For Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day we celebrate the iconic Eurovision 1988 winner Céline Dion
Today is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day in the Canadian province of Quebec. It’s a province wide holiday that was introduced by French settlers to celebrate the feasting day of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Canada has given us a number of Eurovision artists, but today we celebrate one of the biggest stars to emerge from the contest, Céline Dion. Here are some of the moments in her career that have made her one of the most recognisable divas of a generation.
Shooting to fame
Céline was born in Charlemagne on the outskirts of Montreal. Her music career began in 1981 when her brother sent recordings of songs she had written with him and their Mother to music manager René Angélil. René mortgaged his house to fund an album (which turned out to be a good investment… they had a local hit with the album, he became her long-term manager, and eventually in 1994 they married). In 1982 she won the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo with the song ‘Tellement j'ai d'amour pour toi’, which went on to become another hit in Quebec.
In 1988 her career took off internationally when she entered the Swiss national final with the song ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’ (Don't leave without me). She won the selection process and represented Switzerland at Eurovision that year.
She won the contest in one of the most memorable cliff hanger endings. The final result came down to Yugoslavia, who were the final country to call in their points. They awarded 6 points to Switzerland, nudging them 1 point into the lead ahead of the UK, who had been comfortably in front and receiving high points from most countries. As the points from Yugoslavia continued to be announced up to 12, it eventually revealed they had surprisingly awarded the UK no points, making Switzerland the winner by 1 point.
First English Albums
Two years after her Eurovision win, Céline released her first English album ‘Unison’. The album was received well by critics and spawned a top 10 hit single in the US with ‘Where Does My Heart Beat Now’. The following year she released the title track for the Disney blockbuster ‘Beauty and the Beast’, as a duet with Peabo Bryson. This continued her international breakthrough, as she backed it up with another English language album that year, which achieved her fist number one single in Canada and the US with "If You Asked Me To". Both albums peaked at 15 on the Australian chart and the single of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ peaked at 17.
On top of the charts
Throughout the 90’s Céline couldn’t put a step wrong, releasing hit after hit. In 1993 she had her first number 1 album in Australia with ‘The Colour of My Love’ and her first number 1 single with ‘The Power of Love’. It continued with the albums ‘Falling into You’ and ‘Let’s Talk About Love’, both peaking at number 1 and being in the top 5 selling albums of the year in Australia. She topped off the decade with a successful Christmas album and a greatest hits album. Since 2000 she has released another 10 albums, all making the top 20 in Australia, except for four which were French language albums.
THAT Titanic song
When most people hear the name Céline Dion, one of the first things that probably runs through their head is the flute from the intro of her most successful song. She recorded ‘My Heart Will Go On’ in 1997 to be used as the love theme on the movie ‘Titanic’. The song became one of the biggest selling singles worldwide of all time, with over 18 million copies sold. The single spent 6 months in the charts in Australia, including 4 weeks at number 1 and 16 weeks in the top 10. In 2015 it re-emerging when Steve Aoki remixed it for his set at the Tomorrowland festival in Belgium. It received a great response and the video went viral. It then became fixture in his sets around the world and when Céline saw footage of huge festival crowds singing the song, she joined Aoki for a live performance at his gig in Vegas and enlisted him to remix her song ‘Ashes’.
We have seen some major duets over the years, as Céline has come together with some other impressive vocalists. Stand outs are her performances with Andrea Bocelli, Pavarotti, Barbara Streisand and Il Divo. Not being a song writer, she has also enlisted some big names to write her tracks, including Prince, P!nk, Sia, Sam Smith, R Kelly, Bee Gees and Diane Warren.
The quirky moments
At times when she has shown her quirky side, you could be forgiven for wondering whether you’re watching an iconic diva or someone’s slightly embarrassing aunty. There’s a whole afternoon worth of material to dig up if you’re looking through her silliest, strangest and most loveable moments, but the unmissable ones are probably her kooky dancing on stage with Steve Aoki at Omnia Nightclub, her “take a kayak” interview, getting down at a Lady Gaga concert, and her Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.
33 years on from her Eurovision win
Continuing one of the most successful careers to emerge from the contest, Céline is showing us she does indeed go on (and on). On her latest album, released in 2019, ‘Courage’, she again teamed up with some big-name producers and writers including Sia, David Guetta and Sam Smith. It peaked at No. 2 on the Australian and UK album charts and reached No.1 in the Billboard 200 in the United States. In 2019 she embarked on her tour to promote the album, 'Courage World Tour'. The COVID pandemic has put a pause on the tour. It is set to recommence in August this year and finish in 2023.