Endless praise has been given to Celine Dion for her gorgeous voice, from its melodic allure to its haunting emotion. But most fans don’t know the real story of how she rose to fame. After years of enduring negative comments about her, it’s time to reframe how we think of this icon.
Looking back on her career in a way we don’t normally read about, we’ll learn about her passions and the things she’s had to overcome, the rumors she’s been confronted with, and the love of her life. Keep reading to learn about Celine Dion’s captivating life story.
Celine Dion came into the world on March 30, 1968, in Charlemagne, Quebec, Canada. She was the youngest of 14 children, and when her mom discovered she was pregnant with Celine, it was a shock. Her parents struggled financially, which made it more difficult having to support 14 kids.
Despite the fact that they were a large family with little money, they embraced Celine—even if a cabinet drawer doubled as her bed. They had no way to guess what kind of star she would grow up to be…
It was always apparent that Dion would grow up to be someone notable. But it wasn’t only due to her incredible talent. Apparently, she had a special relative. Indeed, she was related to Zacharie Cloutier, an acclaimed French explorer who was the ancestor of several other famous people.
Cloutier was the genetic ancestor of well-known superstars like Beyonce, Madonna, and Shania Twain! But it wasn’t only the family ancestors who greatly inspired Dion. Someone quite close to her played a huge role in her success as well.
It turns out that Dion’s parents were also big music fans, and it’s because of their parenting beliefs that she was encouraged to grow creatively in the ways that she did. In fact, her first name was a musical tribute. Naming her Celine was in honor of the song “Céline” by Huges Aufray.
Her whole family was musically gifted—which is why they were all pretty emotional when they learned that Celine was the most talented family member! When she was five, she sang for them, and that made everyone sentimental. And that was only the beginning.
Dion overcame more than just poverty on her journey to success. Truth be told, she had to go through one of the toughest experiences anyone could ever go through. When she was a child, Dion went through a number of frightening near-death events.
The most extreme one happened when she was five when a truck knocked her to the ground hard and resulted in her being in a coma with several fractures in her skull. Luckily, she survived—but nobody expected her to shine brighter than ever in the next couple of years.
Living and growing up in Quebec, Dion found herself constantly in the presence of influential musicians. This is primarily because her family was the proud owners of an amazing piano bar named Le Vieux Baril.
You can only imagine how this would serve to be the perfect place for her to hone her talents from a young age. Indeed, Dion would practice and sing in the bar quite frequently—and she went on to become a favorite performer with the customers!
Dion continued to practice and perform at her family’s piano bar, and throughout this process, she accumulated hundreds of fans! In fact, her mom and brother were so enthralled with her singing voice that they worked together to write a song for her to perform.
Dion sang the song, and they turned a recording of it into an uncut demo. They ended up sending it to a group of producers with the hope that she’d get discovered. Luckily, one of them answered—and his name was René Angélil.
In the beginning, her mom mailed the demo tape out to the record labels with a letter attached to it that explained though her daughter was only 12 years old, she had the singing chops of a seasoned veteran singer.
Angélil was familiar with these kinds of requests and initially didn’t pay it much mind. But after Celine’s brother followed up with him, everything changed. Angélil reconsidered and listened to the record—and right away, he knew he had to have her come in for an audition.
Excited to get a callback from a well-established producer, Dion showed up for the audition, ready to perform. When she arrived, she received a pencil from Angélil. The producer instructed her to pretend it was a microphone and that she was singing for hundreds of thousands of eager fans.
No one fathomed how she would respond to such a weird request. But the moment she opened her mouth to start singing, Dion exceeded the expectations of everyone in the room with her audition.
It didn’t take long for Dion to notice how much she had emotionally affected the producer. Shortly after she finished her song, she realized that Angélil was actually crying in front of her! She had made a famous producer cry with her singing skills—and that’s when she knew she had a special voice.
Her journey was only just beginning, and she had lots to learn about the music industry. But she was ready to start. The road wouldn’t be easy as she was young and still needed to grow into herself—but she was in the right place.
