Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, February 9, 1999



At 30, pop diva Dion talks
about retiring, children and
what really counts
in life

By Tim Ryan


CELINE Dion's performance Friday at Aloha Stadium will be her last in Hawaii for at least two years -- maybe as long as five -- since she plans on "retiring" from show business when her current tour ends this summer.

"There's a point where you need to stop and have a balance in your life," Dion says in a telephone interview from Osaka, Japan, where she's performing tonight.

"I need to be with my friends, the people I love. I've been working for 18 years straight. I need to refuel, have contact with life, real people and real life. Show business is wonderful but not real."

And it's time, Dion, 30, says, to fulfill a dream and have children.

"Mmmmm, yes," Dion coos. "I want to work on a family of my own, try to have children with (husband) Rene, drive my own car, go on picnics, travel as normal person, not a performer. I want to be a housewife and mom.

"And I don't want to have to rest my voice anymore. I want to talk as much as I want, like right now. Normal, yes?"

The world's most popular singer does seem quite normal at this moment. There's no trace of the diva who's won Grammys and Oscars and made tens of millions of dollars. During a lengthy interview, Dion laughs at herself, jokes about her golf game, her love for Hawaii.

The French-Canadian singer has become Canada's first true global superstar and widely touted as the likely successor to Barbra Streisand. When Dion married her manager, Rene Angelil, five years ago, Canadian media called the event the "Royal Wedding."

The "Titanic" soundtrack, on which Dion sings "My Heart Will Go On," has sold more than 22 million albums, generating about $275 million in revenue for Sony Music. (The all time record for best-selling movie sound-track is 'The Bodyguard,'featuring Whitney Houston, at $31 million in earnings.)

But Dion is no overnight success. It's been 18 years since she made her first record and 10 years since winning the Eurovision song competition that propelled her to international fame as a French-language singer.

She was born in tiny Charlemagne, 30 miles east of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She is the youngest of 14 children -- eight sisters and five brothers -- in a musical family. Both her parents were musicians and operated a small club where on weekends the family performed.

Dion sang with her siblings beginning at age 5. At 12, she, her mother and brother, composed a French song that grabbed the atten-tion of future husband Angelil, who was so taken by Dion's voice that he mortgaged his house to finance the recording of her debut album.

Her international breakthrough came when she recorded the title track for the soundtrack to the animated Disney hit movie "Beauty and the Beast." The song hit No. 1 and garnered an Oscar and Grammy awards.

"Beauty and the Beast" was the foundation for Dion's second English language album, "Celine Dion" which produced four hit singles: "Love Can Move Mountains," "Water From the Moon," "If You Asked Me To" and "Did You Give Enough Love."

Is she driven to succeed? Dion describes show business as being like golf.

"You compete with yourself; you want to beat your last performance or bring your handicap down every time you go out. I'm very competitive but that doesn't mean I'm not having a great time. When I do something I just want to do it seriously. I'm serious, not obsessed."

Which comes through very clearly when she talks about cutting her career short, at least for a while.

"I know very soon I'll have a long break, retire from show business," she said. "I have a big family to reconnect with, and lots of dreams so I need lots of time for that."

Dion isn't worried about jeopardizing her career because "I have so much to gain" outside show business.

"I never got into this to win awards or make money. It's all wonderful and I love singing, but I realize now that what I want, what I need, is a different kind of happiness."

And besides, Dion said, awards and success are no substitute for friends and family.

"I don't want to ... just end up alone with money and gold records," Dion said. "When you talk to them they don't answer back."

She "refuses" to wait five years to retire because "it's much better to do it when I'm on top rather than wait until people don't want to hear me anymore."

You get the feeling that she may be trying to muster the courage to leave; that the more she talks about it the stronger she'll be emotionally when she walks away.

"Honestly, right now I don't know what else (I can) do after all this success," she said. "I don't want a hit, I want a career."

And if fans lose interest in her while she's away, "It's OK," Dion said. "I have much more than music in my life. I'm not afraid of this."


On stage

Bullet Celine Dion at Aloha Stadium
Bullet The date: 8 p.m. Friday
Bullet Tickets: $65, $45, $35
Bullet Call: Aloha Stadium, 484-1122 or the Connection, 545-4000; neighbor islands, 1-(800)-333-3388

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