Friday, February 13, 2009

Celine Dion - Francophone Impersonator

Celine Dion has begun another set of sold out concerts at the Bell Centre as described in the review in by T'CHA DUNLEVY in today’s The Gazette. The show is reported to be the same one she gave last year and one that I had the dubious pleasure of attending.

My wife is a fan and when her friend offered up a gracious invitation to a corporate box, I could only smile and accept my fate.

Music aside, my dislike for Dion goes back to her behavior at the beginning of her career and her performance at the concert last year confirmed that she is the same two-faced person she always was.

After her early success as a French artist, her manager, Rene Angelil sensing her world-wide potential, positioned her to conquer the North American market. After learning English and releasing her first English album “Unison” she became a bona fide rising star on the English language pop scene.

Some of her faithful Quebec fans called her a sell-out and Dion defended herself with an unpardonable insult to the English.

The annual Félix Award show salutes Quebec artists. The gala event is a big deal in Quebec, but nowhere else. It is shown exclusively on the French language network and in 1992, it was there where she decided to show her “French” face by pulling a grandstand stunt. After winning the 'English Artist of the Year' for her English language album, she marched up to the stage and refused to accept the award, claiming that she was and forever would be a French artist, not an English one. Hmmm.
Guided by her astute manager Rene Angelil, her career exploded after an association with fellow Canadian super producer David Foster and she quickly became what she promised she would never become - an English artist.
Her album art work reveals the transformation from French artist to English. She dropped the accent ‘egeu’ (‘é’) in her first name and adopted the English pronunciation of her name- ‘CEE-LEAN- DEE-ON’ from the French version- ‘SAY-LEAN DAY-ON’

After an exhausting career, the Angelil family settled down to family life in a luxury Las Vegas estate as Celine fulfilled a five year run an an Anglophone artist at Caesar Palace. She became the darling of entertainment media and cleverly pushed her career onto the world stage.

Each year, she returned to perform in Montreal, where she would magically transform herself back into a unilingual Francophone.

Notwithstanding the sizable percentage anglophones in the audience, the Montreal concert is a uniquely French affair with nary a ‘how-de-do’ in English.
The opening opening act, an impersonator who did a take on various French artists, was the harbinger that English is not welcome. Opting for a bunch of weak French songs instead of her mega English hits and her exclusive French interaction with the audience is meant to maintain the fiction that she is a francophone artist.

That ship sailed long ago.
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