Rene knew he had to sign this kid. Her voice was something he’d never heard before. And he was willing to do something drastic to get it done. In 1981, he mortgaged his own house to ensure he’d have the money to finance “La Voix Du Bon,” Dion’s first song.
He was pooling his resources on her—would it be worth it in the long run? Whether or not Dion felt under pressure is unknown. Shortly after its release, Rene’s risk paid off—Dion’s single went on to become the number one song in Canada!
It didn’t take long after her single debut triumph for Celine Dion to become a Canadian household name. That’s impressive for a child! But her fan base wasn’t just average citizens. Soon enough, Pope John II came to Quebec and wanted to hear Celine sing the French anthem for him.
Her performance took place at the Montreal Olympic Stadium, and over 65,000 people were in attendance while she serenaded the audience. Even today, Dion claims that it was one of the most unbelievable performances of her life.
It didn’t take long before Dion’s fame was about to spread all over the planet. And what better platform to begin than at the Eurovision contest? Soon, the whole planet would know her name. Celine Dion was the real deal – she wasn’t some one-hit-wonder.
In 1988, Celine Dion sang at Eurovision for millions of fans across the globe. Singing for Switzerland, she secured the win by one point over the United Kingdom. If she was well-known before, this was a joke compared to how famous she was now.
Now that Dion was also a well-known performer in Europe, CBS was ready to sign her to a recording contract. They were an international branch of the acclaimed record label Columbia Records—the same record label that worked with Michael Jackson.
Dion was already a huge Jackson fan, so she was naturally excited to join him as a Columbia-represented artist. When she was 18, she obsessed over his music and dreamed of achieving the same level of accomplishment that he did. Little did she know that it would eventually happen.
Regardless of how famous she was becoming, Celine Dion was still incredibly young and had a lot of growing up to do. At one point, being the center of attention was too much for her. Her manager Rene encouraged her to take a break for a bit, and she obliged.
She took her time away to learn how to speak English because she only knew how to speak French when she was young. Everyone thought it was a risky idea for her to take some time away—but she soon showed them why it was all worth it.
Unsurprisingly, taking a step back from stardom to learn English would help her in the long run. This is because most of the show business is run in countries that speak English. Eighteen months later, she returned to the limelight, only now she was a pretty decent English speaker!
It was at that time when she released “Incognito,” her first CBS album. The album went on to sell 500,000 copies—but this was only the beginning for Dion, especially now that she was able to speak English.
Now that Celine Dion spoke both English and French, she decided she might as well delve into other languages too! Truth be told, Dion is much more than just an amazingly talented musical artist—she is also a natural when it comes to picking up new languages.
Eventually, she mastered the art of singing in languages such as Latin, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, German, and Spanish! By doing so, she was able to connect to pretty much any culture with her music! But it was more than just that.
Even though Celine Dion was turning into a multilingual singer, that didn’t take away from the fact that English was the main language she needed to emphasize, if she truly wanted a globally successful career, she needed to release music in English—so she did.
In 1990, Dion released Unison, an album entirely in English. The album featured songs like “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” which went on to become a huge hit in the United States. She was ready for her American tour, but then something threw a wrench in her plans.
As she was preparing for her first tour across America, Dion lost her voice at the worst possible time. This was her moneymaker, without which she would obviously be unable to sing on records or in front of audiences. She couldn’t believe that she lost her voice right before a tour!
She wanted to perform across America, but her body told her she couldn’t. After seeking medical attention, she was advised to completely stop singing for four weeks, or she’d have to undergo surgery. She took the month off and allowed her voice to recover.
Dion might’ve been thrown a curveball with her lost voice but turned it into a big opportunity—she just needed to search in the right spots. Since she had to stop singing, Dion chose to focus on a few business ventures that were unrelated to her music career.
Ultimately, she opened up her own restaurant named Nickels, which developed into a big success that produced a handful of locations across Canada. She also created her own magazine that was called Celine Dion Magazine.
