Céline Dion’s success is staggering. Her career was launched at the age of 12 and the superstar has been performing ever since. The French-Canadian singer has recorded albums in both English and French and has racked up several hits in her decades-long career. But life has not always been easy for Dion, in spite of her early success. From an impoverished childhood to the loss of her husband, Dion has had to overcome many obstacles. It’s no coincidence that one of her most iconic hits is “My Heart Will Go On” — Dion is a shining example of triumph in the face of adversity.
Music is in her blood
Dion’s powerhouse pipes are a family trait. Her parents are also musicians, and as a baby she went on tour with their singing group, Dion’s Family. A few years later, her parents opened a piano bar where Dion wowed customers with her soon-to-be-famous vocals. Her mother later helped her write a song for a demo tape, which landed Dion her first recording contract at the age of 12.
She grew up poor
The megastar comes from humble roots. The youngest of 14 children, life was not always easy for Dion growing up. With so many children, the house was overcrowded. “We were three, four in the same bed,” Dion told CBS News. “I did not have a bedroom. Up the stairs, before going in the bedrooms, there was a little ramp. And my bed was there. So everybody went up, they saw me, and I could wave goodbye and goodnight.”
Despite the lack of money, Dion insists that her family wasn’t poor where it really mattered. “We were given love and affection and support,” she told Vanity Fair. “What else did we need?”
She met her future husband at the age of 12
Dion was just 12 years old when she met the love of her life, although she didn’t know it at the time. It would take another five years for her to fall for her manager, René Angélil, in spite of the 26 year age difference. Her mother did not approve of the relationship at first, but eventually came around. “She had no choice,” Dion told Access Hollywood. “Love won.”
Angélil passed away from cancer in 2016, and Dion is still grieving his death. “I will probably grieve for the rest of my life,” she told Digital Spy. The singer told CBS that she does not see herself falling in love again. “I’m still in love with him,” she said. “And I have the love of my children. I have the love of my fans. I love the people that I work with. So my life is not empty of love.”
She added, “But there’s a song from Sia, ‘I go to sleep and imagine that you’re there with me.’ And I go to bed with him. And I come on stage with him. And so I’m still married to him.”
She struggled with infertility
Dion struggled for years to have a child. Her battle with infertility made having children difficult, but she finally had three children who were all conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). After giving birth to her first child, René-Charles, she went through another six rounds of IVF before conceiving her twins, Nelson and Eddy.
Dion was determined to have another child, even if it cost her the career she had worked so hard for. She had signed a contract with Caesars Palace but postponed in order to undergo treatments. “People stop because it’s very expensive but I kept on going,” she told Daily Mail. “I was not going to stop just because I had a contract for singing. I would have hated every song for the rest of my life, so I said try to postpone the Caesars Palace shows because it wasn’t a good enough reason for me not to try for a baby. A life or a contract? I couldn’t live with that.”
Fame isn’t that important to her
Many celebrities have their heads turned once they become famous, but Dion has stayed firmly grounded throughout her career. “It has nothing to do with the albums, the money, the awards and how many records I’ve sold,” she told Taste of Life. “I’m still on stage because I still love that part of my life, but what I’m most proud of, what I consider my biggest success, is my family — my three beautiful children.”
She doesn’t watch TV
Believe it or not, Dion doesn’t even watch reality singing competitions on television. She would no doubt have been a hit on a show like American Idol, but it turns out that TV shows aren’t her style. She told Woman’s Weekly that she is “glad” that she was born before the heyday of reality TV.
“If I was starting my career now I doubt that I would of had any other option than to enter one of those shows,” she said. “But I’m glad that I didn’t start my career now. I don’t watch TV and so I can’t say that I’m a fan to be honest.”
Dion added that these days everything is about her kids. “I’m not part of the music industry and what’s going on these days, I just perform and then go back to my family,” she said.
She’s a homebody
In spite of all the glitz and glamour, Dion has always been happiest when she’s relaxing at home. She’s never been one for going out, preferring to spend time with her family. “I’m not a party girl,” she told W back in 2007. “I’m very fortunate to have my husband — who’s 65 — not only because I love him, but because it would not work to have a husband my age who wants to go out twice a week. I would go crazy.”
She’s not bossy, she’s the boss
It should come as no surprise that Dion calls the shots. After launching her handbag and accessory line and parting ways with her former manager, Aldo Giampaolo, she made it clear that she’s in charge. “Let me be clear…. I am the boss,” she said to journalists at the launch of her line (via Montreal Gazette). In the wake of her husband’s death, Dion has found new strength.
“I went through a lot and I’m not the only one,” she said. “People have gone through a lot, and so they probably understand what I’m saying right now. Sometimes when you go through a lot, whether it’s disappointment or a loss, there is a force that takes over when you believe.”
She’s a total fashionista
If you aren’t already looking up to Dion as a major style icon, it’s about time that you do. In 2016, she started working with stylist Law Roach who works with other big stars like Ariana Grande and Zendaya.
Roach told Elle he was “freaking out” when Dion’s team approached him. “I mean, you have superstars and you have legends,” he said. “Celine is an icon. She is an absolute icon.”
Roach has helped the singer revamp her style, but says that he was surprised at how fashion-savvy Dion was even before they met. “The thing about Celine is she’s very into fashion,” he said. “She reads the magazines and she’s very current. Which I was surprised about.” Roach added that designers are loving Dion’s look. “Everyone’s clamoring to dress her now,” he said.
She’s a driven perfectionist
Dion’s driven personality has no doubt played a huge role in her incredible success. She puts in long hours to make sure that her music is flawless. Diane Warren, who has written some of Dion’s most iconic songs, told Billboard what is “impressive” about working with the singer. “I went to her show, and it’s almost two hours,” she said. “She’s not lip-synching. She’s singing songs that aren’t easy to sing. Then we went in the studio at 11:30 at night and she stayed until, like, 4 a.m. and would not leave until it was perfect. I kept thinking, ‘That’s why she’s going to be around forever.'”
According to Warren, Dion’s dedication is a rarity in the music industry. “A lot of times you work with singers and they’re like, ‘Aw, I’ll finish next time,'” she said. Dion, however, gives it her all. “There’s too few people like that,” Warren said.
She believes being cool is about being confident
There are so many reasons to admire Dion, but one of the biggest reasons that she’s a role model is because she is so unabashedly herself. With Dion, what you see is what you get. She told The Guardian, “For me, being cool is to feel happy and stable and sure of myself. I think when you become a parent you become more involved in life. I take every decision more carefully.”
Dion is living life on her own terms, as we all should. “In the beginning I needed to prove myself to the industry,” she said. “Not any more. I’m doing this for fun.”
She’s an open book
Perhaps it is Dion’s realness that has made her so beloved by her fans. Dion certainly thinks so. “I’ve been an open book all my life, and I think that’s why people like me,” she told V magazine. “I’ve been criticized for it, but I’m not forcing myself to be the person that you see.” Her public persona isn’t some act that she puts on. “I’m like this in my real life,” she said.