It was 2003 and, backstage at Caesars Palace in a theatre built specifically for her, Céline Dion and her team were scrambling. They had prepared for this for years, but something was missing. Her shoes.
During a wardrobe change, they’d gone missing. The audience was waiting. Dion went onstage, sans shoes, until her brother/stage manager, Michel, delivered the missing pair.
Nine years later, Dion, 44, has more important things to worry about: Three new pairs of shoes.
Her road to motherhood and superstardom began when she was 12. That’s when she sent René Angélil a demo tape of a song she had written with her mother and brother, Jacques. After hearing the tape and watching Dion perform in person, Angélil signed her immediately under the condition that he would have complete control over her career. Despite the age difference (he is 26 years her senior), Dion married him in 1994 (under the condition she would have complete control in the home). But it was still a seven-year wait before she gave birth to her first child, René-Charles (a.k.a. R.C.). Then, after several delays to her Vegas show, six in-vitro treatments, a miscarriage and a pregnancy that began with triplets, Dion gave birth to fraternal twins, Eddy and Nelson, in 2010.
Dion’s three children can’t even imagine their mother’s childhood. The youngest of 14 in Charlemagne, Que., Dion fought to be heard at the dinner table and slept in a cupboard drawer. But she says no one complained.
From three to a bed to three lavish homes (in Montreal, Las Vegas and their main residence on Jupiter Island, Fla.), and from growing up with “no money” to earning US$500,000 a show at Caesars Palace for 70 performances a year. From hand-me-downs to Baby Dior. Life has certainly changed for Dion.
When asked if she craves a simpler life, Dion says she already has one. “Although it sounds strange, outside my show business career, I’m a mom and a wife,” she says. “I don’t care to go out; I prefer to stay home with my family and my dog.”
Charlie, their yellow lab, has the run of a six-acre spread at the family’s Florida home. And the kiddies? They play in a massive backyard water park and have a mom who coos to them in French, the predominant language spoken in the 10,000-sq.-ft. house.
Since Dion doesn’t perform in the Sunshine State, she doesn’t hire a nanny. “We [Angélil and herself] take care of everything with the kids. We’re up with the twins early, have breakfast, then we take R.C. to school and it’s back to the house for the usual ‘mom chores.’”
It’s a different story when she’s performing Céline at Caesars Palace. There, she employs a nanny, a stylist, professionals who dress her backstage (and usually keep track of her shoes), a 31-piece orchestra, stage managers, directors and a holographic Andrea Bocelli with whom she duets. Plus, her mother and one of her sisters help out with the family while those 70 shows are staged. It’s chaos.
“It’s very stressful in show business. The difference is, as a mother, you’re always thinking about your children, 24/7,” Dion says. “That alone makes being a mother more stressful.”
Vegas may not be their main base, but owning a home in Lake Las Vegas beats touring. Dion rattles off the reasons: “Sleeping in my own bed. Grabbing something out of my own fridge. Not having to transport a year’s supply of diapers.”
It also makes for a somewhat normal life for R.C. He is tutored, plays baseball on a local sports team and bowls. He visits relatives for a few weeks every summer in Montreal and loves anything Disney.
For now, things are “normal.” That could all change after 2014, when her Vegas stint ends. Dion hints she might try for another baby. Or the family could be touring the world with her. Either way, Dion will need some sturdy shoes. Her shoe size is easy (eight), but on her ideal family size, she’s coy.
“Anywhere between three and 14. Ha!”
Dion will release new English and French albums in the fall.
What else does Céline love?
She used to perform AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” at sound checks.
His music inspired her to learn English.
Montreal smoked meat sandwiches
“Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal serves the best smoked meat sandwich in the universe.” Hmm, isn't that the same deli she and her husband now own?
“I haven’t had a lot of time to play these past few years.”
Dion owns 3,000 pairs, which she stores in her 460-sq.-ft. walk-in closet.