After weeks without singing, her vocal cords finally healed, and she was able to get back into performing. One of her largest songs around this time was “Beauty and the Beast,” the titular single from the 1991 Disney cartoon movie. This song made her a Grammy winner!
Despite the success, she started getting intense backlash from her fans back in Canada. A portion of her fans from home was upset that she was performing in English. But they came around and forgave her, especially after she rejected the “English Artist of the Year” award on live TV.
The strange thing is that despite the fact that Dion was a star across the globe, the executive team behind the “Beauty and the Beast” production didn’t think she was well-known enough in the American market to create enough excitement for the single.
That’s why singer Peabo Bryson sang it with her as a duet. Obviously, those same executives were the ones who felt the most foolish years later when they realized how famous Dion would go on to become.
When Dion first started working with producer Rene Angélil, their relationship was strictly professional, and she was not even a teenager yet. However, feelings between them started to shift when she got older—and things started to enter the romantic realm.
Dion explained to Access Hollywood that around 17, 18 years old was when she started seeing him in a different light, prompting romantic feelings to arise. By the time she had turned 19, the two were in an official relationship. But that doesn’t mean that it was public knowledge.
Even though Dion was legally of age to be in a relationship with a man 26 years older than her, she still had a feeling that other people wouldn’t approve of them being together. That’s why they both agreed to keep their relationship private.
In fact, the fact they were dating stayed out of the public eye for years, solely out of fear that the public would disapprove of it. But once the couple realized that their feelings were real and that their relationship was serious, they concluded that there was no point in hiding it anymore.
Celine had been secretly dating her own manager Rene for almost five years before choosing to reveal the news to the public. Rene, especially, was fearful about what the world would have to say if they found out about it—but Celine was able to convince him to tell people.
Despite her initial confidence, there was one person in particular that Celine was worried would find out about them dating. This was the sole person who she was fearful wouldn’t accept. But Celine knew that she had to come clean and just tell her.
The person Celine was most afraid to tell was her mom, who had major concerns about her daughter and Angélil being in a relationship. Celine felt in her heart that she and Angélil were fated to be together forever, but her mother didn’t appear to agree.
Once Celine’s mom found out, she was very vocal about how much she opposed the relationship. She literally tried everything she could think of in order to ensure that it didn’t happen! But her mother had a huge reason for opposing it, one that didn’t surprisingly have anything to do with the age difference.
The largest reason that Celine’s mother wasn’t excited about her relationship with Rene Angélil had to do with his past marriages. It turns out that Rene had been married multiple times, not just once, before entering a relationship with Celine.
The name of his first wife was Denyse Duquette, and they got married in 1966. Not only were they married, but they had a son together, named Patrick Angélil. To make the whole situation even more uncomfortable, Rene’s son is a few months older than Celine!
But no matter how strange it might’ve seemed to the public, and despite her mother’s protests, Celine agreed to marry Rene in 1994. The couple was so delighted to proclaim their love that they did it in a big way, having the ceremony at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.
Celine was insanely famous by that time and basically Canadian royalty—which meant that her wedding was getting national attention in Canada. Millions of fans got to watch their adored singer get married to her man on national television.
For a woman of Celine Dion’s standing, she was choosing a special wedding dress. She was going to get married looking fabulous thanks to the financial freedom at her fingertips. Celine hired designers Steven Gentile and Mirella to design the wedding dress of her dreams.
She wanted to be proud of her wedding photos for years. But this wasn’t just your typical wedding dress—this dress was so extravagant that it took a total of 1,000 hours to finish! To finish off her look, Celine wore a tiara with her veil that weighed 20 pounds.
Of all the couples on the planet, Dion and Angélil were probably the toughest to buy for. After getting married, most couples begin saving money to purchase their first house. Not these lovebirds. They had both collected a fortune and owned several properties before the wedding.
After their wedding, they bought an elaborate property in Florida to add to their collection of homes. It was later sold for about $72 million. But Dion was about to make headlines for another reason.
She was asked to sing the theme song for “Titanic,” a highly anticipated James Cameron movie. That’s when she recorded the record “My Heart Will Go On”—the song that went on to become one of the most successful she would ever record, at least among mainstream music listeners.
