Article: Celine Dion tells about working with David


David Foster and Celine Dion


In 2000 Celine Dion wrote a book about her life, “My Story, my dream”, which contains some interesting paragraphs regarding David Foster and their collaborations. We’ve found some excerpts on the net:

Celine and her husband Rene trying to spin her first English album:

In the afternoon, he (Rene) met with the big bosses at CBS. For them as well, he’d up the ante. He asked them to invest ten times more than had been anticipated for the English album. And he demanded as well that David Foster, the record-industry wonder boy from the United States, be the producer.

“The money’s no problem,” said the bosses at CBS. “As for Foster, Celine and you will have to find a way to approach him and get him interested.”
Foster may not have been known to the public at large, but in the world of show business, he was a huge star. Originally from British Columbia, he had made a name for himself in Los Angeles, where, in the eighties, he was already working with the biggest of the big: Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Paul McCartney. He wrote words and music for them; he arranged, produced, and conducted for artists who were making high-quality albums. “He’s the best,” Rene said. “He’s the one we need.”

But how was another story. How to approach an artist of the stature of David Foster, who was already living on planet Hollywood? “We’ll find a way.”


Celine and Rene finally hook David:

One evening, a smiling and hospitable Carol Reynolds, who was responsible for the variety shows on the English-speaking network Radio Canada, was among those who came to see me. She waited until everyone had left to come to say hello and to tell me how much she liked the show. All three of us — Rene, Carol, and I — went to a restaurant. An Italian one on the rue Saint-Denis in Montreal. Carol wanted to produce a TV show with me for English-speaking Canada. I talked to her about my album in English and how we hoped to work with David Foster.
“David? I know him well,” she told us. “I’ll be seeing him next week in Los Angeles. If you want, I’ll talk to him about you.”

If I want? And how!

Carol left with the album Incognito and a videocassette of my version of “Have a Heart” from the Juno gala. “I’m sure he’ll love what you do,” she told me. “But he’s really busy. He may not be available for months.”
Shortly after, a few days before my twentieth birthday, we were doing a sound test at the Saint-Denis Theater when I saw Rene com­ing toward me, almost at a run. He came up to me and whispered in my ear: “I just spoke to David Foster. He listened to Incognito. You know what he told me? That you have everything it takes to get into the U.S. market. Listen! He said that you have ‘that little something extra’ that makes great stars. And that he wants to work with us.”


“Not until the fall.”

“But that’s six months away.”

“The time will fly, believe me.”


David discovers Celine and accept to work with her:

At the very beginning of summer, David Foster told Rene that he’d be ready to work with us soon, but first he wanted to see me perform live. A week after Eurovision, I’d gone back to Europe for a quick tour. Ten cities in ten days. It was insane. Press conferences, interviews, TV, radio, some fabulous encounters, such as meeting Elton John in Munich, and a big show during the Cannes Film Festival with Julia Migenes-Johnson and Michel Legrand. When I returned to Quebec, I continued the Incognito tour, and the show couldn’t have been in better shape. Not only were the musicians in great form, but I was in good voice as well.

But as luck would have it, at the time that David was passing through Quebec, the only performing I was doing was a show for a group of vacationers, under a tent at Sainte-Agathe in the Lauren-tides. Rene tried really hard to make him put off his trip.

“In two weeks, Celine will be performing at the most important theater in Montreal,” he said. “Under ideal conditions.”
David decided not to put off the trip. He came to the show with his new wife, Linda Thompson, who had been involved with Elvis Presley. It was a really hot day. And it was pouring. The air inside the tent was humid, suffocating. The sound was horrible. At times, the rain hammered so loudly on the roof that it was almost impossible to hear the music.

Nevertheless, I felt good, confident, and cool, despite the oppres­sive heat. The songs came off well. During the show, I introduced David Foster by saying that he was the greatest record-album pro­ducer in the world and that he’d worked with the most brilliant American singing stars. The audience at Sainte-Agathe, who obvi­ously had never heard of him, gave him a polite standing ovation, something to which dear David is not impervious.
After the show, the four of us went to a restaurant in the Lauren-tides. David didn’t compliment my performance at all — that’s not his style. He has other ways of showing his enthusiasm or approval.

