The end of 2017 was marked by the expanded editions of Troy (2CD) and Titanic (4CD). After the three interviews with James Horner, who plunged us into the heart of the score composed for James Cameron’s film, we publish the words of Titanic’s two voices: Sissel and Céline Dion.
DtD) Dear Sissel, could you first explain to our subscribers your musical background, your career in Norway ?
SK) I’d been singing in choirs. That's the only musical background I have. I sang in a children choir. That was a choir that sang all kinds of music. I started there when I was about nine. And as I grew older, I started singing in more than one choir, because I loved singing, so when I was 16 I recorded my first album. And then I started travelling on my own.
DtD) And after that ?
SK) Well, it was like a snowball, my career grew bigger and bigger. I was still at school, I finished my year at college because that was important for me, I went to a college of economics, I didn't want to have any… I wanted my music, my voice, my singing, to be my hobby, and it was important for me to be with other young people who had other interests than music. Because then there would be no competition, and we could have fun with the music as I wanted to. So when we had time between our classes at school, we would sing, we would have a guitar, we would sing in class and just have fun with music, so that was very nice. So after I turned 16 I made five albums, and I was lucky to be in Albertville in 1992, for the closing ceremony, and representing Norway at Lillehammer. I was sitting on top of an iceberg, singing. And Jon Gabarik saw me, that was wonderful. That was the first time I had sung in France, and the only time.
DtD) The only time ?
SK) Yeah, I had never sung in France.
DtD) Can you explain your phenomenal success in Scandinavia ? Because you were singing in Norwegian, or… What was the explanation, if any ?
SK) Well, I don’t know… I don’t think… When my first album was released, that was in '86, for the time it was like, the record was perfect for the time. I didn't know that small record company that represented me, I just did an album that was suitable for me. I was 16, and it was the music that I liked. And I guess that became a hit because people wanted that kind of music. It's hard for me to explain because things happened, they just happened for me.
DtD) It just happened, right… Which language do you prefer: English or Norwegian ?
SK) It’s always best to sing in your native tongue. Because there is something in the phonetics, and there is something in the understanding of the language, its depth, you know, it's a deeper feeling when you sing in your own language. You're going deeper into the language. I don't mind singing in English, but I need more time to… The songs… It takes longer time to get the words under my skin. I can get the singing and the meaning of the song, but phonetically, even though I know that my pronunciation is good, I know, for my own sake, I need more time.
DtD) When DtD met Mr James Horner, he talked to us about your last album, Innerst I Slejen.
SK) Yes, Deepest Within My Soul in English translation.
DtD) That’s right. He said he always preferred the native language of the singer. Do you understand what James Horner meant by that, when he listened to the Norwegian language ?
SK) Oh, yes, I understand that very well. It is because when you sing in your own language, you are more confident, the language and you are one, as it is your own language, it is the language that you have inside of you. And it takes time to get used to another language and sing that other language, like the melody, like the meaning of the song, the song has to become a part of you, the language also has to become a part of you. And also, if you sing a song that is written in Norwegian, it's important that you sing it in Norwegian. I think so. The translation could be good, but if you compare the song in Norwegian or in English, the Norwegian one will be better… I think so… If I was going to sing it. All the songs on that album are sung in their native tongues. So there is a song from the Faeroe Islands, and I sing it in the Faeroe Islands language. And the Danish song I sing in Danish, the Swedish in Swedish. And there is a song in Icelandic, so I sing it in Icelandic and Norwegian because we have a Norwegian. I first learned the Norwegian lyrics for that song because it's an old song, and then it turned out to be an Icelandic song, and then I said, well, I want to sing at least one verse in Icelandic. So that people could hear how this song originally is. So I’m very much into that, so I understand James Homer perfectly.
DtD) On INNERST I SLEJEN, there is a particular photograph of you on the back cover. You have a black dress, and you seem to be looking at the sea. It's very beautiful. There is white, like the snow, and you are totally in black, like a contrast. Tell us about it.