Funnily enough, Dion didn’t think the track was that incredible when she initially heard it. During an interview on “Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen,” she talked about how the “Titanic” theme was one particular song she didn’t want to sing, but she’s happy she was overruled.
We’re not sure why Celine Dion didn’t think “My Heart Will Go On” would work. But honestly, it’s not always simple to know what will succeed and what won’t. Luckily, one person was confident that it would do well: her manager and husband, Rene.
Celine said that she just wasn’t into the song that much, maybe due to lack of sleep. Her husband suggested that they not be so quick to say no and convinced her to record a demo version. The demo version became the version that turned the song into a colossal hit.
As most fans know, it wasn’t just the song that was big—it was the film as well. But was “My Heart Will Go On” a successful song because of the film, or was the movie a hit because of the song? No matter the reason, it catapulted Dion to be one of the most popular singers in the world.
Dion strategically chose to capitalize on her worldwide fame with the purposeful timing of the start of her “Let’s Talk About Love” tour. It seemed like she was untouchable—but she learned awful news that flipped her world upside down.
From a career standpoint, nothing could stop Celine Dion. But her personal life was a bit more vulnerable. In 1999, her husband and manager Rene was told that he had throat cancer. Not just a diagnosis, but news that his illness was growing rapidly.
As his illness progressed, Rene started having difficulties doing basic tasks. This was absolutely devastating for Celine, but she jumped into action. She took a step back from her music career and spent all her time by the side of her ailing husband.
The news that Rene had throat cancer was unimaginably difficult for Celine to deal with, and the media world certainly wasn’t helping her. You would hope that the media would be sensitive to Celine during such a tough time—but instead, a fictitious story was published about her.
Soon after news of Rene’s diagnosis became public, The National Enquirer released false claims that Celine was pregnant with twins. Celine sued the tabloid for $20 million—they ended up apologizing for running the story and even donated the money to the American Cancer Society.
Celine was going through a terrible ordeal, with her adored husband being seriously ill. In order to clear her mind of this hardship, she decided to destress by playing one of her favorite sports—golf. In fact, Celine Dion has been a big golf fan her entire life.
She was often seen at major golf events, and she went as far as to open her own golf course in the late ’90s. Things were still very difficult for the famous singer, but at least she had a reason to leave the house and have some time to destress.
But that wasn’t the sole outlet she used to clear her mind of the tragic events in her personal life. Eventually, she began making music again—and the latest song to come her way was “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” written by acclaimed songwriter Jim Steinman.
While the song was initially supposed to be sung by Meatloaf, eventually, they shifted and thought that Celine was a better fit. The song became one of her most popular songs—and as a result, Meatloaf even released a cover to pay tribute to her incredible performance!
Soon enough, all types of awards came pouring in for the singer. Celine Dion found herself in the “Golden Period” that some singers reach much later in their careers. In 1998, she was given the National Order of Quebec—which is pretty impressive when you consider that she came from poverty.
Dion also received an honorary doctorate from Laval University. This is thought to be an incredibly prestigious honor, and that’s why she chose to dedicate the award to her husband, Rene.
As to be expected with such a talented singer, those weren’t the only awards that Dion won. For example, she got a star on the Canada Walk of Fame in 1999! And that wasn’t her only star because, in 2004, she also received a place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
These honors made her the only celebrity to ever receive a star on both of Walk of Fames. Her stars on both Walk of Fames just serve as another example of the scope of her popularity—she’s one of the most beloved artists across the USA and Canada!
Celine Dion released countless best-selling albums throughout her career, but much of her success also came from the numerous covers she recorded. These included “I Drove All Night” by Cyndi Lauper, “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon, and “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen.
She also sang covers of songs by Barbra Streisand, Gwen Stefani, and Michael Jackson – one of her biggest musical influences. Though this area of show business was working out for her, there were other sides that weren’t as fun.
