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Celine Dion: Live Onstage–Through The Eyes Of The World

Maximum Performance

Anyone who's seen a Celine Dion show in the last eight years has heard her perform her worldwide 2002 hit "I'm Alive," as seen in this brand new Maximum Performance exclusive. "It's a song that's been traveling with me from one show to another ever since it was proposed to me," she says. "Every time I perform it, it doesn't age." The uplifting theme strikes a chord with Dion and her audience, naturally: "Positive messages, like that feeling that you can move mountains, are just wonderful." But there's one other slightly less obvious reason why "I'm Alive" is an irreplaceable part of her concert repertoire: "I don't have a lot of other uptempo songs on top of that," she admits.

Indeed, Dion doesn't have a lot of other tracks that have actually made the dance charts--as a remix of this track did just last year. But somehow that hasn't been a huge hamper on her career. And if it's uptempo attitude you want, pop music's all-time ballads queen has that to spare, in person and in a couple of new releases that capture her quiet elegance and can-do Canadian spunk. Dion has a new live CD and DVD, titled Taking Chances World Tour: The Concert, which is the source of this Maximum Performance video of "I'm Alive." Meanwhile, there's a second tour-themed DVD also coming out that same day, May 11. That simultaneous release is Through The Eyes Of The World, a documentary film about her 2009 tour, stretched out from a shorter version that played briefly in theaters earlier this year to a three-hour running time. Speaking of "maximum," May is truly Max-Out Month for Dion devotees.

In an interview with Yahoo! Music, Dion explained the impetus behind Through The Eyes Of The World, which hadn't been conceived as a theatrical or even home video release. "Originally we were supposed to do this just for us," she said. "We were not there to be actors or to create movie magic. That was not the point. It was just to bring back memories for us to relive forever. Who knows if I'll tour again?" Her entire 2009 tour was conceived and booked around the idea that she would show her family the hot spots of the globe in the gaps between shows. "My son will not be 7 and 8 again. My mom is 83 years old now. We don't know what time is holding for us. Time is precious. We don't want to keep pushing and postponing everything." Dion invited a film crew along to capture not just performance footage but personal moments along the tour route, from meeting Nelson Mandela to visiting concentration camps in Germany to her son losing a tooth and being visited by a Chinese tooth fairy.

When they reviewed the footage after the tour was over, it went from home movie to movie-movie, to "give the fans a VIP pass. I feel like they can just travel with me on the plane. Because I'm sure that some of them who are really big fans, who wait at the airport and sleep outside of a hotel, must wonder, how is it to see her with no makeup? Or, how is it when she's really canceling a show? Is she going out of her mind? How is it to travel with her? How is it to go shopping with them? And it was just a great opportunity for me as an artist to show them, to share that with them. And I also have that in my personal library at home for me to look at as many times as I want."

She felt no compunctions about being trailed by a film crew, or sharing the results. "I'm pretty sure that the fact that I've been talking about my private life all the time has been been helping me to deliver my songs. And I think the reason that people are really interested in my songs is that they know me well and know that I go through things that they go through. I feel like I have a bond with them beyond songs, and it makes me feel that I can deliver my job better, knowing that they know about my life. It's a choice. I mean, you can be an artist that keeps everything very private, which is great. But I always had a tendency naturally to tell everything about my very private life. When I go on stage, I feel like I know them, they know me. Forget the songs for a moment. I start the show, I say hello, and I feel like they've been with me and I've been with them. That's why I decided to just go on and share even more. And it doesn't feel awkward for me. Because I don't have any secrets as a mom, as a daughter, as a wife. We're normal people in an extraordinary life."

Surprisingly, perhaps, Dion admits that she used to approach music as more of a duty than a joy. "Starting so young as an artist at 12 years old," she tells Yahoo!, "I was focused on my job, and my vocal cords were kind of leading the way, and I was there to serve the music the best possible." Then personal developments made it feel less like a professional inevitability and more of a choice. "I became a mother, and then my life changed totally. Then I was the leader of my life, and being a mom was the biggest responsibility and the most amazing reward, and the most important job that I will ever have in my life. Suddenly singing started to be very, very different for me. It became fun, pleasant, and just a way of expression, not a job. Not something that I have to do, but that I wanted to do."

Last year's trip around the globe was her first concert trek since the late '90s--not counting her long-running residency at Caesars Palace, which redefined the very concept of "touring" for superstars who can afford to be stationary. "After five years in Vegas, it was not the perfect timing for me to go on tour, back to back. Couldn't I just take a break? But at the same time, with my mom, who just turned 83, and my son, just before he starts normal private school with other friends and children, it was the greatest timing. Because if I postpone it, who knows if my mother will be alive? Once I put my son in school, he's gonna love it so much that I don't want to take him away from it again. I thought it was a great family adventure, for my son to see the world, and for my mom, who raised 14 children and never really saw anything. She just put all of her dreams aside for us, and is a very strong hero for the whole family. I didn't want to postpone it. So I said, 'I'm probably too tired, but I'm going to be fulfilled with love and strength when I undertake this experience the right way.' So when I stopped Vegas, I had just finished five years, and not even a week after, we were in rehearsals again with a brand new show. Then we went on tour for a little bit more than a year. And I don't regret it."