“Count me in,” he told us. “Find yourself some songs and let me know.”

With Vito Luprano, the artistic director of CBS, which had now become Sony, Rene began sorting through the dozens of songs we’d collected during the past months.
After the holidays, when the Incognito tour was over, Rene and I went to California. We settled into a little inn on Malibu Beach, not far from where David lived. At the time, he was the only person we knew in Los Angeles.
Years later, David told me that what he found most charming about us was how happy, how joyous we were. When he came to the inn with Linda, he’d find us in the parking lot playing basketball or on the nearby beach, where we took long walks. Sometimes he played or walked with us.


“Unison” recording sessions:

During the entire year when we were recording Unison, he (Rene) was worried and preoccupied, always ready to rethink every­thing. Some days he felt like changing everything, beginning all over again, trying something else, changing the tempo, brass instead of strings, two pianos here, no guitar there, or a com­pletely new song.
He and David Foster understood each other perfectly. Foster was detail-oriented too, a stickler, never completely satisfied.

With him­self, with the musicians, or with me. To hear him, you could always do better. You could always start all over again. And that’s often what we did.

Sony’s strategists were really excited that we were working with David, but to get a wider buying audience, they wanted me to work with other producers and composers as well, in other studios and cities. That was fine with me. With Rene too; he’d always been obsessed with the idea of enlarging my audience and varying my repertoire. Even David thought it was a good idea.

Everyone decided that I would go first to New York to work with Andy Goldmark, then to London to work with Christopher Neil.


About “The Colour of My Love”:

By next fall and winter, we’d begin recording my third album in English. He’d already made an initial selection of songs. He had some demos for me to hear, including one with words and music by David Foster that delighted him, called “The Colour of My Love.”

“Everyone wanted that song,” he told me. “Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, and Natalie Cole. But David wanted to give it to you — actually, to both of us — because it’s truly a love song and he knows we’re in love.”


Novem­ber 8, 1993, will always be etched in my memory as one of the best days of my life. This was the day my third English album, The Colour of My Love, was released in the United States. I had a com­pletely new look; for the first time, I had very short hair. But that isn’t the reason this day was so memorable. Its because it marked the moment when I told the whole world that Rene Angelil and I were going to be married.


On the evening of my new album’s release, I did several of its songs for the audience at the Metropolis. During the applause that followed “The Colour of My Love,” Rene came onstage and took me in his arms. I slid my hand behind his head, drew it toward me, and drank a tear that was running down his cheek. Then I kissed him on the mouth, in front of two thousand people and all the televisioncameras.
There were shouts and applause. On the giant screen, out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a close-up of our kiss.

On the giant screen, while Celine sang, there were David and Linda too, here’s the video of that performance:

[coolplayer width=”360″ height=”295″ autoplay=”0″ loop=”0″ charset=”utf-8″ download=”0″ mediatype=””]
Celine Dion – The Colour of My Love (live)


About “All by myself” (from “Falling into you” album)

David Foster, who’d watched our meeting and our first rehearsal, came onstage to ask the musicians if they wanted to come to the stu­dio the following week; I was going to record Eric Carmen’s hit “All by Myself.” It was at the Record Plant, in Los Angeles. The day before, David told me he’d changed the orchestrations in the last part of the song. I’d have to sing a little higher, actually up to an F, which is almost at the limit of my range. But even worse, he wanted me to hold that note for several measures. In all honesty, I was dying from fear. I knew I couldn’t do more than two takes without jeopardizing my voice. David saw my fear.

“If you can’t manage to do it, it’s no big deal,” David told me. “We’ll just go back to the original arrangement.” All right; now that was an insult. On the day of the recording, Rene and I had an argument. About nothing. We always squabble over insignificant things and then can’t remember what they were. Even so, I sometimes sulk for a few hours, sometimes for a few days. Rene, more rarely. He doesn’t like to be cold to me. And he always tries to cheer me up, to make me laugh. That day, he wanted to sulk seriously and didn’t go with me to the studio. So I left all alone, “all by myself,” for the Record Plant, where I found David Foster cold, condescending, and almost contemptu­ous; and he didn’t even ask me why Rene wasn’t with me.