Being a celebrity isn’t as simple as people think, especially because the paparazzi are always watching you. When the media released the false story about Celine being pregnant with twins, she was so upset and took it so personally because it hit home.
For years, she had been trying to get pregnant and had been unsuccessful. It makes sense why the story upset her so much. In 2000, she got a surgical procedure to address the fertility issues that she was having. Luckily, it was successful, and she later welcomed her firstborn son, René-Charles Angélil.
Although proud to be Canadian, Celine Dion connected well with her millions of American fans. Her affection and warmth for America were further expressed when the heartbreaking attack of 9/11 happened. When it took place, Celine had no plans to back down.
Right after the 9/11 attacks, Dion was requested to come and deliver a performance of “God Bless America”—and she blew the performance out of the water. The world was captivated while Celine sang her heartfelt tribute to those who had lost their lives.
However, the tragedies weren’t about to end anytime soon for Celine. It wasn’t long after her moving performance that she dealt with one of the largest blows of her life—losing her father, Adhemar Dion. Not much was known about him since he preferred to stay out of the limelight.
But the reality is, he was one of her biggest fans and pushed her to follow her dreams from the very beginning. When he died in 2003, Celine gave a passionate performance that moved the audience. According to Celine, her father would’ve wanted her shows to continue.
Along with her own hardships, Celine was very concerned about the problems going on around the world—including Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA. Considering that Celine had the money to help make a real difference, she graciously donated $1 million to hurricane relief.
She also gave money after the tsunami that ripped through Southwestern Asia in 2004. She appeared on Larry King and, during the interview, became emotional when talking about it. She thought it was unacceptable that people were still waiting for rescue teams and that we needed to step it up.
Celine Dion had nothing more to prove in the music world by this point in her career. So now it was a chance to work on other things she wanted to accomplish—like acting. Musicians trying to break into the acting world isn’t uncommon, but not everyone successfully makes the transition.
Celine proved that she had the talent for it, guest-starring on “All My Children,” the famed soap opera. She appeared as herself and also sang in the process. Celine proved that she could spread her wings—and she was going to show that in another way.
If there’s one thing Celine Dion takes incredibly seriously beside her career, it’s being a mom. After enduring painful years of fertility issues, she went through IVF treatments, praying that it would work. In 2010, she discovered that she was pregnant with twins!
She ended up giving birth to two baby boys, sons who she named Nelson and Eddy. Now she was the mother to a handful of kids, which was something she had desired for years. Somehow, Dion continued to shock people in her professional career too.
Celine Dion has broken numerous records throughout her career and accumulated a number of awards as well. But it was in 2011 that she took her record-breaking abilities to new heights.
After singing at the 83rd Academy Awards—which was her sixth time performing at the Oscars—she became the artist who performed at the event the most times. From a career position, things were fantastic. Unfortunately, another tragedy was on the horizon to turn her world upside down.
Through all the trials and tribulations, the man who had stuck by her side from the very beginning was her manager and husband, Rene Angélil. When he was diagnosed with throat cancer, she had tried everything in her power to get him feeling better.
Sadly, after years of battling cancer, Rene passed away in 2016. This was one of the toughest things Celine had ever experienced. How was she going to raise their children alone? How could she continue on? They were truly each other’s soulmates, and now she had to say farewell.
To make a sad situation even sadder, Celine Dion hardly had time to let the death of her husband sink in before she was faced with another tragic loss. Only two days after Rene’s death, she had to come to terms with her brother’s death after also battling cancer.
It was almost unbelievable that the illness took both her husband and brother in the same week. Her brother had passed away on what would have been Rene’s 74th birthday. And yet, despite all the loss, Celine still found the strength to bounce back.
Celine Dion had now lost her brother, father, and husband—so she turned to her family for support. She especially put her energy into bonding with her eldest son Rene-Charles Angélil. Throughout her career, she had prioritized protecting her children from the limelight as not to overwhelm them.
Despite her feelings about her kids being spotted by the tabloids, she allowed her son to give a eulogy at Rene’s funeral. Her son appeared in the spotlight one other time when he was her plus-one at the Billboard Music Awards to present an award.
