From her humble roots as a French-language teenage pop singer to international superstardom, Canadian singer Celine Dion became a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning crossover success in the '90s after breaking into the English-language market with heartfelt ballads that shined a spotlight on her powerful and inimitable voice. In addition to winning first prize at the 1988 Eurovision song contest, Dion also scored multiple Grammy awards, including Album of the Year for 1996's Falling into You.
Her award-winning contributions to film soundtracks helped expand her presence into the pop culture mainstream, most notably with songs like "Beauty and the Beast" from the 1991 Disney animated film and the blockbuster "My Heart Will Go On" from 1997's box office smash Titanic. Decades into her career, her status as a beloved pop icon was further cemented with a record-breaking Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, making her one of the highest-grossing artists of all time.
Born on March 30, 1968 in Charlemagne, Quebec, Céline Marie Claudette Dion was one of 14 children in a large family that fostered a love of music. She started singing at a young age, performing at the family's piano bar and at her older brother's wedding. Pursuing her dream of becoming a singer, she wrote her first song "Ce N'etait Qu'un Rêve" (It Was Only a Dream) in 1980 with her mother and brother. Released in June 1981, the single peaked in the Top 20 of the Quebec singles chart and landed on her debut full-length La Voix Du Bon Dieu (Super Etoiles/Saisons), which was released in November of the same year.
Under the guidance of producer and manager René Angélil, Dion went on to win "Top Performer" and "Best Song" at the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo and multiple Felix Awards in her native Quebec for her third effort, Tellement J'ai D'amour…, which won Best Pop Album, Newcomer of the Year, and Female Vocalist of the Year. The album was certified platinum in Canada while leaping to France, where it also became a hit. A steady stream of releases followed into the late '80s, including four studio albums, a handful of compilations, and a pair of Christmas collections, which helped her make inroads into international markets like Belgium and Switzerland.
In 1987, Dion received a full pop makeover on her eighth LP, Incognito (CBS Records). The double-platinum set spawned five hit singles and was promoted with a Canadian tour that included a multi-month residency at the Saint-Denis Theatre in Montreal. In the midst of Incognito's whirlwind success, Dion won the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, representing Switzerland with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi." Poised for greater international exposure, Dion finally made her move beyond her French-language Canadian releases, taking aim at the U.S. pop mainstream at the turn of the decade.
Released on Columbia Records in April 1990, Unison was Dion's first English-language album, following a concerted effort to improve her language skills and vocal training. The leap paid off and Unison was a massive success, selling more than a million copies in the U.S. and millions worldwide. In addition to singles "Have a Heart" and "Unison," the album also included Billboard hits like "The Last to Know," "(If There Was) Any Other Way," and "Where Does My Heart Beat Now," which peaked at number four on the Hot 100 and number two on the Adult Contemporary chart. Unison's performance helped Dion attract the attention of Disney and she was recruited for 1991's "Beauty and the Beast," a duet with Peabo Bryson from the animated film of the same name. Produced by Walter Afanasieff and penned by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, the ballad was a Top Ten hit, winning Dion a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
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