Celine 'Heart' Opens On 'A New Day'

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

There's a new driving force in Celine Dion's career. Her $10 million contract to become the face and vocal signature of DaimlerChrysler has prompted a new album, "One Heart," just a year after her high-profile return from a two-year hiatus with "A New Day Has Come." The new Epic set will be released March 25, timed to a tee with the opening of her ambitious three-year, 600-date gig at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

In the process, Dion has drawn her own roadmap to success, relying to a high degree on outside partnerships to fuel album and ticket sales. Instead of seeking initial exposure on the radio, the Canadian chanteuse's current single "I Drove All Night," was introduced to millions via a series of slick Chrysler commercials during the January Golden Globe Awards and Super Bowl telecasts. Dion has also teamed with Coty to launch her own fragrance, Celine Dion Parfums, again, on March 25. According to the company, she "represents women's aspirations for an exciting but balanced lifestyle as an artist, wife, and mother."

Indeed: Amid the business mania, in December 2002, Dion, 34, celebrated her eighth wedding anniversary with manager Rene Angelil and in January 2003, the second birthday of their child, Rene-Charles.

It all earmarks the latest chapter in a career songbook that supports a virtual one-woman industry and boasts unparalleled reward with worldwide album sales of more than 150 million -- making Dion the best-selling female artist of all time.

"I've always tried to surpass myself and try new things," Dion says. "I'm at a point in my life where I feel totally centered. I'm strong, I'm grounded, I'm doing things as they come, and I'm choosing the ones that make me happy. I can have meals at home and sleep in the same bed every night, which is a big deal for me, along with the chance to continue in show business and record this new album. It is the best I could ask for."

Musically, "One Heart" is a relaxed, even playful aural opus, centered more on expanding Dion's creative capacity than pumping out searing diva vocals. Worldwide hit "I Drove All Night" rumbles with manic fervor, while many of the remaining 13 tracks are atypically uptempo. "Love Is All We Need" showcases a glimmer of eye-winking raunch rock; "Naked" and "Reveal" are as loose and slinky as we've ever heard Dion; and the title track and "Faith" rally as giddy pop anthems. On the slower side, the affecting "In His Touch" and "Je T'aime Encore" are cast as sparse torch songs rather than monster power ballads. There are definitely new sounds on the album.

"The glove fits; I'm very happy with the results," Dion says of the new album. "It's light and fun, but I also consider it more emotionally raw. There's always been a lot of control in my technique; this time, if there were tears of emotion, I let them come forward and I would follow the feeling."

"One Heart" was recorded at studios in Las Vegas and Florida and completed in only two weeks before the end of January, well in advance of its release, so that Dion could focus on a rigorous rehearsal schedule for her show. After beginning work last summer in Belgium, Dion and her troop began full run-throughs at Caesars on Feb. 17.

And what an undertaking "A New Day" is. The 90-minute, 20-song multi-media affair -- for which Dion is receiving a reported $100 million -- weaves her dramatic performance style with such unorthodox concert flares as flying, acrobatics, and virtual time travel. The spectacle is cast in the spirit of the famed Cirque du Soleil, directed by Franco Dragone, and features a cast of 60 dancers, musicians, and other performers. "It's about putting every song on a pedestal, not only vocally, but visually and emotionally," she says.

The $95 million, 4,000-seat venue, deemed the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, sports a stage that is 22,450 square feet and 44 feet high, with the largest indoor video screen in North America above it. Five cable-driven lifts are built into the stage, along with a micro-climate system designed to maintain humidity at 55% to protect Dion's vocal chords from Nevada's desert climate. Tickets for "A New Day," staged nightly Wednesday through Sunday, range from $87.50 to $200.

For Dion, the bustling adventure ahead creates an ideal balance between family and career. "I'm the happiest I've been in my life right now," she says. "I have fans that have supported me for 23 years, and now I want to say, 'Thanks for those wings. Now, I'm opening the doors to my new home if you want to come.' And yet I'll do my show from 8:30 to 10 and I'm home at quarter to 11. My son is a nightbird, so hopefully I can play with him a bit and put him to bed. Otherwise, I'll take a hot bath and watch a movie with my husband. Then we'll fall asleep and in the morning, we'll all be together. What more could I ever hope for?"

Excerpted from the March 22, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services.

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