At Sunday’s 2016 Billboard Music Awards, we saw one of the most moving, brave, and gallant performances by Celine Dion. Dion, the recipient of Billboard’s Icon Award, made her first television appearance since the death of her husband, Rene Angelil, who passed away earlier this year on January 14. Surprising Dion and presenting the award to her was her son, Rene-Charles Angelil.

The fairy tale romance between Celine and Rene is well known; the two first met in 1980 when Dion was 12 and Angelil was 38. Seven years later–when Dion turned 19–the two began dating. It was apparent to even the casual observer that the love between the two was pure and deep. Subsequently, they married in December 1994. celine and rene

In January of this year following a battle with cancer, Rene passed away at the age of 73 and if that was not enough, two days later, Dion’s brother, Daniel, passed away at the age of 59. Thus, despite the immense fortune and fame Celine Dion has amassed through a magnificent career, she has also endured significant pain in the last few months and during Sunday’s acceptance speech, the pain was apparent and real.

In making her acceptance speech, one cannot miss the emotion and anguish that must have been running through every bone of her body as Dion accepted her award while talking pause to honor her late husband. Compared to other dramatic, political and aggrandizing speeches, Dion’s words actually had meaning and they transcended music itself; they touched our hearts.

Check our Celine talking about the experience here courtesy of Entertainment Tonight:

What the Canadian crooner did in accepting her Icon Award–a much deserved accolade at that–was that she showed courage to others to continue on and to fight through the pain; indeed, the circle of life goes on. However, the message was to fight on but not to forget. Celine showed that she has not–and will not–forget her husband, Rene. The importance of her words echoed in each of us–if even just for a fleeting moment–to not lose sight of what is important in this life and it’s not record sales.

Therefore, we salute you Celine Marie Claudette Dion for putting it all out there and being as raw and real as it gets. For just one moment, all of us who have lost a close friend, family member or significant other, stood on that stage with you to remember those who have gone before us. The beauty of it was that to join Dion on this night you did not need to have even sold one record. Instead, it was your remembrance, honor, and respect that allowed you to join her on stage in Las Vegas and for that, ladies and gentlemen, Celine Dion is indeed a true icon.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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