For legendary singer Céline Dion, there has been only one great love in her life, but one that has lasted even after death parted them. Her late husband and manager René Angélil had been everything to her, personally and professionally.
From the first time Angélil heard Dion’s voice, on a demo tape recorded in 1981, when the singer was just 12 years old, to his tragic death from throat cancer in 2016, the two were inseparable.
But in the darkest hours of despair, Dion found music that helped her express her feelings and begin the healing process.
"René, you are the best father a child could ever dream to have.And you are the best husband a woman could hope to…
The story starts with an incredible voice. Angélil had himself been a singer and musician before becoming a manager. But when this seasoned pro heard the young Céline Dion sing in 1981, he knew she had the potential to be a superstar.
The song Angélil heard “Ce n’était qu’un reve” (“Nothing but a dream”) was written by Céline’s mother and brother, and featured Dion’s incredible range and power.
With Angélil’s support, it would go on to become one of her first hits. Though she was only 12, there was nothing small about her voice or her talent.
From then on, Angélil helped Céline build her incredible career, first singing in her native French for audiences in Québec, then transitioning to English and winning the hearts of listeners all over the world with her victory at the 1988 Eurovision contest in Ireland.
While the two traveled the world together with their music, it was only after Dion had grown up into a strong, independent woman that romance came along. In 1999, Dion told Larry King that she “was in love a long time” before they actually became a couple. In 1994, the two were married at the Notre Dame basilica in Montréal.
Just a few years later, in 1997, Céline Dion would give birth to their first child, René-Charles. That year brought the greatest moment of her singing career yet, as her theme song “My Heart Will Go On” for the blockbuster Titanic became one of the best-selling singles of all time.
Success after success followed for Dion and Angélil, along with two more boys, Nelson and Eddy. When Dion became the exclusive performer at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 2002, she made an astounding deal, earning $500,000 per show!
But amidst all the triumphs, tragedy struck. Her husband was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 but fought it off. However, it came back in 2013, and Angélil fought a long, terrible battle with the disease, passing away in 2016.
Angélil’s death was particularly devastating because, as Dion explained in a special performance for the fundraiser Stand Up to Cancer in 2016, “I also lost my father and my brother Daniel to cancer.” She told the audience, “I miss René everyday and the loss will now be a part of my life.”
For two people who had shared so much of their lives, this loss was nothing less than losing a part of herself. But as Dion told Good Morning America in 2016, “today for me, it’s like I don’t live with him physically, but I live with him inside of me.”
In the midst of coming to terms with this tragic loss, Dion drew strength from what had brought her and René together in the beginning: music. She told the audience at Stand Up to Cancer: “I received an unexpected gift from an amazing artist that I have always admired, Pink. She offered me a song that expresses the power to stand up and stay strong, the most wonderful song is called ‘Recovering.'”
Watch Dion’s heartbreaking performance of this song about love and loss, whose finale features images of her father, husband, and brother on screen. A tribute to love and fidelity that will move you and bring you to tears.