SA loved Celine Dion back to life

2013-11-10 14:00

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When Celine Dion’s 12-year-old son discovered that Australian singer Sia had written the first single on his mother’s new English album, he was horrified.

The music superstar laughs as she recalls “RC’s” reaction.

“Sia? he said to me. But she writes for Rihanna. She can’t write for you!”

Dion (45) has just released her first English album in years, Loved Me Back to Life.

A great deal has changed for one of pop’s biggest stars since she kicked off her Taking Chances world tour in South Africa in 2008.

For one thing, she’s never got over her love affair with the country.

“It’s amazing that South Africa never came out of us. It’s an adventure we’ll never forget. It’s within us. From the people to the nature, to Madiba ... thank you for that miraculous tour,” she says.

But it seems she’s not just paying lip service. After all, one of her twins is named after Nelson Mandela.

She and her husband, Rene, met Madiba in South Africa, where her shows helped raise money for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

She says: “He changed our lives. He became, and will always remain, such a beautiful emotional balance of positivity and strength. I can’t think of any other name that could reflect so much.”

The singer, who battled fertility issues for years, gave birth in the wake of the Taking Chances tour. She named the second twin after Eddy Marnay, the late French lyricist who was her father figure in the music business.

“We wanted to have hero names in the family,” she says.

Her career as a French singer has blossomed, but her return to English lyrics comes at a time when new young names dominate music. Once it was Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston; now it’s Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus.

“I’m happy I don’t have to start my career now. People are now demanding a lot more from artists.”

Unlike the Beyoncés and Britneys of today, Dion doesn’t have a Twitter account – at least, not one she runs herself.

She doesn’t Instagram, she doesn’t spend much time on the internet. In fact, it’s been said she rarely even uses a cellphone.

“It’s hard for us to learn the new ways of communication. This ‘twitting’ or ‘tweety bird’ or whatever it is, I don’t know, I have no time,” she says of Twitter.

“They [her management team] try to show me, but maybe one day my kids will have to teach me.”

Sia’s not the only modern pop star to feature on Dion’s new album. She duets with Ne-Yo on a song called Incredible.

Where most multiplatinum-selling artists would stick to their way of singing, she worked on sounding more like an R&B star.

In behind-the-scenes footage of the album, you can hear her trying to drop the “g” in the word ‘something’.

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