I’d tried each key already and had done my voice and warm-up exercises. While the technicians finished putting in the orchestra tracks, I paced around the studio. I think David purposely delayed starting, as if he wanted to unsettle me even more. At one point the brute came near me and said, half in earnest and half in jest: “I can tell you’re worried; but don’t worry about that fuss over the F. If you can’t handle it, I told you, we’ll find a solution. I can always ask Whitney to do it.”

Whitney Houston was recording that day in the adjoining studio.

“I know she can reach that F and hold it as long as necessary,” David made a point of adding.
I didn’t say a word. I knew it was a kind of game. And I decided to play it all the way. I went back into the studio. I sang “All by Myself” with all my strength, all my soul, and all my rage. When it came time to climb to that famous F, I pushed my voice to the maxi­mum, to the point of hurting it, and held the note for a very long time. When I recovered from this, the musicians on the other side of the bay window got up to applaud me.
I left without saying goodbye to David Foster. Without even ask­ing the technicians if everything was okay.


About “The Power of the Dream” (Atlanta Olympic Games)

There was a lot of music in Atlanta and some magnificent voices. The chorus that was accompanying me was one of the most beautiful I’d ever heard. Georgia is gospel-music country, the country of Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. So it was not by chance that the song David Foster wrote for the occasion took up this same theme in its very title—”The Power of the Dream.”

When I performed it, early on in the evening, during the opening ceremonies, I knew I was singing to the largest audience ever assem­bled. I’d been told that four billion people were watching through­out the world.
As soon as I began to sing, my stage fright went away, and I felt good. For several days, I lived in the euphoric aftermath of that incredible experience. But I also felt enormous fatigue and moments when I felt I couldn’t catch my breath. I was punchy, like a boxer, even when he wins a hard fight.



About “Tell Him” (duet with Barbra Streisand, from “Let’s talk about love”)

I’d always dreamed of singing with Barbra Streisand, but I’d also always been afraid to. She’d been one of my idols, and it’s dangerous to get too close to your idols. It takes practically nothing to destroy your image of them. And just as little to crush you.

The idea of our collaboration began the year before, during the Oscars. I’d sung “I Finally Found Someone.” This was a song Barbra had recorded, along with Brian Adams, for a film she’d directed, pro­duced, and starred in, The Mirror Has Two Faces.
Actually, Natalie Cole was supposed to perform the song for the show, but a bad cold had kept her in Montreal. Twenty-four hours before the show, I’d been asked to replace her. I sang Barbra’s song in addition to my own—”Because You Loved Me,” from the film Up Close and Personal. No one had ever performed two of the nominated songs at the awards before.
Rene was thrilled. Nothing is more exciting, especially in show business, than doing what no one else ever has. But preparing a new song in twenty-four hours, singing twice at the Oscars, and doing it in front of Barbra Streisand was terrifying. It turned out, however, that Streisand wasn’t in the auditorium when I sang her song. During a commercial break, she’d gone to the ladies’ room and had found that the doors were locked when she attempted to return to her seat; no one’s allowed to enter the audito­rium while the show is in progress. Rene was really disappointed. I was upset, of course, but not to the point of ruining the great plea­sure I’d just experienced.

The media tried to make a story out of Barbra snubbing me for singing her song. But it absolutely wasn’t true. Two days later, I received an enormous bouquet of flowers with a note in Barbra’s hand. She said that she’d seen the recording of the show, and thought I’d sung “beautifully,” that I was an “incredible singer,” and that she was sorry she wasn’t in the room. “Next time, let’s do one together,” she wrote.

Rene kept her note in his wallet for months. Every time he had a chance, he read it to friends and journalists. He quickly contacted Marty Erlichman, Barbra’s agent, and asked David Foster to write a song for us. Then he waited for a sign from Streisand or her agent.
David Foster was the one who finally created the link between the two of us by proposing a song he’d written called “Tell Him,” about an older woman giving romantic advice to a younger one.

Barbra sang her part in Los Angeles, and a few days later in New York, I added my voice to hers. One evening, after the arrangers and technicians had mixed the song, we listened to it together, Barbra at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, and I at the Hit Factory in New York. When it was over, silence fell over the studio. We all were watching the telephone, which took an eternity to ring. David answered it.

“It’s for you, Celine.”

It was Barbra calling to say how much she liked my interpretation.

More parts here

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