Celine was always pretty transparent throughout her years of fame, never being one to hold anything back. This was especially true when it came to losing her husband and longtime manager, Rene. In fact, she opened up a lot about the struggles that arose without him there.
On the flip side, she also has found peace and tranquility while being at home, mostly from hanging out with her kids. They all rely on each other for support in tough times—but that was going to become true in a different way shortly.
Celine Dion decided to someone especially dear to her. Her fans had heard plenty about her mom and how she was a huge influence on her growing up. But as the years went by, Celine’s mother kept to herself, and people didn’t know about any updates with her.
Celine decided to go beyond expectations on a day that she deemed to be of great importance: her mom’s 90th birthday! Celine’s fans were thrilled to see that her mother was doing well and also moved that Celine planned the party for her.
It’s already been pointed out that Celine Dion is much more than just an accomplished singer. She has always been transparent about her desire to venture into the business world—and she absolutely did that triumphantly throughout her career.
But in 2018, she shocked the world with the launching of her very own fashion collection! The creative concept of her whole brand supported gender-neutral clothing, as well as children’s clothing. In many ways, her brand message connects on a deep level with her fans.
The truth is that Dion has consistently been a prominent spokesperson for body positivity. She makes sure that any body shamers out there hear what she has something to say about it. She was extra sensitive about this because she had been body-shamed her whole life.
In an interview with People magazine, she discussed body shaming and its effects on others. She was always criticized for being “too thin,” though she said that she likes to move around, and losing weight comes with the territory. She highlighted the importance of having confidence in your own body.
It’s wild to think that Celine Dion came from such an impoverished background and became one of the world’s richest people. Even with all of the selfless donations she’s given to multiple charities over the years, her bank account is still ridiculously big.
Just for some comparison, in 2020, Forbes estimated Celine’s net worth to be valued at about $455 million. But for her loyal fans, they know that she cares about a lot more than just the money she makes.
It’s no secret that the paparazzi are infamous for harassing celebrities and not giving them space. Celebrities can react to this in a slew of ways, but Celine handled it better than most. She was always known for treating the media with dignity and understanding, always remaining calm.
She treated the interviewers with grace and respect, and maybe this is just another reason why she’s so famous. At the end of the day, she embraced all parts of stardom with a positive attitude—even when it tested her patience by getting overinvolved with her life offstage.
However, no one is immune from the tabloid’s falsehoods published across their covers. This took place in 2019 when the media took things a bit too far. After being seen spending time with fellow dancer Pepe Munoz, there were a number of rumors that Celine and he were getting romantic behind the scenes.
She responded to these rumors in an interview with Extra saying that nothing romantic was happening between them as they are best friends and Pepe is gay. She went on to say that the two enjoy dancing together and how much he has helped her mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
However, rumors continued to circulate concerning Celine’s love life. People wanted to know if she was back in the dating scene after tragically losing her husband—to which she countered that she definitely was not dating anyone.
She explained to Bizarre magazine that it is way too soon for her to consider dating. Despite losing him in 2016, she still considers herself married and in love with him. She doesn’t see herself with someone else. Not so surprising especially considering the love she and Rene shared years.
Dion was recently super open in an interview with Today magazine. She obviously misses and will always love Rene, but she is slowly becoming more open to the idea of falling in love again. Just not anytime soon. Currently, she’s happy with the people she has in her life.
But yet… she still misses some of the perks of being in a serious relationship. She said that what she misses the most are the little things: being touched, hugged, spontaneously complimented. No matter when it happens, it’s obvious that whoever gets to be her special someone is one lucky person!
Even though Celine has gone through more than her fair share of hardships throughout her life, she has also been blessed with an incredible family. If there’s one thing that Celine makes sure to be clear about, it’s her amount of gratitude for what she has.
She knows that she was given a melodic voice, an adoring husband, loving children, supportive parents, and immense career success as well! We look forward to seeing where else her talents will take her. From her music to her personal life, her journey has been an inspirational one to follow!