________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 17 . . . . April 24, 1998

Cover Falling Into You: The Story of Celine Dion.

Barry Grills.
Kingston, ON: Quarry Press, 1997.
205 pp., paper, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55082-189-X.

Subject Headings:
Dion, Céline.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Darleen Golke.

*** / 4


Celine Dion's career, marked by three major turning points - her meeting with Angelil when she was 12, their decision to abandon her child star persona a few years later, and her decision to break into the English-speaking music market - have all revealed that her single ambition has been to be a star, regardless of the price, and if there was a cold strategy to be applied to reaching her objective, that too was part of the means justifying the end.
On March 23, 1998, Celine Dion added yet another coup to her long list of accomplishments when the song she performed for the movie, Titanic, "My Heart Will Go On," won the Oscar for original song at the 70th Academy Awards. Although her early achievements earned Dion accolades in the French-speaking music world, Grills contends that, once Dion embraced the English-speaking market, she quickly conquered the global pop music market and joined the ranks of divas like Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Gloria Estefan. From her early roots in Charlemagne, Dion has taken "the cultural multiplicity of her own experience and applied it to her personal goals" shared with Rene Angelil. He has guided Dion's career since she was 12 as her manager, as her promoter, and finally, after a spectacular and much-publicized wedding in December of 1994, as her husband.

      With two previously published biographies of Canadian performers, Anne Murray and Alanis Morissette, Grills is a veteran of the genre. His discussion of Dion is more of an analysis of modern pop music and culture than a biography of the life of a performer. The emphasis is on the cultural factors, Dion's place in the tradition of pop divas, her impact on musical tastes, and her success. He cites extensively from interviews with acknowledged authorities like Larry LeBlanc of Billboard and music historian, Martin Melhuish, as well as from magazine and newspaper articles and reviews, and he incorporates the commentary into the text of this unauthorized biography. An authorized biography by Georges-Hebert Germain and two unauthorized French language biographies also hit the bookstores in 1997.

      Except for a chapter that discusses the lavish 1994 wedding, no tabloid-style tidbits of intimate details of Dion's life intrude on the chronicle of her phenomenal rise to stardom. Although basic biographical information is presented, the emphasis remains on analyzing her musical achievements. In fact, Grills also presents basic biographical information about the other pop divas with whom he compares Dion, about Quebec artists Ginette Reno and Rene Simard, and about Rene Angelil, her husband. In addition to Dion's "four-to-five octave voice," Grills believes what sets her apart is that she "has ignored, so far at least, any temptation to be the spoiled, pseudo-aristocratic brat that pop divas too often become. Dion possesses that vital characteristic of being down-to-earth with which audiences empathize long after they have stopped humming the most recent hit melody."

      The portrayal of Dion's achievements, including the enormously successful 1996 album, Falling Into You, should appeal to readers genuinely interested in the cultural, social, and economic implications of the music business. Grills includes 24 black and white and 16 colour illustrations. A discography, list of videos and awards, and an extensive bibliography complete the volume.


Darleen Golke is the teacher librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364