Celine Dion broke down as she accepted her Billboard Icon award, presented by her son Rene Charles.
The My Heart Will Go On star is still reeling over the loss of her husband of 21 years, Rene Angelil, to throat cancer in January, and couldn’t help weeping as she accepted her trophy at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night in Las Vegas.
Singer Seal introduced Celine to the stage and then in a surprise twist said her 15-year-old son Rene Charles would present her award, in one of the most touching moments of the three-hour show.
Celine started to tear up as soon as Rene, who was sporting sideburns and slicked back hair, appeared on stage.
As he handed her the trophy he gave his mother a reassuring pat on the back, but looked slightly uneasy as Celine’s tears started to flow.
She addressed the crowd, saying: ‘I’m sorry for crying. I want to be so strong for my family and my kids. I didn’t expect… I’m so sorry.’
Turning to Rene, she said: ‘I didn’t want to cry in front of you,’ before clasping his hand tight and asking him twice ‘do you mind just standing next to me?’ to which he replied, ‘sure, yeah.’
Celine then took a big breath and continued her emotional speech.
She said: ‘This is such an honour of course. You know music has been my passion since before I can almost remember. So many people have helped me to get where I am today. I cannot name them all, but I hope they will surely recognise themselves. Most especially, I want to thank the fans for travelling through music with me through good and bad times, everyone at Sony music, the songwriters musicians and management, my friends all who believe in me.
‘My family, my mother - who wrote my first song - my children Rene Charles, Nelson and Eddy and most importantly my beloved husband who will continue to watch over me from up above.
‘Thank you Billboard Music Awards for honouring me. Rene this one is for you, the show must go on.’
Her final remark referenced the Queen track The Show Must Go On, which she also gave an emotional performance of at the event. Celine has adopted the song into her live set as a tribute and a promise to her late husband. The song is a particularly poignant composition, released around a month before the passing of its writer and original singer, Freddie Mercury, from complications related to AIDS in 1991.
Celine has described Rene as the ‘only boyfriend’ she had ever had. He had started out as her manager, but their relationship later blossomed into romance.
As well as Rene Charles the couple have five-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy together.