I Sang With Celine Dion at 12 Years Old…

My favorite movie back then was Titanic. It was so romantic and I kept playing and singing the songs from the movie, to the point my grandparents bought me the sound track for me. True story on how my dream became reality in 1999.

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The song I loved the most was “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion” I knew this song word for word and would sing it daily.

One day there was an announcement at school about a school talent show, and I decided to audition. I was so nervous and I told my grandpa I was going to audition to be in a school talent show. My family already knew that I love to sing and that I sang well. I tried out for the talent show and I was not picked. I felt discouraged and disappointed.

A few weeks went by and I had a vivid dream that I sang with Celine Dion in concert on stage with bright lights flashing at us and we had on black shiny bodysuits. She was smiling down at me and we sang “My Heart Will Go On” together on stage. The next morning I ran down to my grandma and told her my dream as she was washing dishes, she just smiled at me and didn’t pay me any mind. One week later my grandpa is reading the newspaper and there is an ad that says music producer is looking for a group of kids to sing with Celine Dion. My grandpa said I should audition. I was so nervous and happy at the same time. He recorded a video of me singing and sent it to Bill Jolly a music producer the one casting the kids.

One week later my grandpa got a phone call from Bill Jolly himself saying that I have been chosen to sing with Celine Dion and a choir of kids. My grandfather was jumping for joy. Out of 400 kids who auditioned in Philadelphia only 20 kids were picked and I was one of them. I couldn’t believe it. I remember realizing that I was not picked to sing at the school talent show but yet I was chosen to sing with Celine Dion herself. It was unreal.

Bill Jolly and I back stage at the First Union Center 1999

We were only kids…age ranges 8 years old to 13 years old. Meeting the kids from the choir was awesome. We each came from different backgrounds and it was a diverse group of kids. Honestly, I felt unworthy to be around such talented kids. Their voices were amazing! Bill Jolly had us sing and perform in front of the various news stations. We would sing “Lean On Me” and some of us did verses of the song on our own and then together. We were sensational. I couldn’t believe I was on the news. My life changed overnight. I was getting interviewed and got to perform and meet other kids who loved singing as much as I did.

Kids Choir with Celine Dion back stage 1999

The time has come…

We arrived at the First Union arena in Philadelphia which is now called The Wells Fargo Center and we sat backstage. They put us in a big private room to wait in before the performance. By then I was great friends with the kids, one of them was even in a commercial, and I asked to take pictures with her. I can’t remember everyone’s name since it was so long ago I just know that it was an experience I’ll never forget.

As we were playing, dancing, singing, and waiting around Bill Jolly had us rehearse the song we sang with her multiple times. We sang “Let’s Talk about Love.” Celine Dion’s assistant comes in and tells us that Celine Dion is on her way to come and meet us before the performance. We got so excited! We jumped for joy. She walked into the room, and I was so star struck I just froze she looked just like the way she looks on T.V but even more beautiful. Everyone ran over and hugged her and she was all smiling. She was like an angel. We waited for hours until it was time to go on stage and perform. As we walked into the arena security guards lifted me ensuring I don’t trip or fall while walking down the hallway and onto the stage. As I looked around I saw a sea of people and it was so dark, but lights were flashing all around me. They were cheering and yelling. When we walked onto the stage we made a circle and it was dark. All of a sudden lights flashed onto the middle of the stage and Celine Dion came up on a lift in the middle of the stage in front of us. It looked like a dream. She started to sing and it was as if she was singing to us directly and pointed at us while she sang. People were cheering and we started our verse of the song. It was unreal.

After this performance, my family greeted me outside with a bouquet. My family was so proud of me and happy that I got to experience singing with one of my favorite singers of all time. A few months later my grandfather got another call from Bill Jolly saying that Celine Dion is performing in Atlantic City and she wants us to perform with her again. By then we were a great choir and a group of kids who developed a wholesome relationship with one another. We were more confident and ready to go on this new venture.

I got to perform in Atlantic City with Celine Dion 3 times. Unfortunately, my parents were not allowed to be in the arena due to space and capacity and they were sad about it. Performing in Atlantic City was a lot more glam than performing in Philadelphia. We were at the Caesar Hotel and walked the boardwalk and took photos. Backstage I was able to see Celine Dion walk into a small room we were waiting in. I was also alongside her performers. Before getting on stage we had to make sure our mics worked properly before going on stage.

Backstage in Atlantic City, yes I had braces…

Celine Dion shook my grandfather’s hand as she walked into the room and his face lit up and she hugged me. This was the first time I got to talk to her. She said hello what’s your name? and I said it’s Ashley…then she said nice to meet you. I was so shy and nervous but I was smiling.

Showtime!

We rehearsed on stage multiple times before actually performing. People paid big bucks for a show and her assistant and Bill Jolly made sure we were ready at all times. When we walked out to the stage I stood on the left side of Celine Dion and as she was singing she put her hand on my shoulder then held my hand. I looked out into the crowd and sang my little heart out. The first thing that came to my mind was my dream, remember I dreamed that I sang with her but meeting her and singing with her outweighs the expectations of my dream.

My family greeted me with a replica of the heart of the ocean necklace like the Titanic movie as I walked out from the back stage and told me something I’ll never forget. They said you were not chosen to sing in a school talent show because God had better plans for you. It was so sweet. I got a 100 $ check for singing with her and I didn’t get to stay in contact with the kids from the choir and till this day I think about them and where they may be now.

In Atlantic City 2000

Thank you for reading this article follow me on Instagram at Ashley_M_Carino so you can see me share more details on what this experience meant for me.

Mental Health & Lifestyle writer, creator of Her_Chance_ On IG

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