The Transformation Of Celine Dion From Childhood To 53

The pride of Canada, Celine Dion continues to amaze multiple generations, including younger fans, with her powerful voice. Fellow Canadian Drake respectfully bowed down once when meeting her backstage. Drake reportedly told the singer that he would get a tattoo of her face on his ribs (via Metro). Though flattered, Dion told iHeartRadio that she would rather Drake write her love letters and not get the tattoo. It's easy to see why Drake and others are so infatuated with Dion, who has been a dominant figure in the music industry for decades. 

In 2016, she earned the Icon award at the Billboard Music Awards. The win came at a tragic time in Dion's life; the singer delivered an acceptance speech in tears and vowed that "the show must go on," both for the ceremony and her personal life. Fittingly, Dion then performed Queen's "The Show Must Go On," showcasing her incredible voice and strength.  

From a young age, Dion overcame obstacles and tragedies to continually record gorgeous songs. Of course, the most consistent part of her career has always been her inimitable voice that can bring fans to tears. As Rolling Stone noted, hers is one of "the greatest, most versatile voices in history." From the time before she could even sing, to her days selling out arenas around the world, this is the transformation of Celine Dion from childhood to age 53.

Celine Dion was one of many kids in her family

Celine Dion was born on March 30, 1968, in Quebec, Canada. The infant returned to the family's home in the village of Charlemagne and lived with her parents and 13 siblings. Dion's publicist claimed that the singer's mom "didn't want any more children" after having a baker's dozen already (via CNN). Allegedly, Thérèse Dion "went to see the priest and he said, 'You can't do that. You're such a good person, you can't do that.'"

According to "Celine: The Authorized Biography" by Georges-Hebert Germain, the singer's name fittingly came from music. Her mom heard the name in the song "Céline" by Hugues Aufray and chose it for her youngest daughter. But at first, baby Celine wasn't sure about music, at least not when it was her siblings' music. She would cry when her brothers and sisters sang high-pitched notes to her. 

Celine shared a touching photo with her dad on Instagram, in celebration of what would have been his 95th birthday in 2018. Two years later, Thérèse died at the age of 92, Entertainment Tonight reported. To honor her late mother, Celine posted a photo of the entire 16-person Dion family with the caption "Maman, we love you so much... We dedicate tonight's show to you and I'll sing to you with all my heart. Love, Céline."

Inside Celine Dion's upbringing

When Celine Dion was a young girl, her father Adhémar "worked as a butcher, supporting the family of 16 on $165 a week," CNN reported. Especially with so many children in the family, the Dions lived a very modest life and had to make sacrifices. For example, Adhémar walked to work just to save the bus fare, and the family was "so poor that after dinner, they would flip the plates over to have dessert." But none of this deterred the famous singer's natural abilities, and she used the dining room table as a stage when she was only 2. Her brother Michel booked a 5-year-old Celine to sing at his wedding.

Looking back on her performance at the ceremony, Celine Dion remembered singing a couple songs for the bride and groom. More than just a nice moment for her siblings, the gig would end up inspiring the young girl. "When I started to feel the love and the warmth of the audience, it got me," Celine recalled to CNN. As a result, she remembered thinking, "This is what I want to do all my life. I want to be a singer." In fact, the star became so enamored with singing that she lost interest in most everything else. She would sing and stay up late enough to miss school, which her mother Thérèse noticed. "When I did go to school I was always dreaming and singing in my head," Celine admitted to People.

Where Celine Dion's love of music came from

Based on her childhood home life, it's unsurprising that Celine Dion became a musician. Her many siblings would often use pots, pans, glasses and anything else they could get their hands on as percussion instruments. The children would perform renditions of a wide variety of tunes, including French folk songs and art songs. Additionally, the youngsters would play songs from the English-speaking world, including artists such as Janis Joplin and The Beatles, according to "Celine: The Authorized Biography" by Georges-Hebert Germain. The author told CNN that Dion grew up surrounded by "guitar, piano, drums, everything. And she was raised in this family where the music was so important."

Dion confirmed that her family's number one shared passion was music, and they even performed in concerts near their Québec home (per her official biography). She remembered as a young girl going to watch her parents and siblings play live. While she was supportive, Dion wasn't always enthralled by the shows. "I'd sleep on chairs in restaurants and bars while they sang," she admitted to People.

Not long after, Dion herself became more interested in music. "My favorite game was to sing" growing up, she remembered for Time. But she wanted to go beyond just playing a game. Dion dropped out of the school around the age of 15 to focus entirely on singing. She said classes and schoolwork were "taking me away from music, from my happiness, from my dreams."

