Skip to main content
rob magazine
Open this photo in gallery:

Singer Celine Dion.Brian Purnell/The Globe and Mail

The queen of the heart-melting power ballad has five Grammys and enough hits to qualify her as one of the most successful recording artists in history. Since attaining nearly instant stardom at the age of 14, the now 55-year-old has sold more than 220 million records, and Forbes pegs her net worth at US$480 million.

Give it all you’ve got

Dion grew up in Charlemagne, 50 kilometres from Montreal, the youngest of 14 kids. When she was 12, her mother sent a cassette of her singing to impresario René Angélil. When they met for the first time, he famously handed her a pencil and said, “Here’s your microphone. Now sing as though you were in front of a sold-out audience.” She did, and Angélil ended up mortgaging his house to finance her first record. They started dating when she was 19 and he was 45.

Build a global fan base

At 14, the chanteuse won a pop contest in Tokyo before a TV audience of 115 million. She went on to perform in Paris, and in front of Pope John Paul II. In 1988, she was recruited to represent Switzerland at the Eurovision Song Contest. In a nail-biting finale, the curly-haired Canadian won it with “Ne partez pas sans moi,” the last French song ever to win. At the contest opener the following year, Dion performed “Where Does My Heart Beat Now.” The whole world was captivated, and the rest is history.

Trust your people

When Dion first heard “My Heart Will Go On,” the proposed theme song for James Cameron’s Titanic (then reportedly on its way to epic flopdom), she told Angélil, she hated the song and had no intention of recording it. Angélil had a feeling about it, though, and somehow he persuaded her to record a demo—which Dion nailed in one take (leaving everyone in the studio in tears). The song won her a Grammy in 1999 and remains one of her biggest hits.

Get real

Just weeks after Angélil died in 2016, the singer returned to the stage in Las Vegas, where she broke down while singing “All By Myself.” She’s been open in the years since about her grief, reminding fans that even global superstars are human. They love her all the more for it.

Laugh at yourself

Not long before Dion was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition called stiff person syndrome (forcing her to postpone her Courage World Tour), she made her acting debut as an even campier version of herself in Love Again, a rom-com released this past April. The Guardian said Dion “soar[ed] against the boundaries of taste” but was also “cheekily sincere, a true weirdo and so committed to the bit that she makes extreme cheesiness fun.” When you’re already one of the world’s most recognized stars, why not have some laughs along the way?

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe