Celine Dion offers a portrait of resilience in new documentary

Celine Dion offers a portrait of resilience in new documentary

NEW YORK - Music legend Celine Dion vowed on June 17 her “passion as a performer will never disappear”, despite health struggles she says are still just a small part of her monumental story.

“I’m not dead,” the Canadian singer told AFP on the red carpet ahead of the premiere of the new documentary, I Am: Celine Dion, that focuses on her soaring career and more recent struggles with a rare neurological disorder that has hampered her ability to perform.

“When life imposes something on you, you have two options. You deal with it or you don’t want to deal with it,” Dion said, calling her decision to speak out about her condition in the documentary both “the greatest gift and the greatest responsibility”.

“It’s not going to go away,” she said of the disorder. “I’m going to have to deal with this. And I am.”

The 56-year old first disclosed in December 2022 that she had been diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, a progressive autoimmune disorder with no cure.

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Treatment can help alleviate symptoms of the condition that can cause stiff muscles in the torso, arms and legs as well as trigger severe spasms.

“The show will still go on,” the My Heart Will Go On (1997) singer promised, but said it was important to be honest about the struggle.

Irene Taylor, the Academy Award-nominated director behind the film, told AFP that Dion’s one ask was to be able to tell her own story, in her own words.

“Would that be possible? Instead of other people talking about me?“ Taylor recalls the superstar requesting.

“That was like music to my ears as a storyteller,” the director said. “She just opened up and was very authentic ... in her joy and also in her suffering.”

The documentary will begin streaming globally on June 25 on Prime Video.

Dion was forced to cancel a string of shows scheduled for 2023 and 2024, saying she was not strong enough to tour.

She made a surprise appearance earlier this year at the Grammy Awards, presenting the Album of the Year award to American singer Taylor Swift.

Dion has sold more than 250 million albums during her decades-long career. The Quebec-born star’s Courage World Tour began in 2019, and she had completed 52 shows before the Covid-19 pandemic put the remainder on hold. AFP

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