Celine Dion had a convincing voice from the start

In 1980, Celine Dion's mother helped her young girl become a star. She co-wrote a song called "It Was Only A Dream" for 12-year-old Dion to perform, per CNN. It was a family effort because Dion and her brother Jacques also co-wrote the tune "Ce n'était qu'un rêve," the singer explained on Instagram. Dion's mom went even further and sent a tape of her daughter singing the tune to the Québec-based music manager René Angélil, who was so impressed that he invited Dion to perform in person. Supposedly, Angélil handed Dion a pencil and said, "Here's your microphone. Now sing as though you were in front of a sold-out audience," according to Dion's official biography. "While I was singing he started to cry," Dion told People about showcasing her skills to Angélil.

As a result, the music-manager believed in Dion so much that he "mortgaged his house to finance her first album." When she was 13 years old, Dion made her debut with the album "La voix du Bon Dieu" or "The Voice of God" in English, she remembered on Facebook. To promote herself as a new artist, Dion traveled with Angélil and her mom around the world. "I missed my family and my home, but I don't regret having lost my adolescence," Dion explained to People. In her mind, it was all worth it because "I had one dream: I wanted to be a singer."

Big changes for Celine Dion

As a talented young singer, Celine Dion had amazing experiences in her teenage years. For example, she visited Paris for the first time in 1982 (via Facebook). That same year, Dion "won the gold medal at the 13th Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo" at the age of 14, per her official biography. She continued an impressive run of performances and awards through her teenage years. For example, Dion earned the honor of becoming "the first Canadian to be awarded a gold album in France" and sang at Montreal's 1976 Olympic Stadium in 1984 (per her website). 

But she would soon retreat from the public eye for a slight rebrand. Dion and her manager, René Angélil, decided to take an 18-month break from performing to improve her image. "Dion's teeth were capped, her hairstyle changed, a new wardrobe was procured and she even took English classes," CNN recapped.

To the delight of fans, she returned with the release of her album "Incognito" in 1987. It was the first of her albums to be released on a major record label. At 18 years old, Dion had a refreshed sound and look, shown off in the video for her single "Lolita." "All of a sudden she had this body," her former publicist Mia Dumont told CNN. "These legs from here to there. And she was beautiful. People could see that she was beautiful," Dumont added.

Celine Dion's major win in Europe

Usually unknown to Americans, the Eurovision Song Contest has been a long-running and prestigious competition that showcases some of the brightest new musical acts in the world. Abba famously won Eurovision in 1974 thanks to their song "Waterloo," BBC reported. The band Måneskin won for Italy in 2021.

Though she is Canadian, Dion represented Switzerland at the 1988 Eurovision contest held that year in Dublin, Ireland. "It was a very strange adventure for me," Dion remembered about the experience on "The Jonathan Ross Show." In front of 600 million viewers tuning in, Dion won, as recapped on her official biography. The victory was also lucrative for her manager René Angélil. Dion said on the "The Jonathan Ross Show" that Angélil bet "a lot of money" on her to win the contest. "I felt like I was a horse and I really needed to win that race," she joked.

The night of her Eurovision win was also a turning point for Dion romantically. Around the age of 20, she shared her first kiss with Angélil (via CNN). "The hugs just became better, and his kisses moved across my cheek," Dion told People. Around this time, Dion also tried her skills at acting. She appeared in the TV series "Des fleurs sur la neige" as one of two siblings who overcame a difficult childhood.

Celine Dion's stateside debut

Following a whirlwind decade of growing her audience and getting a taste of fame, Celine Dion was ready to storm the U.S. in the '90s. She released her first English album, "Unison," in 1990. The single "Where Does My Heart Beat Now" was Dion's first song to land in the Billboard Hot 100's top ten, peaking at number four on the chart. One year later, Dion once again broke into the top five spots on the chart with her song "If You Asked Me To." 

As a native French speaker, Dion studied English to better create the songs on her album. But the creative process came with a few mix-ups along the way. For example, one producer remembered "a recording session in which he cheered Dion's best moments by shouting, 'That's b***hin!' Unfamiliar with the slang, Dion grew upset: she thought Foster was cursing her performance," Time reported.

Despite some difficulties with the finer points of English expressions, her language work paid off as Dion finally had her big breakthrough in the American market. She teamed up with singer Peabo Bryson for the title song to Disney's animated classic "Beauty and The Beast." The beautiful duet earned Dion her first Grammy Award in 1992 for best pop performance by a duo with vocal. The two singers graced the stage the following year to sing the duet In Dion's first Grammys performance.

The most historic year for Celine Dion

One of her most iconic songs, "The Power of Love," was an instant success for Celine Dion. The track became her first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed on top for four weeks in 1994. That same year, Dion had another major milestone in her personal life when she married her longtime manager René Angélil. At the time of their wedding, Dion was 26 years old and 26 years younger than her husband. 

The two were engaged in 1991 and turned their high-profile wedding into quite the spectacle. Dion and Angélil were married at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal, and the ceremony was broadcast on Canadian television, Vogue recapped. For the special day, Dion wore a stunning, "voluminous wedding dress designed by Mirella and Steve Gentile adorned with a 6-meter-long train, whose lace and crystals would have required 1000 hours of work. The whole thing was accompanied by a mythical headdress made of 2000 Swarovski crystals weighing more than 3 kilos."

The following year, Dion showed that married life didn't slow down her musical success. She released the French record "D'eux," which was literally called "The French Album" in the United States. Dion showed off her range and enlisted singer-songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman for the project, including the rocking song "J'irai où tu iras." "D'eux" was a smash hit and became "the biggest-selling French album in history, selling 10 million copies around the world," according to Dion's official biography.

Celine Dion was everywhere in entertainment

Celine Dion found her way back to the top with her 1996 song "Because You Loved Me." The ballad reached the top spot on Billboard Hot 100 and stayed at the peak position for six weeks. Ultimately, the track became the best-performing song of her career on the chart. 

Rolling in the success, Dion went to Atlanta to sing at the Olympic Games. With 3.5 billion viewers tuning in from around the world, Dion belted out "The Power of the Dream" at the opening ceremony for the competition held at Centennial Olympic Stadium. The singer posted a photo on Facebook from the event, where she had a chance "to meet her idol Nadia Comaneci," a Romanian gymnast. Later that year, Dion once again delivered a masterpiece with the powerful ballad "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," which reached number two on the chart, per Billboard.

Her 1996 album "Falling into You" won best pop album and album of the year at the Grammy Awards and went on to sell more than 30 million copies, per Dion's official biography. She performed the smash from the album "Because You Loved Me" at the 1997 Oscar awards. But she also "became the first artist to perform two songs during the Oscars" by being a last-minute stand-in for Natalie Cole, who was sick with the flu. With just a day of notice, and reading from sheet music, Dion performed "I've Finally Found Someone."

The truth behind Celine Dion's biggest song

James Cameron's 1997 masterpiece "Titanic" concludes with one of the most iconic movie songs ever, "My Heart will Go On." But the track almost never made it to the big screen because Cameron was against the idea of having a pop song at the end of his film. Behind the scenes, the composers created the song with Celine Dion's booming voice and tried to convince the director. The song's creator, James Horner, "said that he carried the tape in his pocket for four weeks, waiting for the moment when he caught Cameron in an unusually good mood," Vogue recapped.

Also, Dion's husband René Angélil convinced the song's creators to have Dion on the track. She told Billboard, "I wanted to choke my husband. Because I didn't want to do it!" Despite not feeling her best on her trip to the recording studio, Dion still showed up. "I thought, 'Sing the song, then get the heck out of there,'" she said. But the song, of course, perfectly complemented the film, which went on to be the highest-grossing film ever until 2010 (when "Avatar" took its spot). The radio version of the song then won the 1998 Grammy Awards for record of the year and best female pop vocal performance.

In 2017, Dion performed the song on its 20th anniversary at the Billboard Music Awards. Wearing a white Stéphane Rolland haute couture dress while standing underneath a stunning chandelier, Dion shook the room with her show-stopping voice, The Atlantic reported.

Celine Dion reveals why she disappeared

At the start of the new millennium, Celine Dion was continuing to thrive as a musician. But while she was at the top of the music industry, Dion made the decision to take an extended hiatus. "She disappeared from the public eye on January 1, 2000," and entered a busy and difficult time in her personal life (according to CNN). The singer reportedly stepped away from entertainment to start a family and said, "It was a must. I had to take those two years. I have met life for the first time."

In January 2001, Dion gave birth to her first son, René-Charles Angélil, named after her husband. It was a difficult journey for the singer, who went through fertility treatments and "underwent two small improve her chances of becoming pregnant," CNN reported after she gave birth to Angélil. At the time, the new mom planned to take at least two years off and even hinted at four, before returning to show business.

The hiatus didn't stop Dion from coming back in an epic way. She signed on to become the resident singer at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas in 2003. Her residency, called "A New Day," lasted until 2007. The spectacle reportedly earned $385.1 million for Dion's 714 performances and it "remains the highest-grossing Las Vegas residency for a musical artist," per The Hollywood Reporter.

Celine Dion's Vegas return

Prior to the birth of her first son, Celine Dion explained that she hoped for more children. During an interview on Québec's TVA television network, the singer said a New York fertility clinic had another fertilized in vitro embryo of hers, so she was hoping her upcoming son would have a "twin" (via ABC News). This came true quite literally during her second pregnancy when Dion announced that she was having twin boys. In a briefly scary moment, Dion was admitted to a hospital leading up to her delivery, Billboard reported. Fortunately, the singer then gave birth in October 2010 to her twins, per People. Her sons, Nelson and Eddy, had a Las Vegas baptism 10 days prior to their mother's next gig (per Dion's official biography).

This started her second residency at the famous Caesars Palace casino. Between the first and second residencies, Dion reportedly attracted 4.5 million people to her shows (via The Hollywood Reporter). Her impressive star power in the city led the way for performers like Adele and Britney Spears to later have their own Las Vegas residences. Cementing her status among other great performers in Vegas history, like Elvis Presley and the Rat Pack, Dion concluded her residency in a truly memorable fashion. Her final show concluded with "an epic finale that delivered a 20-song, hit-studded set that didn't just pull at heartstrings, but gently unraveled them," per The Hollywood Reporter.

Celine Dion's biggest loss

During Celine Dion's hiatus from entertainment starting in 2000, "I was with my husband who needed me the most at this period of his life," she told CNN. The previous year, René Angélil was diagnosed with throat cancer. This started Angélil's struggle with the disease, and he had a tumor removed in 2013. But the following year, his cancer returned. 

Celine Dion focused on her husband throughout his three rounds of cancer, People reported. Dion explained her decision to postpone shows and told People, "When I stopped performing, I wanted to be just a wife and a mother." She candidly shared with the outlet in 2015, "I am scared of losing him, because it's bad. But I have to show myself, my husband and my kids that I'm strong and we're okay."

One of Angélil's final wishes was to see Dion perform, so he watched a live steam of her Las Vegas performances, the Mirror reported. She said the shows made him happy toward the end of his life. The situation clearly gave "My Heart Will Go On" extra meaning when directed at Angélil. Knowing Angélil grew sicker each day, she said "what kept me going was that I thought of him. I did it for him." Sadly, in January 2016, Angélil died of throat cancer at the age of 73.

How Celine Dion overcame tragedy

Two days after Celine Dion's husband René Angélil died, her older brother Daniel, "the eighth of 14 Dion children," died from cancer (via The Guardian). In the aftermath of the two losses, Dion turned to an unexpected source to help heal her wounds. She started a handbag line and took a huge interest in extravagant fashion. ​​"It's amazing how a little bit of fantasy can alter our moods," she told People. "I've always loved fashion, from as far back as I can remember. But as everyone knows, I've gone through some extremely difficult times in recent years, and I suppose that I'm spreading my wings a little bit more these days and doing so with the help of beautiful clothing and accessories," she said. 

Dion already had a career of amazing looks, including her iconic Dior backwards white tuxedo by John Galliano, which she wore at the 1999 Oscars. The look was shocking and "it was avant-garde at the time" because most women would wear dresses instead of pants to award shows, Dion told People. Fortunately, the singer kept this spirit of progressive and surprising outfit choices later in her career. In 2019, Dion was a true fashionista as she went to many couture and fashion weeks shows throughout the year. She donned outfits from the biggest names in fashion — Alexandre Vauthier, Valentino, and a stunning Oscar de la Renta dress at the famous Met Gala in New York City (via Harper's Bazaar).

Viva Las Vegas for Celine Dion

Six years after releasing her album "Loved Me Back to Life," Celine Dion released her next English-language album "Courage" in 2019 (via Rolling Stone). The lyrics often focused on heartbreak since the album was her first after the death of her husband René Angélil. Also in 2019, Dion finally concluded her residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Over the course of 16 years, Dion performed at 1,141 shows at the casino's concert venue, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Continuing her domination in Sin City, Celine Dion announced on Facebook – in French and English — that she was heading back to Las Vegas for performances starting in 2021 at the Resorts World Theatre. After eight months of preparing for her return to the stage, unfortunately, the singer had to cancel her first two sets of performances. Dion was dealing with "severe and persistent muscle spasms which are preventing her from performing," she and her team shared on Instagram. Though she couldn't perform as planned in 2021, Dion reached a seriously impressive milestone of forty years in the music industry. On June 11, 2021, Dion revealed on Instagram that it was the 40th anniversary of her first single "Ce n'était qu'un rêve."

With her long run in entertainment and global appeal, Dion racked up a huge bank account. Thanks mostly to blockbuster contracts for her Las Vegas residencies, Dion was worth an estimated $800 million in 2021, according to Celebrity Net Worth.