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Celine Dion performed My Heart Will Go On to dying husband as his final wish

Mirror logo Mirror 22/11/2019 Samantha Fraser & Nick Harding
Celine Dion, Rene Angelil, Celine Dion standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Celine Dion's husband's dying wish was to watch her perform My Heart Will Go On © Provided by Reach Publishing Services Limited Celine Dion's husband's dying wish was to watch her perform My Heart Will Go On

Standing on a Las Vegas stage, Celine Dion belted out her signature ballad My Heart Will Go On as thousands of fans screamed their adoration. Yet there was only one person Celine was singing to. At her family home a few miles away, her dying husband Rene Angelil watched the performance via a live link from his bed. Riddled with cancer, he was too ill to go to his wife’s legendary live shows but his dying wish was for her to perform. He died soon after.

Almost four years since pop icon Celine was widowed, she says: “It wasn’t therapeutic for me, it was therapeutic for Rene. “For him it was very important because I took a year off to take care of him but towards the end he said to me, ‘I need to see you go on stage and sing, I want to make sure, I need to see it’.” The 51-year-old mum-of-three says of the final performances Rene saw: “I didn’t feel like partying or putting on short dresses and feathers. 

“But what kept me going was that I thought of him. I did it for him. “When I came home, he was so happy.” Rene suffered multiple health problems throughout the couple’s 21-year marriage. He had a heart attack in 1991 at 49 and in 1999 was diagnosed with throat cancer but recovered after treatment. Then in 2013 the disease returned. In September 2015, Celine announced that Rene had only “months to live”.

He died of a heart attack in January 2016, aged 73. He had discovered Celine when she was 12 and remortgaged his house to finance her first album. Celine was born in French-speaking Canadian Quebec. She was the youngest of 14 and grew up in poverty, wearing hand-me-downs and sharing a bed with several sisters.

Celine Dion brushing her teeth in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Celine performing in September 2019 © Getty Celine performing in September 2019 In her autobiography My Story, My Dream, Celine reveals she was infatuated with Rene when she was a teenager but hid her feelings from him and her mother, who went everywhere with her until she was 19.

She became a teen star in the 80s after being taken under 38-year-old Rene’s wing. Their relationship eventually turned to romance after Celine won the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin in 1988 aged 20. They got engaged in 1993 and married in December 1994.

Rene Angelil, Celine Dion posing for the camera: Celine Dion and late husband Rene Angelil © FilmMagic Celine Dion and late husband Rene Angelil The couple had three children together, Rene-Charles, 18, and twins Eddy and Nelson, both nine. Celine has said that Rene was the only man she ever kissed. Even though she knew he was dying, she was still unprepared for the loss of her soulmate. “It is like you’ve been hit suddenly. You’re never ready for it” she says.

“It was hard and now I have to fly on my own. I always thought that I was strong, but I think I’m stronger than I thought. And it’s all because of the help and love and the knowledge Rene gave me.” Despite being a global superstar, Celine still has her feet on the ground when it comes to parenthood. Her eldest, who she calls RC, has a girlfriend and Celine keeps an eye on his romance without being too controlling.

a person posing for the camera: Celine at her husband's funeral in 2016 © WireImage Celine at her husband's funeral in 2016 She says: “You have a rope and you pull it a bit and you have to give a little bit and that’s hard because if you pull too much, they’re going to go and do it somewhere else. If you say, ‘Don’t go there’, you turn around and they’re right there. So, it’s a balance. I don’t want him to hide anything from me.” And she’s a big fan of RC’s young lover. “His girlfriend is wonderful,” says Celine.

“It was tough for him to lose his dad. And he’s finding some love.” Romance has also helped him support his little brothers through their grief. “His girlfriend makes him see that for the twins to see their big brother is so important. He’s their hero, they love him so much and then they look at her and they’re in love with her. It’s so sweet,” says Celine. While she’s encouraging her eldest son’s love life, she’s still not ready to fall in love again herself.

Rene Angelil posing for the camera: Celine has said that Rene was the only man she ever kissed © ExpressStar Celine has said that Rene was the only man she ever kissed “At this moment in time I don’t have a boyfriend, I’m not looking to have a boyfriend, it’s not in my near future,” she confirms. But you can’t keep the queen of the power ballads down for long and she believes one day she may be swept off her feet again. “Maybe something will strike me. When it’s real love, it’s something that you’re not looking for. “It’s not like going shopping. I’m not going shopping for love,” she laughs.

Her most famous song, Titanic movie tune My Heart Will Go On, remains one of the most successful songs ever recorded. Her Las Vegas concerts have made her one of the most lucrative live performers in pop history. In fact Celine is reportedly worth anywhere between $450million and $800million, which means she could be a magnet for gold-diggers and is unlikely to be on Tinder any time soon though.

Celine Dion holding a wine glass posing for the camera: Celine Dion and son Rene-Charles Angelil at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards © Getty Celine Dion and son Rene-Charles Angelil at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards Celine says: “I’m not going to bring anyone in front of my children that I don’t trust. So, I might not love in partnership with anyone for the rest of my life.” Now she’s back with a new album called Courage, her first English-language collection since Loved Me Back To Life in 2013. “I’m enjoying myself,” she says. “I feel in control. I’m proud of my new album, it took a while, it was fun and emotional as well.”

She made the album in memory of her late husband, who she says will always be with her. “He’s done so much for me and it’s something that tragically happened to the whole family, losing my manager, my best friend, my husband, the father of my kids. So for me to sing, it was not sad, it was just like, ‘OK I’m going to prove myself and he’s going to feel that because he’s with me.’ “I lost a big part but I keep going because love will always win.”

Gallery: Best musicians of the 1990s (USA TODAY)

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