Celine Dion is one of world’s most cherished performers. She’s sold more than 220 million albums worldwide and won five Grammys and two Oscars. You probably can’t hear her name without getting “My Heart Will Go On”—or one of her other dozens of hit songs—stuck in your head. But of all her accomplishments, it may be her three children that Dion is the most proud of.
Dion is mother to 10-year-old twins Eddy Angélil and Nelson Angélil, and a 20-year-old son named René-Charles Angélil. While Eddy and Nelson are still too young to know what their professional lives hold yet, René-Charles is already following in his mother’s footsteps. Read on to learn more about Celine Dion’s oldest, René-Charles, and his budding music career.
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René-Charles’ early life was filled with paparazzi.
Celine Dion met her future husband René Angélil when she was still a teenager, and the record producer spent many years managing her before they began a romantic relationship. The pair started dating when Dion turned 18, but didn’t publicly reveal their relationship until 1993, when Dion was 24. They married at the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal in 1994, in a ceremony that was broadcast on Canadian television. Their first son, René-Charles, was born seven years later in 2001 via in vitro fertilization, when Dion’s career was booming.
As a child, René-Charles was frequently spotted out with his parents, sporting long hair, which was often the subject of tabloid consternation and fascination. In 2007, Dion defended her son’s long locks during an appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
“It seems like you’re busy with something, ’cause you’re forgetting to cut your son’s hair,” DeGeneres said. “Look at him. He is beautiful, but look at his hair. When are you going to cut that hair?”
“Do you have a problem with that?” Dion asked DeGeneres. “Whatever I will do, I won’t please everyone,” she continued. “But something that I can reassure every mother here, the long hair… Do you know that René-Charles makes his own decisions most of the time? … When he’s ready, I’ll cut it.”
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As Celine Dion’s oldest son, he was forced to grow up fast.
René-Charles was thrust into the spotlight once again as a teenager after his father died of throat cancer in Jan. 2016. He gave a powerful eulogy at the funeral. “You left me now with enough good memories of you to share with my younger brothers,” he said. “As they grow older, without you being around, I’ll make sure to pass on what I’ve learned from you. You are a tough act to follow, but with your help, everything’s gonna be fine. Dad, I promise you here that we’re all going to live up to your standards.”
Five months after his father’s death, the 15-year-old René-Charles surprised his mother by presenting her with the 2016 Billboard Icon Award. “They said, ‘To present the award, here’s your son’ and [it] cut my heart to pieces. [It] really did,” Dion said backstage, according to People.
René-Charles followed his mother into the music industry, but definitely took his own path.
In 2018, at the age of 17, Dion’s oldest son revealed he’d been working on his own music, which he debuted on Soundcloud. But unlike Dion’s power ballads, René-Charles released rap music.
Recording under the moniker Big Tip, René-Charles’ covers of The Weeknd’s songs “Sidewalks” and “Loft Music” hit the top of Canadian SoundCloud R&B charts in 2018.
He also released three original tracks, which touched on the loss of his father. On “Catwalks,” he raps that he “ran out of tears when I was 16.”
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René-Charles released his music without his mother’s help.
René-Charles released his music all on his own. It was a true surprise to his mom, who had no idea he’d been working on it when it was released. “I played it to her for the first time. I just felt like keeping it on the low. But she loved it,” René-Charles said in a 2018 interview with The Montreal Gazette. “She was just kind of stunned at first, because she’d never heard anything from me. It was kind of a weird conversation: ‘Ma, I’m No. 1 and No. 2 on the charts right now.’ She was like: ‘Why didn’t you tell me first?’ But she’s very supportive of my passion for this.”
In January of this year, René-Charles released a new EP called CasiNo.5, this time with his mother cheering him on. “Go out there and embrace life, and remember to never stop believing in yourself, because I believe in you,” she wrote on Instagram. “Remember also that your father is always watching over you and guiding you. We love you so much.”
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