Celine Dion is an international treasure. The Canadian-born superstar, who’s been singing since she was a kid, has sold more than 53 million albums in the U.S. alone and is the bestselling French language artist of all time. In addition to achieving fame for her decades-long career as a pop music icon, the “My Heart Will Go On” songstress has become known for her striking sense of style. Here’s a look at Celine Dion young and old, from her early life and fashion milestones to her most recent accomplishments.
She Released Her Debut Album At Only 13 Years Old
Born in Charlemagne, Quebec, on March 30th, 1968, Celine Dion was the youngest of 14 siblings. She showed an interest in singing at an early age and recorded her first album, La voix du bon Dieu, when she was just 13 years old.
Her manager, René Angélil, reportedly mortgaged his house to pay for the album’s production. But his gamble paid off—by the time she turned 18, Dion had recorded seven French-language albums and was a local star in Quebec. She also underwent a major style transformation and unveiled a fresh, modern look for the release of her eighth album, Incognito, in 1987.
Movie Soundtracks Gained Dion International Recognition
Beauty And The Beast (1991) Captured An English Audience
Dion’s success didn’t spread outside of Canada until 1990, when she released her first English-language album, Unison. The album featured the song “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” which became her first top-ten hit on the U.S. Billboard charts. The following year, she achieved international acclaim when she sang on the title track for the animated movie Beauty and the Beast. A duet with Peabo Bryson, the song won an Academy Award for Best Song and gave Dion her first Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
Dion’s global success continued with the 1992 release of Celine Dion, which featured the “Beauty and the Beast” single alongside other hits like “You Asked Me To” and “Love Can Move Mountains.” That album was followed by The Colour of My Love in 1993, D’Eux in 1995 and Falling Into You in 1996. While all three records continued to raise Dion’s international profile, she didn’t become a record-breaking phenom until 1997, when she released “My Heart Will Go On.”
As the main theme from the hit film Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On” is what many people consider to be Celine Dion’s greatest musical accomplishment. The single, which appeared both on the Titanic soundtrack and on Dion’s 1997 album, Let’s Talk About Love, spent a whopping 16 weeks atop the Billboard 200 charts and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. It also earned the songstress four Grammy Awards, including statues for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
As a result of the single’s success, Let’s Talk About Love became Dion’s fastest-selling album and one of the bestselling records of all time, selling more than 31 million copies worldwide.
Her Relationship With Angélil Developed Into A Romance
Despite a 26-year age gap, Dion started dating her manager, René Angélil, in 1987 when she was just 19 years old. The pair went public with their relationship in 1993 when Dion dedicated The Colour of My Love to him and declared her feelings in the album’s liner notes. “When you’re in love, you want to scream it to the world,” she said.
The couple tied the knot a year later. Their wedding was broadcast on Canadian television and Dion stunned in an elaborate dress designed by Mirella and Steve Gentile. The gown, which was adorned with lace and crystals that reportedly took more than 1,000 hours to apply, featured a 19-foot-long train and a Swarosvki crystal headdress that weighed more than six pounds.
She Became A Mother In 2001
Dion gave birth to her first son, Rene-Charles, on January 25, 2001. Despite the fact that she was at the height of her career, the new mom decided to take a two-year break from work to care for her son and look after Angélil, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999.
Dion returned to the mic in 2002 with the release of her 18th studio album, A New Day Has Come. She took another show biz break a few years later to have twin sons, Eddy and Nelson, who were born October 23rd, 2010. “My greatest reward is my children,” Dion said in a 2013 interview with Women’s Weekly. “I don’t believe in the umbilical chord being cut. For me it’s never cut, once you’re a mum you’re a mum for life—it gives you true meaning to your life and it’s the most important job.”
Two Separate Las Vegas Residencies Gave Her Stability To Balance Career And Family
In an effort to juggle motherhood and superstardom, Dion nixed plans for a world tour to promote A New Day and opted instead for a residency in Las Vegas. The show opened in 2003 at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, which was constructed specifically for her. It ran for five years and grossed more than $385 million.
In 2011, Dion settled in for her second Las Vegas residency, Celine. Originally slated to last three years, the show ended up running until 2019, though Dion took a year-long hiatus to care for Angélil in when his cancer returned in 2014.
She Found Courage To Go On After Her Husband’s Death
After a long battle with throat cancer, Angélil succumbed to the illness on January 14th, 2016. It was a devastating blow for Dion, who had known Angélil since she was 12 years old. But after taking time to grieve her loss, Dion says she owed it to everyone to continue performing. “It takes courage because I’m a single mom and I don’t want my kids, my entourage, and the people that I love to feel that because I have lost the man of my life that I’m going to lose the essence of what I love, my passion,” she explained in an interview with CBC.
The “Tell Him” singer also credits fashion with helping her cope with her husband’s death. “It’s amazing how a little bit of fantasy can alter our moods,” she said in an interview with People. “I’ve always loved fashion, from as far back as I can remember. But as everyone knows, I’ve gone through some extremely difficult times in recent years, and I suppose that I’m spreading my wings a little bit more these days and doing so with the help of beautiful clothing and accessories.”
In 2019, Dion released her 27th studio album, Courage, which was inspired by her journey through grief and the lessons she learned about surviving loss. She went on tour that year to promote the record—her first world tour in more than a decade—but was forced to reschedule the remainder of the tour in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has since continued to postpone dates due to illness.
She’s A Fashion Icon As Well As A Singing Superstar
In addition to her exquisite voice, Dion has become known for her bold sense of style—which is something the singer says is part of her personality. “For me, fashion is art. It’s a way of expressing yourself,” she said in a 2019 interview with Elle. “When I put something on, I play. I don’t take myself seriously. I kind of, like, borrow a character.”
The “Loved Me Back to Life” singer even had a two-story closet, which she calls her “playground,” constructed in her newly-built Las Vegas home. She also continues to support self-expression through fashion, most notably with the 2018 release of a gender-neutral line of clothing for kids, Célinununu. “It’s about offering [a] choice and giving children a chance to feel free to find their own individuality, their own true essence without being tied to stereotypes,” Dion explained in an interview with the Independent. “I think that every child needs to have their own identity, to express themselves freely, and [to] not feel like they have to be like someone else.”