Céline Dion, C.C.
- Companion of the Order of Canada – 2008
- Officer of the Order of Canada – 1998
“Where there’s music in your life,” says Céline Dion, “there is happiness.”
And there has never been a time when music was not an integral part of Dion’s life. The youngest of fourteen children who grew up in the town of Charlemagne, east of Montreal, she was named after a song called “Céline” that was released two years before her birth. At the age of five, she sang at her brother Michel’s wedding – her first public appearance. From then on, she sang with her siblings at the family-owned piano bar, Le Vieux Baril.
Dion knew exactly what she wanted from an early age. “I had one dream”, she says of her adolescence. “I wanted to be a singer.” She was twelve years old when the aforementioned Michel sent a demo tape of his youngest sister singing “Ce n’était qu’un rêve” to music manager René Angélil. Moved to tears by what he heard, Angélil took on Dion as a client and mortgaged his house to finance her debut album.
His faith was well placed. Céline Dion is the best-selling female artist the world has ever seen, with album sales approaching 250 million. Her first record, “La voix du bon Dieu,” in 1981 quickly made her a star in her home province. The francophone world beyond Quebec likewise embraced her. D’eux, released in 1995, remains the best-selling French-language album in music history, and, in 2008, Dion received France’s highest award, the Légion d’honneur. Dion’s breakthrough into the English market came in 1991 when she sang a duet with Peabo Bryson on the title track of the Disney animated film Beauty and the Beast, which later won an Oscar for Best Original Song.