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Celine keeps promise to Madiba
Johannesburg - After a five year contract that kept her in Las Vegas, pop diva Celine Dion is keeping a promise she made to Nelson Mandela by kicking off her world tour in South Africa, she said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday. "Eish ! Why not start in South Africa ?" she said. "It was not possible and it was kind of at the end of the world.
"But two years ago Mr Mandela called to invite us and we were committed to be in Las Vegas for five years. Rene (Angelil, her husband) and I promised each other and Mr Mandela that we would start [the next tour] in South Africa.
"I am more than thrilled to be here. Jozi people are lekker," said Dion.
Dion is the highest selling female artist in South Africa of all time and her 12 month tour is named after her latest album, Taking Chances.
The Grammy award winning Canadian said that Las Vegas was something that slowed down her career, giving her stability and time to focus on her family.
’I’m coming back’
"But this [new] album means I am coming back. It’s something that I am most proud off. We took a chance and we recorded something that was a little bit different from before.
"It was almost like going back to my childhood and my influence from my brothers and sisters - its more grounded and a little bit edgier, but it is still the same Celine."
Dion recorded her first single written by her mother when she was 12.
They sent the demo tape to Angelil, a producer who would later become her husband and would mortgage his house to help pay for her first album.
Celine and her siblings sent the tape in and did not receive a reply.
"My brother called him and said, "Mr Angelil, you did not listen to the tape and we know that you did not listen to it because otherwise you would have called us."
Dion was welcomed to the press conference stage by the Soweto Gospel choir who had on Sunday night just won their second Grammy award for the second year in a row.
Her first remark was, "Eish..." She smiled and expressed her admiration for the choir’s performance.
The choir will be a supporting act for her first performance on Valentine’s Day along with pop icon Danny K and Idols winner Jody Williams.
Dion will kick off the 35-country Taking Chances world tour at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg on Valentine’s Day.
She will stay in South Africa for three weeks, perform in Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, and give an additional show in Johannesburg on March 1 before flying to Europe.
The singer has taken members of her family with her on the tour. They are her 80-year-old mother, her seven-year-old-son, and her husband and manager.
"There is no other way for me right now. I would not consider doing anything without my family. It will be very powerful to discover the world through my son’s eyes." 12/02/2008 18:02 - (SA)
Dates for South Africa shows
February 14 – Gala Dinner Concert – Coca Cola Dome
February 16,17 – Loftus Versfeld – Pretoria
February 20 – ABSA stadium – Durban
February 23, 24 – Vergelegen Wine Estate – Cape Town
26 February – EPRU Stadium - Port Elizabeth
29 February – Montecasino – Johannesburg
Tickets for Celine Dion are exclusively available from SA’s newest ticketing company Ticket Connection which makes tickets available online and from any of the over 450 Mr Price stores across the country giving it the biggest distribution footprint in South Africa of any ticketing company.
Tickets can also be purchased through their ticketing call centre on 0861 121 333.
For more information regarding the world tour visit www.celinedion.com
STAR POWER : Canadian singer Celine Dion speaks about her Taking Chances world tour during a press conference in Johannesburg. (Gerhard Uys, Sapa)