Canadians were waiting in anticipation for one of their own — Joni Mitchell — to take the Grammy Awards stage on Sunday night, but it was Céline Dion that pulled out the night’s biggest surprise.
The Quebec chanteuse took to the stage to present the award for Album of the Year, looking resplendent in a white gown, sparkling statement necklace and a deep yellow overcoat.
“Thank you all,” Dion told the crowd as she appeared on stage, smiling through teary eyes. “I love you right back.”
“When I say that I’m happy to be here, I really mean it from my heart.”
She continued: “Those who have been blessed enough to be here at the Grammy Awards must never take for granted the love and joy music brings to our lives and to people around the world.”
And, noting that she was on stage to present the same award that Diana Ross and Sting presented to her 27 years ago, she called out Taylor Swift’s name as winner of Album of the Year.
About halfway through Sunday’s broadcast The Hollywood Reporter spotted Dion waiting for an elevator at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, where the Grammy Awards were held, accompanied by her stylist and a garment bag full of gowns.
Dion has largely pulled back from the public eye since she announced her diagnosis of stiff person syndrome (SPS) in late 2022.
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At the time, she shared that the disease does not allow her “to sing the way I’m used to.”
Since then, her sister has shared several devastating updates about the singer’s health, most recently telling French-language news site 7 Jours that her sister can no longer control certain body movements, but that the ultimate goal is “to return to the stage.”
“In what capacity? I don’t know,” Claudette Dion added.
The cause of SPS, an extremely rare disease, is still unknown, according to Yale Medicine, “but researchers suspect that it may be the result of an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks nerve cells in the central nervous system that control muscle movement.”
The Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation says “the most common symptoms of SPS are muscle rigidity, stiffness and spasms in the muscles of the trunk including the back and limbs.”
These can be triggered by environmental stimuli, like loud noises or emotional stress.
Dion announced last week that she’s getting set to release a documentary, titled I Am: Céline Dion, that will chronicle her first year of living with SPS.
“This last couple of years has been such a challenge for me, the journey from discovering my condition to learning how to live with and manage it, but not to let it define me,” Dion, 55, said in a statement.
“As the road to resuming my performing career continues, I have realized how much I have missed it, of being able to see my fans. During this absence, I decided I wanted to document this part of my life to help others who share this diagnosis.”
The synopsis for the doc reads: “From visiting her couture touring wardrobe and personal effects to spending time in the recording studio, the documentary captures a global megastar’s never-before-seen private life. An emotional, energetic, and poetic love letter to music, I Am: Celine Dion captures more than a year of filming as the legendary singer navigates her journey toward living an open and authentic life amidst illness.”
Amazon MGM has acquired the worldwide rights to the film, but no release date has been announced.
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