— I am insanely jealous of TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager. She got to sing a duet with Celine Dion. On air, it lasts only a few seconds. Producer’s revenge: I wanted to sing with Celine.
I’m sure Jenna herself would agree that if she were soloing on “American Idol,” she’d be voted off the island, dog, even though anyone singing with Celine sounds miraculously tuneful and on pitch. (If you missed it, check out Jenna’s interview with Celine.)
Belting it out
The duet broke out while Celine was telling us about her life as the new mom of twins Eddy and Nelson and her new show in Las Vegas, which opened last night at Caesars Palace. We also got to sit in on a mic check and a preview of the show.
At the rehearsal I sat between Jenna and Rene Angelil, Celine’s husband and manager of two decades. Rene sat near the audio board, looking calm and intense. He told me I was sitting in the very seat where Michael Jackson sat during Celine’s last run in 2003.
It's awfully impressive how Celine rehearses: no holding back, full throttle, baby, fortissimo! Singing can be exhausting. My brief singing career, which consisted of accompanying Doris Day on the “Pajama Game” original cast album (I can be carbon-dated by that remark), completely wiped me out after just side A.
Celine, on the other hand, belted it out and then worried whether a key change would disappoint the audience. Really, Celine? Quit worrying: If you sang the theme from “Titanic” klezmer-style with a reggae inflection, you’d still nail it.
Celine is minding her instrument. At least, the Celine posse is. While we were lugging in our two tons of equipment for the interview, I was chastised for leaving the doors open (albeit in a pleasant, nonconfrontational, Canadian way). Apparently we were letting out the humidity that keeps Celine’s vocal chords from drying out in the arid desert air.
Horrified that I might be the cause of a flattened B flat, I became the rabidly obsessed door monitor. Shut the door! Come in fast! The crew drew the line at slithering under the door.
The diva next door
I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that Celine sings her big hits at Caesars. In addition, there’s an Ella Fitzgerald number, a James Bond medley and Janis Ian’s “At 17,” which, I accurately predicted to Jenna, would cause every woman over the age of 40 who got dumped in high school to explode with applause. Sisterhood!
If Celine is labeled a “pop diva,” from my brief time with her, that seems to be a complete misnomer. Can you be a down-to-earth pop diva? She was lovely. She was gracious and funny and charmingly honest. She makes you feel like you’re just a bunch of chicks sitting around yakking. That is, if all the chicks had boatloads of awards and could sing absolutely anything.
Which is what I was hoping to do: Sing anything with Celine. Like Jenna did. And I will, too, the same way I always have: with my headphones on, power-walking on the running path. AND MY HEART WILL GO ON ....