Céline Dion is staying strong.
In Behind Céline Dion’s Courage — a new short film from Apple Music about her latest album, Courage — the music icon opens up about how she learned to move on after her husband, René Angélil, died in 2016 after a years-long battle with cancer. Throughout the emotional short, Dion, 51, talks about reinventing herself as she transitioned to life as a single mom to sons René-Charles, 19, and 9-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy.
Here, Dion opens up to PEOPLE about her triumphant new album, embracing fashion and always putting her family first.
You process a lot of emotions on Courage. What did you want to say with the album?
When I receive songs from writers or producers, the ones that I choose to record are the ones that move me emotionally. When it comes to emotions, I’m no different than most people. We all feel sadness; we all live with hope; we all need courage; we all want to love and be loved. My hope is that the listeners find their own happiness, peace, comfort, strength, and whatever else they need in their lives to move forward.
In the film, you open up about finding yourself — and your voice — in music. What does that mean for you? How would you describe the place you’re at in your life right now?
I feel good these days. It’s no secret that I’ve gone through some tough times, obviously losing my husband and my brother a few years ago, and my mother very recently. Life presents challenges to us and we try to find ways to move on. Music can be a healing force, and the songs on my new album have helped me find new strength in my life… and perhaps a bit more independence, because I’m the head of the household now. I’ve got sole responsibility for my children, and you find out more things about yourself when you’re in that situation.
I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Is there a certain memory of her that you’ll always remember her by?
My mother was an amazing woman. Along with my father, she raised 14 children. We didn’t have any money growing up, but our house was rich with love and affection. She was a great musician, and she loved to sing. She wrote my very first song. She was an amazing cook. She was incredibly funny and loved to laugh. She was my hero. I miss her so much… we all do!
You also talk about wanting and needing to be okay. How have you found ways of healing from the heartbreak?
I mentioned that music to me is a way of healing, but the most important job I have is to be the best mother I can for my children. They are the biggest source of my healing.
When you’re not okay, what do you focus on for self-care?
I try to do as many good things for my body and soul as I can. First of all, I make sure to eat very healthily. Also, I’m fortunate that I can get a good night’s sleep most of the time, and I know how important this is. And one of my greatest joys, especially during the past 2-3 years is to dance. I adore ballet and improv, and I work at this almost daily. I have a trainer and a dance partner, and these activities bring me more joy than I could ever imagine.
You’ve had quite the style renaissance recently. How would you describe your style now? Is fashion a kind of armor for you?
I definitely don’t have one particular style. For me fashion is fun: It’s art, it’s expression. I love it, but I don’t take myself too seriously. Wearing different styles, different colors, allows me to play in different moods, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the designers who imagine such incredible creations for us to wear. I’m also fortunate to have two amazing stylists, Pepe Muñoz and Sydney Lopez, who have great and adventurous taste.
You’ve accomplished so much. What dreams and goals do you still have?
Number one goal: to be the best mother that I can be for my children. I want to continue my pursuit of dancing. And, I’d love to do some acting one of these days, make a movie — I think that would be fun, and I’d like to give it a shot.