SK) This picture was taken in the South of Denmark. They have something… The white thing, or the kind of yellow sand background, that's a mountain, it's MON they call it. and it was taken in February and it was freezing cold, that's why I'm holding it around myself, and I just felt that the atmosphere was perfect for the album. The album was about longing, it's all from the coastal land around Scandinavia, all the songs are Scandinavian, and they're about longing for another love, or longing for Heaven and God, and it was natural for me to stand and look out over the ocean because some of the songs I could record in that position, standing there by the ocean, and just looking out… I mean, It had the atmosphere of the songs.
DtD) Can you tell us about your trip from Norway and Denmark to Warren G and Prince Igor ? It's another world !
SK) Yeah. And that's why I wanted to do the job.
DtD) Very eclectic.
SK) I was in New York and the producer Klaus Voelker – I’m so terrible with names- he was in New York, and he asked to meet me, that was in March, two years ago. I was in New York for St. Patrick's Day, with the Chieftains, doing a concert in Carnegie Hall. And he told me about the project and I said: "Yes, I would like to meet you and talk about it". And we met in the evening, and he told me about the project, that he had heard about me in Los Angeles. I said: “Well, that's quite natural, that you hear about a Norwegian singer in Los Angeles and you yourself are from Germany, that's quite obvious". And I heard the project and I loved it, so the next day, on my way to the airport, I recorded my part of the song. Warren G recorded his rap three months later, so I was just hoping that Warren G was going to do it. I didn’t know much about rap, but I could hear what kind of rap I liked, and I liked very much Warren G.’s.
DtD) You sang in what language, in Russian or… ?
SK) Yes, in Russian, but I don't do it very well. That's the first thing I have to say. The reason is I was on my way to the airport, and it was the only time I could record it, and I told the producer: “I can't read Russian, I mean, I don't know how to pronounce these words". And then he said: "Oh, I'll get someone for you". Arid so when I arrived in the studio, he had found a Russian cab driver from New York, and his name was… Igor. So he felt that he really had to teach me perfect Russian! That was very hard to do in half an hour, in less than half an hour. And so I tried to do my best, and he was satisfied, but he was very tough.
DtD) And we were satisfied. It was a very big hit in France.
SK) Oh, that's nice. As a matter of fact, Warren and I were going to France, right before Christmas, to do some TV shows, but Warren had to stay in L.A., he got the flu or something ! Then it would have been my second performance in France.
DtD) It was a good feeling, this song, for you, a good "souvenir", like we say in France ?
SK) Oh yes, it really was. It was very fun to do, because it was very different. I'm not a classical singer, so, for me, to do a classical piece – I mean it’s only four lines, but still… I think that was very funny, and to mix with rap…
DtD) And the video clip is very famous, with your crystal hair!
SK) Yeah. That's how I am everyday ! (laugh).
DtD) And now about Titanic, because we talked about James Horner earlier. Do you remember your first meeting with The Maestro, and how did you become involved in the Titanic project ?
SK) I remember my first meeting with James very well. He wanted me to come to L.A., and that was in January or February, and it was a year ago – it feels like much longer but it was a year ago. I met him in a studio, where they were editing The Devil's Own, and mixing the tracks for that movie. He was sitting by the piano and played me the few bars that he had for Titanic at that moment. He just had a theme that he was thinking of using for Titanic. He told me very briefly about the story in the story – I was fascinated of course- and when he played the few bars, just with him and the piano, I got goosebumps, I was taken by the music, by the theme.
DtD) Did you know James Horner or his music before ?
SK) No, I'd never met him. No, I didn’t. Of course I'd heard his music, but I didn't know it was James Horner. I haven't seen Braveheart, so, I’m one of the few that haven’t. I'd never met him. I immediately liked James, and we got on very well. And I started humming the music, and it was perfect for me, I felt the atmosphere of the music and the lines were very natural for me to sing. And I guess James knew that, because he had my voice in mind. And he was very happy that I liked it. It was very weird for me, I mean, he had called me and wanted me to sing on Titanic, on the score, and I came over. To actually do one thing, if you don't get along, it is hard to work together. So I was down there, and I loved the music and I loved the few bars, the four bars that he played for me, the two themes, and…
DtD) What were the bars ? Was it the Rose cue ?
SK) Yes, Rose and also…
DtD) The Main Title, no ?
