The fall of '97 was a great season for Quebec starson the world stage. In late October, Jacques Villeneuve was crowned this year's King Of Grand Prix motor racing. Just a few weeks later, Celine Dion consolidated her claim on the title of World's biggest female pop superstar by releasing her newest sure-fire smash album, "Let's Talk About Love".She launched it in fittingly extravagant fashion via a love, interactive press conference beamed via satellite to 41 different countries. VJs Germany, France, and England were linked to a Telemetropole Studios in Downtown Montreal. An event glitzy enough to send profile scribe Kerry Doole up the 401 to attend Dion's global soiree and dust off his highschool french. Two weeks later, Phase 1 of the press conference was broadcast to the US, Asia, and Australia.
Making her studio entrance in hip-hugging grey leather pants and black top, Dion looked relaxed. As she should, for she's no stranger to theses studios. In his introduction, manager/husband Rene Angelil recalled her TV debut here , June 19th 1981, as the beginning of Dion's show business career. She'd then have been an awkward 13-year old. Now nearing 80, she stands at the very summit of show-biz. The figures on Let's Talk About Love are simply mind-boggling. Three weeks before its street date(simultaneously in over 60 countries Nov. 18th 1997), advance international orders totalled over ten million. Through Novemberm she was all over television, doing the rounds of Rosie O'Donnell, Good Morning America, Sesame Street, as well as appearinf with new friends The Bee Gees on their Vegas Concert and alongside Barvra Streisand on a tribute show for producer/composer David Foster. Then she was off on a promotional tour of Europe that included a performance in front of Queen Elizabeth in London. Only the very foolish would be against Let's Talk About Love dominating world pop music charts in the months ahead. Dion's star power has never burned brighter and just check this for a guest list on her album: Barbra Streisand, Carol King, Luciano Pavarotti, The Bee Gees and legendary Beatles producer, Sir George Martin. Whew!
Dion claims such a lineup was something she could never have fantasized. "That's why this album is just amazing. Everything on this album isn't a dream come true, as I never could have dremt about something like this! I remember when we would knock on people's doors-'would you writee me a song?'. Now it's like we're all visiting each other as neighbours. I'm very proud of that. On this album, I'm sharing what I love to do the most, singing with people who love singing as much as I do. Now I can't wait to go home open the CD -we don't have copies yet-and listen to every song!"
No surprise that the world's top singers, song writers, music and film producers and banging on Dion's door, lusting after a piece of the action. After all, Falling Into You was 1996's best-selling album(over 26 million copies world-wide) and a grammy-winner as Best Pop Album, and Album of the year. Also knocking was Tommy Mottalo, President of Dion's record label, Sony. At his urging, Dion cancelled plans for taking '97 off. "After such a big hit, you want to stop for a while. Make people forget the album, do something else, then come back strong. We were really supposed to that this year off," she explains.
Angelil picks up the story. "One day Tommy Mottola called and said he wanted to meet with me. I knew something was cooking. 'Instead of waiting a year, why not do something that can be ready for this season?'. Celine and I agreed we'd start and see what kind of songs came up and if, by October 1, we felt we didn't have what it takes, we wouldn't release it but would keep working on it for another year or so. As if by magic, all things came together, A lot of writers, composers and producers came to the table with some great songs."
These included Canadian songwriters Corey Hart, Bryan Adams and David Foster, but Dion says this is coincidental. "I've never felt I had to take canadian songs. Good songs come from everywhere. It doesn't matter where it's from or whether its written by someone famous.". Angelil and Dion scoff at stories of a 'Diva War' between Dion, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey(ironically, Mottola's ex). Dion insists "I'm not in competition with other singers, I'm only in competition with myself."
So just what makes Dion pop's reigning female superstar? Obviously, there's that phenomenal voice, whose range and clarity has few equals. During the filming of the recording of her duet with Streisand, 'Tell Him', Streisand gave dion a quick but telling glancem clearly awed by Dion pipes. Growing up as one of 14 children will likely prevent Dion ever acting too spoiled. At the press conference, a video records the sessions for Let's Talk About Love she looks slightly embarassed as Carole King sings her praises and the Bee Gees declare her "the finest female pop singer in the world.", with Maurice Gibb shedding a tear at her moving rendition of their song 'Immortality'.
Judging from an advance listen, this is Dion's most musically adventurous album yet. Her trademark big ballads are there in abundance, but she ventures into the world of rap and Jamaican dancehall with the upbeat 'Treat Her Like A Lady'. It isn't exactly Salt-N-Pepa but give her credit for daring to be different. 'Tell Him' is already a hit and 'My Heart Will Go On (love theme from Titanic)' will benefit from the massive advertisingblitz surrounding the movie. In another sign of Dion's clout, Titanic director James Cameron personally screened top-secret footage of the epic in his bid to recruit her for the theme song
Dion singles out 'The Reason'(written by Carole King, produced by George Martin) as a highlight, "If I had to choose one song to represent my style and who I am, it'd be that one. I love singing ballads and I think people expect that from me. But I do love rock & rool, and things with an edge. 'The Reason' is a wonderful ballad but it has an edge too." Dion calls the new album her "newborn", and is clearly proud of it. "I've been so much a part of this one too.
"Having more experience in show business and being more in control than ever is a great feeling. I feel like I'm holding my own reins, with my team behind me." Ready to take the reins if the going gets bumpy is the ever-present Angelil. He handles the few controversial questions raised at the conference, such as queries about unautorized biographies and gossipy tabloid items on such topics as her marriage and rumoured eating disorders. Yes, he sued(successfully) and would again!
Dion repears her desire to have a baby ans is pleased to be nearing 30. "It makes me feel closer in age to(50-something) Rene!". After the inevitable world tour next year, she intends to take time off from music, even hinting at retirement. "I don't mean to sound pretentious, but this is the best album I can give. I always said If I cannot come up with a better album, I will not record another one. I hope something better will come up but, if not, maybe I'll do movies or maybe we'll raisw 14 children!"
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