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Celine Dion is ‘Taking Chances’ on new sound

The mega-star has sold more albums than any female recording artist in history.  Now, at the age of 39, she is ready to break out and give voice to her inner rocker.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Celine Dion has sold more albums than any female recording artist in history. She’s performed an elaborately staged show to five years of sold-out houses in Las Vegas. Now, at the age of 39, she tells TODAY she is ready to break out and give voice to her inner rocker.

Wearing high-heeled boots, jeans and a trench coat on Wednesday to meet TODAY’s Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira and Al Roker on Rockefeller Plaza, Dion talked about her first studio album in four years, “Taking Chances,” and the world tour she’s starting next year.

And by the way, she also wants to have another child, saying, “We’re going to be working on it.”

Dion later went inside the TODAY studios to sing three songs, including one from her new album that showed a throatier and tougher singer than she’s ever shown in a career built on sweetness and soul.

“It’s edgier,” the superstar said of the music on the album, which was released on Tuesday to critical acclaim. “I always loved that type of music. I grew up listening to Creedence, Doobie Brothers, Janis Joplin, but the composers and songwriters never proposed to me to sing that type of music.”

She wanted the TODAY crew to know that departing from the ballads for which she’s famous isn’t going into foreign territory. “It’s been in me forever,” she said of the music on “Taking Chances.” “Now, I’m singing it. I’m having such a great time.”

She said that getting back into the studio to record her album this summer was like being let out of a cage, no matter how comfortably appointed that cage has been during the five years she, her husband, Rene Angelil, and her 6½-year-old son, Rene-Charles, have lived in Las Vegas and worked at Caesars Palace.

Leaving the show next month isn’t going to be easy, she said.

“After five years, it’s going to be difficult to say goodbye,” she said, telling of how she and the cast of the show, “A New Day,” had become like family over the years. She performed in a 4,000-seat stadium designed specifically for her and sold it out every night.

“As an artist, it was a stability comfort zone every night, knowing what I have to do, and going home every day gave me stability with my family,” she said. “It was an amazing journey.”

Vieira observed that her voice sounds deeper than it did when she was rocketing to stardom nearly 20 years ago. She was a kid back then, but she had already been singing for years, having grown up as the youngest child in a musically accomplished French-Canadian family of 14.

She was performing locally live from the age of 5 and became the first artist to hit the charts in England with songs sung in French. In the United States, she became an overnight sensation when she sang the title song to the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast.”

Dion agreed with Vieira. “I sing from here,” she said, putting a hand to her stomach. “My vocal chords used to lead the way. Now I’m in charge.”

When she went back in the studio, she said, “I was like, ‘Momma’s back!’ I had a great time recording this album. It’s great to be back in the music industry.”

She said she could have taken time off after her long Vegas run, but doesn’t know how she could suddenly stop performing after five years on stage. “If I would stop the show and go home for three months, I would miss it tremendously,” she said.

“I think it’s a great thing to go on the road now,” she continued, adding that she’s taking her son and her mother with her when she leaves for South Africa in February.

“It’s going to be helping me a lot. I invited people for the last five years to my home in a way, so now it’s time to go and see them.”