SK) (singing). Yes… but very simple, because he wasn't finished. But the Rose's theme he had, the beginning of it. So I was like: "Well, this is very nice !". And then he said to me: "Oh, I'm so happy you can do this, I don't know what I would have done without you. " And I said: "Oh, thank you. " I felt like I should say the opposite. I was happy that he wanted me.
DtD) Did he give you any explanation about his choice ?
SK) Why he picked me ? He said that when he heard my last Norwegian album, there was Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg on the album, / Know In Heaven A Castle in English. It's an old traditional religious hymn, so that was the song that decided James that this is the voice that he wanted. Because then he could hear my voice on that level, and my voice had that kind of longing, that atmosphere that he wanted the voice of Titanic to have.
DtD) Yes, he said to me: "atmospheric", he likes this term.
SK) So I was just very happy. So, that was my first meeting with James.
DtD) There was only you, James and the piano ? No musicians, nothing else, no ?
SK) No, because he was working on another film, The Devil's Own, and he was just beginning to work on Titanic. So he was just starting. He wanted to hear my voice humming these few bars, so he knew he was in the right.
DtD) After, there was the official sessions for the recording of the music ?
SK) Yes, then I met him in the Summer, and we recorded it. I was going back and forth all the time, because the film wasn't finished, and so I would come to L.A., and we would record some, and then I would go back again to Denmark, and then again to L.A., and sing and wait and sing and wait…
DtD) Can you explain a session with The Maestro James Horner ?
SK) James is very calm, and he is very well prepared. So I came to the studio in Los Angeles around 10 o'clock, and we started… And there was also the flute player, Tony.
SK) Yes. Tony and I we would record together. Not at the same time: first it was the flute and then it was the voice and then it was the flute… So we were sort of listening to each other's work all the time. And it was a very nice atmosphere in the studio and James was very well prepared and I’m not so good at reading music. I can see when it goes up and down, nothing more, so sometimes the orchestra was not there, it was only the piano, and I had to follow the piano.
DtD) Who played the piano ? James or…
SK) James played the piano. So they had recorded some things, like they had recorded the synths, and then I was going to sing with the synths, and the synths would later be the symphony orchestra. But I didn’t mind that. It was a very happy time, and it was very nice people working on the music, on the score and in the studio. It was a wonderful time, and James had written down nearly everything I should sing. Every trill. And then we could discuss it . Because the flute was there as well, and he wanted me, when I was singing, I was the one who was going to sing very even, nearly non-trill, very brassy, and very eerie of course and very mysterious but still very straight. Very straight. So the flute could be the one that was doing most of the trills. So that was a challenge as well to sing very brassy and in a way I had to hold back. Because I was not going to sing out, you know, I was going to be very held back, and very sore in a way. But still open, very open.
DtD) The CD does not have the Main Title heard in the movie. When I talked to James Horner, he told me about your voice in this particular cue. He said to me your voice is like an equilibrium – I don’t know the English term. Like if your voice was on a rope, and you seem to be down at one moment. We feel the danger, we feel the tragedy.
SK) In the beginning ? Well, the funny thing is I never saw those scenes. And I can't remember when I recorded it, because usually you see them in front of you, the pictures, but sometimes, some of the pictures I haven't seen, because they have moved my voice around. So when I watched the movie the first time, I didn’t know that I was singing in the beginning. So I guess for me it was… When I got the music in front of me, since I was not singing any words, it was very important for me to know the story behind the themes. Even though the themes were quite similar, it was important for me to know what the background was for each part. So I could change my emotions a bit, so I could put some other emotions to different scenes. Though it was sometimes hard and that's probably why it is different, because I have another feeling when I sing it. And it was natural for me, because the music was so natural for me to sing. So, I don't know, was that an answer to your question ?
DtD) Yes, OK.
SK) But I didn't know I was going to start the whole movie. They moved something I did in front. I didn’t mind that, of course.
DtD) Maybe this is a stupid question, but why didn't you sing the song My Heart Will Go On. I love Céline Dion, but…
SK) First of all, I think she does a very great version of it. I really love it. But it is a little political question, because I am not the greatest female record-selling artist ever, you know, and she's a Sony/Columbia artist and the record is a Sony. I'm a Polygram artist and I guess that explains why I'm not singing it.
