Dion, Céline

Céline Dion, singer, actress (b near Montréal 30 Mar 1968). The youngest of 14 children in a musical family, Céline Dion was discovered singing in the family-owned restaurant at age 12 by Montréal impresario René Angélil. Dion released her first hit single at 13, won a gold medal for best song at the Tokyo Song Festival in 1982 and was French Canada's most popular female chanteuse within 5 years.

Beginning Berlitz courses in English, Dion recorded her first English-language album, Unison, in 1990; it included "Where Does My Heart Beat Now," the first of a long string of international hits. A series of film soundtrack recordings (An American Tail, Beauty and the Beast and Sleepless in Seattle) were all successful and generated her first Grammy Award in 1993. The Colour of My Love (1993) became the most successful album to that time released by a Canadian female pop singer, selling 11 million copies worldwide. She married Angélil in 1994 in a lavish ceremony at Montréal's Notre Dame Basilica.

Céline Dion became a phenomenon in Great Britain during 1995 when The Colour of My Love and "Think Twice" topped the UK album and singles charts simultaneously for more than a month - the first time that feat had been achieved since the Beatles in 1964. She also solidified her superstar status in the francophone world with the bestseller D'eux and received the prestigious Médaille des Arts et Lettres from the French government. Dion's fourth English-language album, Falling Into You, won the 1997 Grammy Award as Album of the Year and included the international hit single "Because You Loved Me," which topped the US charts for 6 weeks. On 19 July 1996 she performed "The Power of the Dream" during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, to an estimated TV audience of 3.5 billion.

Dion's career has followed a dizzying upward curve ever since Falling Into You (1996) and Let's Talk About Love (1997) each sold in excess of 20 million albums worldwide; the latter was fuelled by "My Heart Will Go On," an epic romantic ballad that served as the love theme for the James Cameron film Titanic. Dion has also maintained a parallel career singing in French, recording albums such as Dion chante Plamondon and D'eux.

The greatest hits album, All the Way...A Decade of Song, was released in 1999. In addition to 9 familiar hits, it featured 7 new songs, including the single "That's the Way It Is" and a David Foster-produced version of the Frank Sinatra classic "All the Way." In late 1999 Dion announced a temporary retirement in order to start a family.

Dion re-emerged in 2002 with the album A New Day Has Come, which entered the album charts at number 1 in 17 countries. In 2003 she began a 5-night-per-week Las Vegas residency in the purpose-built Colosseum theatre at Caesars Palace. Titled A New Day..., the show was directed by Cirque du Soleil's Franco Dragone and became an immediate success, routinely selling out the 4000-seat venue. Originally scheduled to run for 3 years, A New Day... was extended through December 2007.

Coinciding with the start of her Vegas marathon, Céline Dion released the studio album One Heart. It was followed that October by 1 fille & 4 types, which, like her earlier francophone albums, was produced by Jean-Jacques Goldman. Two albums emerged in 2004: the concert recording A New Day...Live In Las Vegas and the album/book project Miracle, which was dedicated to the relationship of mother and child and featured covers of John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," among others. Dion participated fully in American writer Jenna Glatzer's biography Celine Dion: For Keeps. It was released in 2005, coinciding with the release of On ne change pas, a francophone greatest-hits collection. By early 2006, her career album sales worldwide had exceeded 175 million units.

By the time her Caesars Palace engagement ended in December 2007, Dion had again re-established herself as a recording artist in both official languages. The francophone D'elles was released in May 2007, debuting at number one in Canada and topping charts in France and Belgium in short order. She followed it with the anglophone Taking Chances in November of 2007; marginally more rock-oriented than her usual mainstream pop sound, the disc featured songs by Dave Stewart (ex-Eurythmics), Linda Perry and ex-Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody, among others. Like D'elles, it topped the Canadian charts in its first week and by year-end had shipped a reported 3.1 million copies worldwide. Dion began her 12-month, 101-date "Taking Chances World Tour" in Johannesburg, South Africa, in early 2008.

In 2008, Celine Dion was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.