Dion isn't sure if she'll ever tour again, but does guarantee she won't be going out any time this year or next. But "we're going back to Vegas next year, starting at the end of March. And I'm looking forward to the stability again, to be honest with you. And that will also be a brand new show, something totally different. Why do they want me to go to Vegas again? I just did five years! That must be enough--I guess! I don't know. And then it's like, 'We want you back.' I have to call it a perfect career. Knowing that you're wanted and the crowds that are going there, it's definitely the people that grew up with me, and they're 40 years old as well. And they can travel and they can afford to get some shoes and buy the record and a T-shirt and all that."

But her next stint in the showroom that Caesars built for her in the desert will be on-again, off-again. "My son loves going to school. He's succeeding as a little man right now, and it's grandiose to see. It makes me feel safe to see that he's succeeding and looking forward to going to school every day. So when I start Vegas again, the performances will be in the months of school that he has off. When he's got spring break, we're going to Vegas and I'm doing shows, and during the holidays and the beginning of the year [at the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012]. And he's going to miss maybe six to seven weeks total during the year. During those weeks he's going to go to school via Skype, which is wonderful. He's tried it already, and he loves it."

Before then, she'll be recording two new albums, in English and French. "We're just starting to listen to songs now, so I can't even tell you what it's going to be. I'm not going to record a country album or a heavy metal album, that's for sure. Though I love both of them, actually," she hastens to add.

Her last album, Taking Chances, lived up to its title, at least a little, by picking more contemporary-sounding songwriters, emphrasizing her lower range, and generally taking her closer to Brandi Carlisle than Caruso. It was no radical reinvention, and "maybe for others it would have been too subtle, but for me it was stretching a lot. It was okay. It was kind of a big move for us. Some of the songs on there are very, very--for me--edgy and different. I'm glad I did it, and I enjoyed doing that album. It's nice sometimes to put on a pair of jeans instead of a nightgown. But going back to yourself, to be true to yourself, feels more natural, actually."

So expect the next album to be--figuratively speaking--more of a nightgown album. Or "maybe a mix of both" her classic balladic style and the Taking Chances approach. "But definitely not something out of this world for me. I don't think people should expect something different again. I'm not 28, and I'm not gonna be turning 31. I turned 42. I feel like cruising. I love roller coasters and Disney World, but... Aerosmith is Aerosmith and I enjoy watching and listening to them and 'riding' them, but I'm not going to be allowing myself right now to go wild. I just want to cruise. I've seen so much beauty, and I'm such at a place right now where I don't need to prove myself. I just need to relax and just enjoy the ride. And hopefully we find beautiful, beautiful songs, like I always had in my career. And hopefully [songwriters] will want to write very beautiful things, for people to fall in love to and get married to and just have wonderful times. I think there will always be a place for ballads and beautiful songs. Hopefully we'll find those great songs again."

If she were arriving on the scene today, could she possibly hope to build up to anywhere near the same kind of career she's enjoying now? That one's a no-brainer. "I have to say that I feel a lot for the new artists coming up. If you want to be played, if you want to have success, you have to do the hip-hop thing and all that. A lot of wonderful people do that perfectly. The kind of career that I have and the type of music I sing, I don't think I would have a chance today. So I am even more fortunate and appreciative of the fact that I started many years ago. I think my career started exactly when there was a chance for me in the contemporary music. I had the best years. I sold so many records, and people were buying records. It was just before the big crash. It's been tough for the artists. I'm glad a lot of them are finding their path through this, and a lot of them suffered. You can't just say 'Okay, I'm going to change my style, then.' That's so sad. If they think they can go through it and not go crazy and be happy and function and express themselves through changing their styles here and there, then fine. But I know for sure that, for me, it would have been.... Not that I can't do other things.

"But singing my type of repertoire today still works for me. I'm knocking on wood right now. It's because I'm an artist that's been established for so long. People are still relating to 'Because You Loved Me' and the Titanic and Beauty and the Beast themes and all those classic songs. I think there will always be a place for ballads and love songs, obviously. I'm definitely not a hip-hop singer and performer, although I enjoy watching them tremendously and I'm glad they're doing that part. I'm still very happy that I can still do mine, and that my fans are still making me still do it. I guess they're still interested, so I'm amazed. As long as I can express myself, if they want to hear and be with me, then I'm more than appreciative."

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