Language is always an interesting art of communication. Differences in ounce of pronunciation and enunciation yet sometimes, the words converge to the same deep ONE meaning. I am always fascinated and full of respect with people who can converse more than one language. The more, the better; and it shows how globalize the person is! As a Malaysian living in a multiracial country, I can converse in Malay Language and in English; BUT it’s too bad for me that I don’t know other languages – well, if you don’t count the basic or the little bit of “here & there” in Cantonese or Spanish that I picked up. Now, that is the reason why I am so much in awe with people who can speak other languages apart from their mother tongues – especially when one was initially crawling to learn the language and even teased by others before they knew how to use the language!
Celine Dion has always been a great chanteuse and I love her because her songs always are energetic, full of spirit and piercing through the heart (for me). She has been touted as one of the best-selling female artiste all time; performed in the Opening Ceremony of 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics Games via the song “The Power of The Dream”; and has been performing in the Oscars for 6 times! (a record unbeatable by others as the most heard voice in the Oscar history); you can verified this from http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2011/02/16/celine_dion_to_perform_at_the_oscars_f ; and I think she sang a lot of Hollywood theme songs in comparison to other artistes put together! The theme songs are such as :
- “Beauty & The Beast” (duet with Peabo Bryson) – from the animated feature “Beauty & The Beast” (1991)
- “When I Fall In Love” ( a cover-version of Nat King Cole’s; duet with Clive Griffin” – from movie “Sleepless In Seattle” (1993)
- “Because You Loved Me” – from the movie “Up Close & Personal (1996)
- “My Heart Will Go On” – from the movie “Titanic” (1997)
- “The Prayer” – from the animated feature “Quest For Camelot” (1999)
- “When You Look At Me” – from the movie “Bicentennial Man” (1999)
- “I am Alive” – from the movie Stuart Little 2 (2002)
Academy Awards 1992 – “Beauty & The Beast” (from the same-titled movie).
Academy Awards 1996 – “Because You Loved Me” (from ‘Up Close & Personal’).
Academy Awards 1998 – “My Heart Will Go On” (from the movie ‘Titanic’).
Academy Awards 1999 – “The Prayer” (from the movie ‘Quest For Camelot’).
But what I want to share is not about her stardom but about her determination in learning English; despite initially she was ridiculed and criticized by people who were skeptical with her. I admire her determination and the inner strength! I guess I am drawn to people who have inner-strength, a lot.
Born in Quebec, Canada (which is a French-speaking region in Canada), Celine rarely speaks English. Her mother-tongue is French. She was born in this big family and the youngest of 14 siblings! Her story was like a fairy tale but this one came with a hard effort and work. When she was 13 years old, her then-manager-and-now-the-husband Renee Angelil mortgaged his house to produce Celine’s first French album and it was a hit back in Quebec. She was a star in Quebec. But American market was still far from her reach. She still had a lot of things to do. The manager, Renee Angelil was confident with Celine’s talents but he was unsure that Celine’s image and poor English will be much help to penetrate the American market although at that time Celine had already won the Yamaha World Popular Song festival (1982) and Eurovision Song Contest (1988).
Celine with her beloved niece, Karine who died due to cystic fibrosis. She remained the patron of the organisation and always dedicate her albums to her niece (you can read at the back cover; I know because I saw that as I am her avid fan ever since I was in primary school).
When she was 18 years old, Celine stepped back from the spotlight and took English classes intensively with Ecole Berlitz, a renowned education institution and she learned very hard because she wanted to achieve her dreams. She also did some dental surgery to repair her uneven teeth for her image outlook (talked about the extra-miles she would do to crystallize and to prepare for her dream!)
Marrying Renee Angelil who was her manager; since she was 12 years old. Renee Angelil mortgaged his house just to fund Celine’s first French album! Talk about real love.
Now, 2 years later, she came back with her first English album called “Unison” and she was touring the America and appeared in various talk shows, confidently speaking English! I have to say I am so amazed with her; seeing her first English interview and then the ones where she promoted “Unison” with the newly-polished English…. it’s just amazing! The idea of conquering the impossible just to achieve your dream and not making it as a barrier is really inspiring for me, and I look up to that! She refused to bow to criticism and foul-mouths that used to ridicule her for her big dream of becoming an international star – and there she proved them wrong!
The Dion’s big family.
I love people who work hard in their lives and they inspire me. To be able to face the challenges in life and savour success is always something that are really endearing and inspiring for me as a person. The lesson I learned from Celine Dion’s life is that never bow to foul-mouths or slandering or criticism. Ignore and fight them back with victory, that’s what I say. And as icing to the cake, I admire the way Celine Dion is carrying herself with grace and no-diva-shenanigans. If you see her interviews and documentaries, she exudes genuine and sincerity. It’s her passion in her work that really carries her forward.
Amazing transition from the gawky to the goddess. But it ain’t easy.
Apart from Celine, there were also some of the artistes that fought against the odds – proving people wrong when they were besmirched for saying out their dreams; crossing boundaries of languages! They learned to speak and sing in other languages when initially people thought they couldn’t do it. For example, the Taiwanese heartthrob Teresa Teng had sung in many languages such as chinese, japanese, malay-indo and many more; she was epitome of The Great Asia and was very popular due to her ability to sing in various languages! Apart from that, Malaysia also had its very own Dato’ Shake (though I am not a fan) who make it big in France – belting out French songs and Aishah who make it big in New Zealand with her The Fan Club group!
Teresa Teng, the darling of Chinese Diaspora around the world. Her iconic song was “The Moon Represents My Heart” (Yue Liang Dai Bio Wo De Xin).
Datuk Shake, a Malaysian who make it big in France in the 70’s hit “You Know I Love You”; apart from the now Indonesian Anggun.
Aishah & The Fan Club who make it big in New Zealand – Courtesy of http://sezali1970.multiply.com/journal/item/112/AISHAH-THE-FAN-CLUB
For actors, I would say that I am in awe with Zhang Ziyi who didn’t know English when the Ang Lee directed-film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” hit America but bounced back 4 years later when she appeared in “Memoirs Of A Geisha”, she could speak English! And the same with Spanish actors like Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz & Salma Hayek! All of them defied the odds; conquering and mastering foreign language to achieve the dreams they had!
Zhang Ziyi – From China.
Antonio Banderas – from Spain.
Penelope Cruz – from Spain.
Salma Hayek – from Mexico.
Although I have been learning English for almost 10 years since primary and secondary schools; I have to say I have yet to really 100% master the language and I never will say learning English is easy because for me it’s hard! I just don’t know how I have the ability to use it; perhaps due to my artistic passion? I also have the ambition of learning other languages such as Arabic (Yes!) and perfecting my already-rusted Spanish and Cantonese! I shall do it, soon, Insya ALLAH. Language is an artistic possession, for me. That what bonds me to the world; that what really bridge me out from the cocoon of a Middle Class environment. That what makes me a citizen of the world.
Celine’s first English interview. She struggled to speak English here as she didn’t know how to speak English.
“Deep within each heart
There lies a magic spark
That lights the fire of our imagination
And since the dawn of man
The strength of just “I can”
Has brought together people of all nations”
10 years later, Celine’s LIVE performance (you can hear her breath in the song!) at the Opening Ceremony of 1996 Atlanta Olympics Games via the song specially composed for the game – “The Power Of The Dream.”!