She sang a duet with opera giant Luciano Pavarotti; she sells out the UK's legendary Wembley venue; and she has sung for the Pope. Not many middle-of-the-road balladeers have a profile as high or a career as successful as Canadian crooner Celine Dion.
The Quebec-born songbird has notched up worldwide sales of 110 million, plus another 30 million just for the Titanic soundtrack. My Heart Will Go On, a song James Cameron nearly jettisoned from the film, is the most played radio hit in history, according to Billboard magazine.
Celine, born March 30, 1968, began her career at the age of 12. The youngest of 14 musical brothers and sisters, she recorded a three-song demo and sent it off to record producer Rene Angélil, whom her brother Michel had met a few times. After two weeks of waiting by the telephone Mum Therese had stationed her brood in shifts round the clock waiting for his call Michel began pestering the music magnate. With Rene finally on the line, Celine's brother said: "I know you haven't listened to the demo. 'Cause if you had, you'd have already called us." Ten minutes after the conversation ended, Rene called back and Celine's been working ever since.
Her debut album, La Voix de Bon Dieu, was recorded in 1981, but her first English language effort didn't appear until nine years later. She made her name with a series of ballads for films including Beauty and the Beast and Sleepless in Seattle. Then came Titanic. Celine's My Heart Will Go On propelled the soundtrack to worldwide sales of nearly 30 million, unheard of for a mostly instrumental album. For six weeks she sank the competition, anchoring the number one and two spots on the Billboard charts with Titanic and Let's Talk About Love.
Financially all was plain sailing - her 1998 tour grossed $35 million dollars, with which she could buy several Heart of the Ocean pendants, as well as her own cruise ship - but she had little reason to sing at home. In April 1999, Rene was diagnosed with skin cancer and a long planned retreat from the spotlight suddenly became a priority; he was given a clean bill of health in June of the following year.
During Celine's time-out from the music scene the couple had been trying desperately for a baby, and in June 2000 their prayers were answered when the couple learned that Celine was pregnant. She gave birth to a baby boy, René Charles, on January 25, 2001. Married in 1994, the two renewed their vows in a glitzy ceremony at a Las Vegas casino in January 2000.
A further struggle to conceive again ensued, however, and the mum-of-one was open and honest when it came to her desires to have another child. However, after many failed IVF treatments, that wish was granted twice over with the arrival of twin boys in October 2010. "This is the greatest thing that could've happened to us," said the proud 68-year-old dad. "I hope to provide to them all of the love that I can for as long as I can."
Sadly, in January 2016, Rene passed away following a battle with throat cancer. Celine was struck with further tragedy two days later when her brother Daniel also died of cancer.