Celine Dion’s Final Farewell to Rene Angelil

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“I understood that my career was in a way his masterpiece, his song, his symphony. The idea of leaving it unfinished would have hurt him terribly. I realized that if he ever left us, I would have to continue without him, for him.” — Celine Dion

With the passing of Réne Angélil last week Celine Dion not only bid farewell to the love of her life, but to the man who helped turn a young songstress from Charlemagne, Que., into one of the most famous performers on the planet.

Angélil’s own boyhood dreams were rooted in pop stardom, though his attempt to crack the music scene with his teenage group The Baronets proved fruitless. Eventually, however, he’d find that teenage celebrity, though not where he expected. In 1980, Angélil heard Celine Dion’s voice for the first time when the then-12-year-old aspiring singer sent him a demo tape. Angélil, by then a 38-year-old talent manager, was so moved that he signed her and mortgaged his home to finance her first album.

In time Angélil guided Celine through an image makeover, both physical and cultural, helping her break through to English-speaking audiences. With his guidance and her golden voice, Dion signed major record deals, climbed the U.S. record charts and established herself among the one of the most famous singers in the world. Hit single after hit single followed, from “Beauty and the Beast” to “The Power of Love” to “My Heart Will Go On.”

Their romance blossomed as well, with the couple dating in secret before announcing their relationship and eventually marrying on Dec. 17, 1994 at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. Dion and Angélil had three children: René-Charles Dion Angélil in 2001 and fraternal twins Eddy and Nelson Angelil through in vitro fertilization in 2010. Angélil remained Dion’s manager until near the end of his life, encouraging her to leave his bedside and return to performing.

Yesterday, in the same church where the couple married 22 years earlier, Dion stood by Angélil’s casket, wiping away tears while greeting and talking with mourners for hours, at one point telling People magazine that, “The support we’ve received has been such a blessing.”

Angélil will be laid to rest following his funeral, scheduled for 3pm this afternoon. Scroll through our slideshow for more images of Dion and Angélil over the years.

Dion in 1991, the same year she released her breakthrough song, “Beauty and the Beast,” from the Disney film of the same name, which went on to win both an Oscar and a Grammy Award. 

Celine and Réne on their wedding day — Dec. 17, 1994 — at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica.

Proud parents Dion and Angélil on the day of they baptized their first child, René-Charles Dion Angélil, at Notre-Dame Basilica in 2001.

Celine and Réne, flanked by their children, René-Charles and twins Eddy and Nelson, as well as Dion’s mother Thérèse Dion at Caesar’s Palace in 2011.  

Dion on stage at Caesar’s Palace last August, after she returned to her residency at the urging of Angélil.