DtD) Are there funny stories during the session with James or with the players maybe ?
SK) Well, I don't know. We had a lot of fun, but I don't know if other people will find it that funny. I don't know… We just had a great time, it was a very calm fashion, it was very atmospheric of course, because we surrendered to the music, and the scenes of Titanic. Some of the scenes when I recorded them, were so strong that I couldn’t. I remember one time, I was at the studio, and the first time, I always watch the scene. And I could just listen to the piano playing my part. I remember, especially, one scene, it's called A Promise Kept, when Rose is rescued and she discovers that he’s dead, and all the dead people, they just screen over the people who are dead in the ocean, and there’s a picture of a woman with a baby. And I have a baby. When I saw that scene, and the strong scene when Rose discovers that he’s dead, I was just watching that, and James said: "OK, now it's your turn", and I said: “Could we just wait a minute ?". And when I was going to sing it, I couldn't watch it, I just watched: "OK, I'm in’ and then I couldn't watch more. It was very hard. And also the very famous scene when they are standing. I thought that also was a very strong scene. And I couldn't watch that. That was too emotional. So when the music was so emotional, and the scene was so emotional, I couldn't watch it, the music was so strong that I had to take that by itself.
DtD) What do you think about the movie Titanic now ? Is it a big success in Norway and Denmark ?
SK) Oh yes. And in Denmark. I mean it’s a big success and the music as well is very big.
DtD) I’m happy with that. We will have more subscribers (laughs).
SK) The music is a huge success in Norway, and in Denmark they are selling 5,000 copies a day. Yes, in one week there was 5,000 copies a day and that is very much. Denmark has 5,5 million inhabitants. And in Norway, we have 4,5 million people and I've heard that it has sold 140,000 copies. That means it is selling. And people I meet who I thought would just go and see the movie and like it, and that’s it, they come to me and they have seen the movie and they think that it's beautiful, and then they say: “But the music is so wonderful I have to buy it tomorrow". And usually I don’t hear that. But people have to buy it. It’s not just: "I want to buy the music because I like it", it's: "I have to buy it".
DtD) Maybe because of you, because of James, of course, but because of you, your voice is so incredible, the Rose cue…
SK) Well, that's also one of my favourites, the Rose cue.
DtD) It’s the best love theme of the century ! Will you perform this kind of music in a concert, for example ?
SK) I don't know. I know they've been talking about it. He's going on with the next project, when I heard about it, they said to me that James was going to conduct, and I thought: "Mmm. / think I'm going to call James and ask him how much truth there is about this". He’s a very quiet person. So… And he likes to work on new projects. So time will show if… But if we’re going around, Tony is going to be there and Eric too, so it's going to be all three of us.
DtD) Do you have a good relationship with Tony, Eric, all the people connected to Titanic ?
SK) We had a great time at the studio. Of course, Tony was always there when I was there, and just had much more to do on the movie, so he was there all the time. But we had a great time in the studio, we had great fun. Eric was there too. He was there, I think, only two days I was there. So… But they're very nice people. I wouldn't mind doing concerts 'cause I would love to meet the people again.
DtD) Have you a last word about your collaboration with Titanic ?
SK) Of course, as you understand, I'm very happy that James asked me. I was very surprised…
DtD) So you are OK for another album with James Horner.
SK) Yes, absolutely. I’m just sitting by the phone waiting for him to call me. I think he knows I would do anything. If he wants me to do something for him, I will do anything because I really loved working with him.
DtD) The Maestro is a fabulous composer.
SK) I would have said it even if Titanic had been nothing, because I really loved the music he did for Titanic, and I loved the time we spent in the studio. Because he was so easy for me to work with, and he understood my voice perfectly. And even though we'd never met, just by listening to my album and to one song, he knew what my voice could do, and my range and everything. I would definitely want to work with him in the future again.
SK) No, I never met James Cameron. He was so busy editing the movie, he didn't have time to come to the studio, unfortunately, so I never met him. But tell him hello if you meet him.
DtD) OK. I’ll cross the fingers for next Monday, the Academy Awards. I hope James will win for the first time.
SK) He’s always been nominated. I think he will win. I can’t see why he shouldn’t win, because he's written a perfect score for the film. The way people want the music will tell that.
