Céline Dion keeps her late husband René Angélil close at hand whenever she performs on stage.
The “My Heart Will Go On” crooner lost her music producer husband in early January 2016 after a lengthy battle with throat cancer. Angélil — with whom Dion shared sons René-Charles Angélil, 17, and twins Eddy and Nelson Angélil, 7 — died two days before his 74th birthday and the death of Dion’s brother, Daniel Dion. As Dion’s longtime music manager, Angélil had always had a role in her life personally and professionally, and since his death, she revealed that her “husband’s hand” is the first one she shakes before and after every performance.
The music legend has a bronze replica of Angélil’s hand that she brings along to every one of her performances. With two Las Vegas concert residencies (which her husband helped secure) that combined have spanned well over a decade and counting, she’s had many performances with his hand in hers since his passing. Dion put her residency on hold during her husband’s bout with cancer, but it was Angélil’s constant support even through his illness that quickly led Dion back to the stage.
A month before Angélil’s death, the longtime couple celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary.
“My husband wanted me to go back onstage before he passed, that’s what he wanted the most. So I went back onstage while he was still alive; he wanted to make sure I could keep going,” Dion said. “So I did prove to him yes, I could keep going. I told him I’ve got the kids and that he’s got to trust me, he’s got to relax.”
She continued, “He taught me so much. He did a great job; what he had been giving to me all his life and all my life will always be with me. He gave me his all. He mortgaged his house to pay for my first album. I guess before he left he wanted to make sure I was fine. I’m trying to prove to him every day I’m fine. Our kids are growing, we feel strong. We’re good.”
Since his death, Dion has been well supported by celebrities and family alike. Pop superstar Pink wrote a song for her about healing after Angélil’s death: “Recovering” is a major part of her residency. And, of course, her three sons have been a source of constant support encouragement.
“Now it is definitely too soon for me. I am definitely in love with [Angélil], married to him,” she said. “He’s the love of my life. It’s very difficult for me to see myself with another person.”