude Van Damme could not have said better.
In the mid-1990s, Celine Dion’s career took a meteoric trajectory, on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1995, D’eux, resulting from his collaboration with Jean-Jacques Goldman, broke all sales records in France – he occupied the top of the hit parade for 44 weeks -, and became the best-selling French-speaking album in the world. The following two years, she released Falling into You, and especially Let’s Talk About Love – carried by the inevitable “My heart Will go on” – both of which sold more than thirty million copies. The consecration is total when the singer wins two Grammy Awards for this last opus. Opening ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics, Oscars ceremony, sold-out world tours: Celine Dion was then, at the end of the decade, at the height of her career. However, she will make a decision that takes all her fans by surprise …
In 1999, Celine Dion announced that she wanted to take a break from her career in order to start a family and take care of her husband. René Angélil is indeed suffering from throat cancer. After their treatment, the couple renews their wedding vows at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, January 5, 2000. But the best is yet to come: a year later, on January 25, 2001, the singer gives birth her first child, René-Charles, in Palm Beach, Florida. A victory for the Quebec star, who had thought for a time never to be able to have children, as she will reveal almost twenty years later in 50 minutes inside: “At some point in my life, I said to myself that I I was so lucky as a singer that maybe the price to pay was never having children. “
To lead a stable family life, the little family moved to Las Vegas, where the singer had a contract with Caesars Palace for three years. For this purpose, a new amphitheater, the Colosseum, was built from scratch. Céline Dion will finally offer two shows in residence: A New Day …, from March 25, 2003 to December 15, 2007, then Celine, from March 15, 2011 to June 8, 2019. The figures, given by the Billboard Boxscore, make you dizzy : 16 years of presence, 1,141 concerts, 4,555,752 tickets sold and $ 681.3 million in revenue (606 million euros). A record.
Meanwhile, in 2009, Celine Dion once again put her career on hold, with the firm intention of having a second child. After several unsuccessful attempts at in vitro fertilization, she finally announces that she is expecting twins. Nelson and Eddy – names chosen in homage to Nelson Mandela and his friend Eddy Marnay – were thus born on October 23, 2010. At the end of her pregnancy, the star will return to the ordeal that this new motherhood has created for her. eyes: “I feel like I’ve been pregnant for over a year. I never gave up, but I assure you it was physically and emotionally draining.”
At the end of 2013, the throat cancer which had reached René Angélil fourteen years earlier woke up, and forced him to undergo major surgery. Celine Dion then decides to put her career on hold again to support her in her convalescence. In August 2015, before her big comeback on stage, the singer gave several interviews in which she admitted without false modesty that she no longer had a future with her husband: “René said to me:” I want to die in your arms. “And I, him, Say, “Ok, I’ll be fine, I’ll be there. You will die in my arms. “” During her first concert at Caesars Palace, which her husband attends, she will say: “My love, we love you. A lot of strength, tonight. Promise me something: enjoy, it ‘ is all.”
On January 14, 2016, René Angélil died in Las Vegas at the age of 73. A week later, his funeral was held at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, the day after a public tribute that brought together thousands of people. A month later, Celine Dion will return to the stage for a concert in Las Vegas. She will then have these words: “It is quite astonishing to note that since he is no longer physically in my life, he is even more present.” The power of love…
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