DtD) Yes, but he lost for Braveheart, and it was a nightmare for me. So I hope he'll win for Titanic. What is your next project ? An album in English, in Norwegian ?
SK) I'm now in upstate New York, and I'm working on my new album. We're now writing music, writing songs for my new album. It’s going to be in English but…
DtD) Because I love when you sing in Norwegian or Danish. I don't know the language, but…
SK) It's very similar. And Swedish. But it’s very important for me on this album to sing Norwegian because I think it's very important for people to hear my voice singing in Norwegian because I think it sounds different. It is a world-wide album and I don't mind singing in English, but also the producer, whose name is Rick Chertoff, he loves the Norwegian language. He loves the way I sing in Norwegian, so he and I are very concerned that there's gonna be some songs in Norwegian.
DtD) When will this album be released ?
SK) I don't know. Hopefully at the end of this year.
DtD) And what kind of music ?
SK) Well, time will show ! Of course I have my Scandinavian background, and they have their American background, but we understand each other's cultures. So it's going to be mixed between that. OK. Of course I would like to have a song of James' on my new album.
DtD) It would be great.
SK) I know if he has something, he wants to. I really want that, because I know he knows my voice, so he knows what kind of songs he should write. I'm afraid he won't have time, because he has so much to do… It depends on his time.
DtD) Do you have a final word for this interview for our Hornerian subscribers ?
SK) Well, what should I say ? I'm not so good with final word. All I can say… I think probably they understand I like challenges, I like to do new things, I'm not an artist who has done the same things always. But my background is my Scandinavian, my Norwegian background, and this is going to sound very sticky, but, for me, to have been brought up in Norway, surrounded by beautiful nature, and the ocean. I carry that with me always, and I guess that’s also part of my voice.
DtD) That’s a terrific conclusion.
SK) So that's why it was suitable for me to do Titanic, it is suitable for me to sing the songs from Norway and Scandinavia, and even the Irish songs, because they have the same flavour to it. So it’s no problem for me to sing an American pop song, or a pop song, or a pop ballet or whatever, but that’s not me. So it's so important for me to be honest to myself and to do the songs that are suitable for my voice and to feel like I could take something from inside of me and give it.
DtD) Thank you very much.
Last December, La-La Land records released the definitive presentation of James Horner’s Oscar winning score for Titanic. Given that we have all these wonderful articles and interviews at our fingertips since Dreams To Dream…s magazine (now defunct) gave us the permission to translate into English and (re)publish all their French-language material, we thought you might like to read this interview with one of the key players involved. The following is an interview Céline Dion gave to Dreams To Dream…s magazine not long after Titanic took home 11 Oscars in 1997.
During the last recording sessions of her new album with Jean-Jacques Goldman, Miss Dion accepted to see us. Accompanied by her husband and manager René Angelil, « Queen Céline », as the Maestro used to call her, answered our questions with an open mind and lots of humour.
DtD : First of all, thank you for your time in what must be a very busy schedule.
CD) You’re welcome. René tells me you are crazy about what you do, about film music…
DtD) And about James Horner, more particularly.
CD) Of course.
DtD) Shall we discuss the genesis of My Heart Will Go On ?
CD) Let’s !
DtD) When did you first hear about the song ?
CD) That was a long time ago. James came to see me one day in Las Vegas, where I was doing a show. It was April 1997, I think. He told me : « Listen, Céline, I have something I want to run by you. I believe strongly in it. » He had brought along the song My Heart Will Go On and told me he had composed it for Titanic. He told me about the movie and then, he sat down at the piano and started to play and sing My Heart Will Go On.
DtD) How did it sound ?
CD) Very bad (laughs).
DtD) What do you mean, very bad ?
CD) James is a great composer but a very bad singer (laughs). It was really horrible. I then took Will Jennings’s lyrics and started to get into them. But, I don’t know, something didn’t work. James played the music and I tried to follow. First, I was humming then I tried a clearer voice. But it didn’t work.
DtD) What exactly didn’t work ?
CD) The surprise of it all, perhaps. The lyrics were so profound. Who knows ? I was really not happy. And I could see James was disappointed. And then René came up with the idea of doing a demo.
