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Celine Dion: An Agent of Change

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This paper presents the life and mission of Celine Dion from a factual and analytical perspective. The biography of this pop diva shows us, how an artist can struggle against major emotional setbacks and compassionately accomplish his/her social responsibilities. Celine Dion’s life is an example itself.

Biography: Celine Dion was born in 1968. Her full name is Celine Marie Claudette Dion and she is of French-Canadian origin. Being a teenager, she became a French-speaking teen star in her community. In 1990, she released her album “Unison” (in the English language). This album helped her to be established as a pop artist in the English-speaking world, especially in the USA. However, according to the website CelineDionWeb.com, Celine became popular in 1980s, when she released her albums chiefly intended for the French audience. She won at the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in 1982 and the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986. In 1990s, Celine continued releasing music albums both in English and French with the help of her husband and manager Rene Angelil. According to TributetoCelineDion (a website), Celine’s niece Karine died of cystic fibrosis in 1993. This was a big shock in her life and, at this point, she started patronizing the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Another shock came in 1999, when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. At that time, she was at the top of her career. However, she decided to take a break and to spend time with her family. In 2002, she returned to the very top of modern pop music once again. In 2004, at the World Music Awards she was awarded with the Chopard Diamond Award as she was hailed the all time best selling and popular female artist of the world. In 2008, she received the highest honor of France named Légion d’Honneur and was also given an honorary doctoral degree in music by Université Laval, Quebec. Currently, Celine is active both in the world of music and social work.

Celine: an agent of change

Celine Dion has been highly successful both in music and social work. She has initiated changes both in her professional and social live. She can be principally regarded as a pop star, but that is not all-in-all. Critics point out that she has a highly inter-disciplinary approach towards music and she is able to accomplish very complicated vocal, sometimes pertaining to Western Classical patterns. She uses a rare mix of pop, rock, classical, and gospel in her works. Her ability to present complicated compositions in a lucid and smooth way has changed the very concept of a pop song because of her five-star theatrical shows at the Colossum in the CaesarsPalace situated in Las Vegas. Because of an agent of change in her social life, Celine appears to be in the forefront of contemporary celebrities.

Her involvement in several organizations and foundations serving various social purposes is really outstanding. According to the website TributeToCelineDion, “Celine Dion has been a patron of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since 1993. It was in 1982 that Celine, in the age of 14, began promoting public awareness of cystic fibrosis. Her niece Karine suffered from this disease. For years, Celine has given benefit concerts, TV announcements with her little niece, and sang a song: "Melanie" dedicated to all Cystic Fibrosis children.” Celine’s involvement in the social matter of taking care for children with cystic fibrosis can be related to her personal experience. However, she has still been making changes and ventures despite her personal experience with a call of compassion. The website LookToTheStars.org enlisted several charities and foundations supported by the pop icon. These are Artists Against Racism, the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks, War Child, Reality Cares, MusiCares, the Grammy Foundation, the David Foster Foundation, etc. This is how Celine has contributed to the well-being of children in the war zones of Liberia, struggling singers and artists, sick children suffering from such diseases as cystic fibrosis and autism, etc. In 2002, Celine and her husband took on their new role of god parents for the “Growing Up Healthy” campaign organized by the Foundation de I’Hopital Sainte-Justine (a children’s hospital at Quebec). According to the website TributeToCelineDion, “They visited sick children at the hospital and Céline recorded a TV commercial to bring attention to this cause. Since it was a part of their mandate, Celine and René helped to raise 100 million dollars for donation from the public for the hospital’s development plan.”

Celine has taken part in various concerts organized for different social and humanistic matters. In 2001, Celine took part in the American charity concert “A Tribute to Heroes”. In 2005, she performed the song “In Some Small Way” at the charity concert arranged by the CBC Radio One and the CBC Television to help the victims of Tsunami in South Asia. She also organized and performed at several concerts in Las Vegas to help Tsunami victims. These included some concerts at the Colosseum as well. She gave live performance on the 8th and 2nd of July, 2005 in order to draw attention of the government and people towards the situation in the third worlld countries. Moreover, in 2006 Celine performed at the concerts in the Colosseum in the CaesarsPalace, Las Vegas, to raise funds for Hurricane victims of the GulfCoast region. She also took part in shows to raise money for Mr. Mandela’s Children Fund. Detailed information on these activities of Celine can be retrieved from the websites CelineDionWeb.com and TributeToCelineDion.

She has raised funds and donated money for downtrodden people in Liberia, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa and several other developing and underdeveloped countries of the world. But she did not stop at this. She even criticized the U.S. policy in Iraq and the Federal Government’s slow response to rescue the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Florida. This gave vent to political tensions, but Celine had decided that she would bring change and break through the traditional safe refuge of the high society profile.

An icon with difference

German has described the pop diva as “a young woman – free, independent, loving, physically and mentally stable and strong but bending” (9). In the same context, he further stated that “people which think she’s unhappy, intimidated, ill, suffering from fatigue, anorexia or bulimia, oppressed by a possessive, authoritarian, jealous husband, are wrong. They haven’t seen, they don’t know, they can’t know” (9).

The psychoanalysis of Celine would probably establish her as having a strong character of distinction and determination. Several researches have been conducted to find out how people, especially celebrities, get associated with charity programs and other similar activities. Oppenheimer and Olivola point out that “charities seem to recognize the benefit of employing celebrities in marketing communications” (157). Celine emerges as an icon with some real difference, since she boldly ventures beyond the limits of these marketing communications. Celine is compassionate, actively involved and straight forward having criticized even the Federal Government on certain occasions. That is how she appears to be so different from others.

Conclusion

Celine Dion has not only learned from her personal experience, but has ventured ahead to know about the sorrow and suffering of others. Despite being a public figure, she took the risk of criticizing the U.S. Government on several occasions. She has never compromised her professional excellence. However, on certain occasions, she behaved like an activist in the sphere of human services and human values.

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