Celine Dion helps launch Canadian artist on Strip
Celine Dion, left, and Veronic DiCaire speak during an interview at the Jubilee Theatre on Friday, June 28, 2013 in Las Vegas. Celine Dion is throwing her star power behind a fellow French Canadian songstress Veronic DiCaire, who is setting up shop across the street in Las Vegas. (Photo by Andrew Estey/Invision/AP)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Perched atop the performer hierarchy in Las Vegas, where she holds court in the Caesars Palace Colosseum, five-time Grammy winner Celine Dion could quite easily sit on her laurels.
But the 45-year-old mother of three is using her influence on new projects, working on a new album due out in October and co-producing the show of a fellow French Canadian songstress setting up shop across the street at Bally's.
"I'm not looking to make friends in the business because I want to do my job, I want to have a good time and go home to my family," Dion said in a recent interview with The Associated Press, sitting on stage next to a protege with whom she casually chatted in French. "But Veronic — it's a different scenario. I'm not quite sure why. I want her to be my friend. I love her. I respect her very, very much."
Veronic DiCaire — a winsome blonde from Ontario with boundless energy and just a wisp of an accent — previously opened for Dion during a 2008 tour stop in Montreal. In late June, she launched a two-month run of "Veronic Voices," in which she impersonates 50 female artists ranging from Whitney Houston to Carrie Underwood and Lady Gaga.
In a city where it's hard to stroll the sidewalk without running into a Michael Jackson or Elvis impressionist, DiCaire's struggle will be rising above the stigmatized title of impersonator — something Dion said DiCaire can do because she "becomes" her characters.
"You've seen impersonators, you've seen men doing women, and women doing men," Dion said. "Sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's so exaggerated. We've seen it all. With Veronic it's very, very different."
DiCaire has a devoted French-speaking following after living in France, but her Vegas show is her breakout into the Anglophone world. Between summoning the big voice of Amy Winehouse, mimicking the snappy stage gestures of her patroness Dion, and overdoing a Taylor Swift twang, she takes on a wide-eyed, country-girl-meets-big-city persona, at one point offering the self-deprecating quip "pardon my French" when she stumbled over her words.
If the show doesn't take off, it won't be for lack of a mentor. Dion wrote the textbook on creating a Vegas brand, filling up her 4,000-seat auditorium since she initially debuted there in 2003 and disproving doubters who wrote Sin City off as a retirement community for fading stars.