DtD) An artist like you doing a demo, that’s a bit weird.
CD) No no, not at all. Of course, it was for James. I’d do anything for him, for James. (laughs).
DtD) Watch it, your husband is watching. [laughs]
RA) That’s okay, I have known James for years. The demo was, in fact, the best way to go forward.
DtD) You had already done a demo for Dreams To Dream, the title of our magazine.
CD) Oh yes, that’s right. Great title ! But didn’t you add an …s ?
DtD) Will Jennings asked us the same question. We did that to stress the plural of the dream, the song and the music.
CD) How cool is that ! You’re really crazy about James Horner, aren’t you ?
DtD) Oh, absolutely !
CD) That’s great, music is always the stuff of dreams. And it’s good to dream. Dreams to dream, that’s even better.
DtD) What do you remember about Dreams To Dream ?
CD) I was just starting my career in America. James had listened to my French albums and one day, I got a phone call, he wanted to meet me and asked me to do a demo for Dreams To Dream. There wasn’t much more to it. He had a gut feeling about me in spite of the language barrier. Afterwards, we became friends, very good friends.
DtD) Do you know why your version of the song was discarded in favour of Linda Ronstadt’s ? At the time, Entertainment Weekly quoted James Horner saying higher spirits didn’t believe in your star. He was probably referring to George Lucas, who at the time was involved with Linda Ronstadt.
CD) That might have been part of the decision, but who cares. You know, James and I have always liked working together. Oh, and that very year, I got to do Beauty And The Beast with Alan Menken. That was a great song too, and lots of good memories to boot!
DtD) Didn’t you fear the same thing would happen again on Titanic ?
CD) It’s all par for the course, even when you’re at the top. And besides, René decided to respect James Horner for the artist he is and the passion that burns inside him. We knew we were taking a risk, and perhaps it wasn’t even all that much of a risk : James told us how he had asked Will to write the lyrics without James Cameron knowing about it. The whole song idea had to be kept strictly under wraps. If Cameron had said no, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.
DtD) But it worked out fine.
CD) Absolutely. We recorded the song and felt confident about the whole thing. The melody is so bautiful. It’s such a soft, sad ballad. Near, Far, Wherever you are… (Céline sings and moves her arms with the lyrics.) And Will’s lyrics were so beautiful. No, it was bound to be a success. We were not at all surprised when Cameron told James : « Go for it ! »
DtD) And what about the recording sessions ? The same article from Entertainment Weekly says they were both trying and very touching. It reminds us of Vole (a song from Dion’s 1995 album D’Eux).
CD) Not quite. Or yes, maybe a little bit. Yes, perhaps. Let’s say that Vole touched me on a personal level like no song had ever done before. It was personal, a very peculiar emotion. It’s true that in a way, Will and James took everyone by surprise with this song. Even so, it wasn’t the same kind of emotion. But yes, the recording sessions were trying, that’s for sure. There was a combination of things that made the sessions go on for much longer than anyone had intended. I was very nervous, I was really uncomfortable. And of course, James was there with his flute player.
DtD) Tony Hinnigan.
CD) Yes. They were practically finishing each other’s sentences and frankly, that made me feel even more unsure. I wasn’t able to concentrate the way I usually do. James came over to me and with René, we talked a while between the three of us and it was go again. I was mesmerized by the song, as if the movie, these characters, these star-crossed lovers, had unconsciously stirred something inside me. The song is so powerful, the lyrics are so powerful. It’s quite remarkable, and a bit frightening, to tell you the truth. James and Will had really found a way to fit all the drama, the tragedy and the love of the piece into a four-minute song. Every time I sing My Heart Will Go On, and this is where the comparison with Vole holds, I feel a particular energy. Every song has its own intensity, but this one has an undeniably human quality. I think I worked my way through around fifty live performances during those sessions, go figure ! It was hard but very powerful at the same time.
DtD) Maybe that’s why the road to completing the song was so long and arduous?
CD) Oh yes. It’s like bringing back consciousness to something unconscious. James is really good at that. I know his music a little, he plays with audiences’ emotions. I listened to Titanic, and what he did on this film is just fantastic.
DtD) I told him he is a painter, an « emotionalist ».
CD) « Emotionalist », that’s the right word for it. Knowing him, I think he took it as a compliment. Emotionalist, the word fits him like a glove.
DtD) Did you feel the same kind of pressure during the Oscar ceremony ?
CD) Oh yes ! Ceremonies are always very stressful, and the pressure is even greater when you know millions of people are watching. But James was always there, never more than a few yards away. And Will was sitting right next to him. They were listening to their work, it’s not like a show, the performance is different. It’s hard to put into words. There’s like this communication between the composers and the singer. We ended up winning. We all won. The music, the song. It was just great.
DtD) That’s right, on the photos ABC released, James seemed overjoyed, and you too.
CD) I had been talking to him before the ceremony, and he was trying to hide his stress, although he wasn’t doing a very good job. There was no way he was not going to walk away with two Oscars that night. What he did on Titanic was just too good. That said, I know he had been very disappointed some time before at the Oscars.
DtD) That was two years before, when he didn’t win for Braveheart. He got that one stolen from him. (Translator’s note : James Horner had two scores nominated simultaneously that year, and one of the reasons he lost, was that all his votes got split between Braveheart and Apollo 13. In the end, Luis Bacalov took home the Oscar for The Postman.)
CD) It was a shame. Ah well, this time he has more than made up for it. We were at this amazing party with James Cameron that evening. We all breathed a sigh of relief, it was great fun. I had a long chat with James’s wife, who told me James really wanted that Oscar, he wanted the honour, as she put it. I’m very happy for him and for his family.
DtD) Mr. Horner told us that My Heart Will Go On was a song written especially for you, not because you’re so famous but because of your unique voice.
CD) He’s very sweet. I really don’t know why he offered me the song. It’s a lot like the stuff I like to sing, that’s for sure, it has the mood that I love.
DtD) You have worked with many of the greats in the business: Jean-Jacques Goldman, David Foster, the Bee Gees… What makes James Horner stand out from the lot ?
CD) What does James Horner mean to you ?
DtD) He’s the Maestro, the master.
CD) Well there you are, you’ve just answered your own question. There’s precious little to add. He’s a great composer, like Jean-Jacques and David. They all have their own voice, they all follow their own path. James has his own emotions that he wants to share, and that I in turn can pass on to the audience. We do it because we love music and we love our audience. James is like Jean-Jacques in that he composed My Heart Will Go On specifically for me, but without the strict guidelines that David (Forster) usually sets out. When I work with Jean-Jacques, it’s like : « Okay, go ahead, just get started… » He lets me sing the song as I see fit. In fact, he writes what I am. It’s really specifically for me. In some way, that is also true of My Heart Will Go On.
DtD) If you had to single out one line from Will Jennings’s lyrics, what would it be ?
CD) Love Can Touch Us One Time And Last For A Lifetime (singing). For René, for my parents, for James, for all those people who want to share their love.
DtD) Kenny G, whom you know well, did his own thing with the song. We’ve just received a copy of the album My Heart Will Go On, dance mixes.
CD) That’s great. I haven’t seen it yet. The cover is wonderful. (Céline gets up and slips the disc into a CD player.) That rhythm is pretty neat, don’t you think ? This CD has a history of its own. Columbia came up with the idea for the project. Mike Gorfaine was on board and Will too, but James, well… not so much. He wasn’t really against it, but he was kind of waiting to see how things would turn out. No, actually, I think he really didn’t like the idea (laughs). René and Walter (Afanasieff), my producer, tried to talk him into it in February, if I remember correctly. And then, right before the Oscars, James caved. It even has the Titanic booklet, how great is that ! René and James talked about it at the Oscars, and James told him : « It’s really bad ! » (laughs). You have to love how he reacted, I guess he didn’t want anyone to mess with his music.
DtD) On behalf of the entire team, many congratulations on your brilliant performance of My Heart Will Go On, and on your fantastic career.
CD) You’re very sweet. Say hi to James for me if you see him before I do.
Photo credits: © Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount
Sources: Interviews with Sissel and Céline dion by Didier Leprêtre,. Dreams to Dream … 's 1998.
Special thanks to Didier Leprêtre, Kjell Neckebroeck, John Andrews and Nick Martin.
Translation by Kjell Neckebroeck.