Celine Balances Music With Motherhood

Celine Dion has become a working mom. She heads to work four to five times a week and explains to her son, Rene-Charles, why mommy has to leave. “I’ll sing as fast as I can and I’ll call you, OK?” she sometimes tells her 5 year old.

Ahead of her 500th show at Caesars Palace on Sunday, the Grammy-winning singer said she wants a break when the show wraps up around the end of 2007, to vacation in the Mediterranean Sea with friends and family, and then move into a new home being built in Florida, where her son will attend school.

“I look forward to go with him in the car in the morning and wish him a good day and not worry about my voice and not discipline myself so much,” said Dion, 38.

In an interview with The Associated Press in her humidity-controlled backstage quarters, the French-Canadian diva talked about her plans for the future, her hopes for another child, but most of all her son.

In January, Rene-Charles turned the same age that Dion was when she began her stellar career, singing with her family as her mother played the violin and father the accordion.

The fair-haired boy seems to love hard rock rather than the ballads Dion is famous for, his Gamecube video game console and sports. Dion said she will not push him to become a performer.

“I certainly don’t see him at 5 the way I was at 5 starting something professional,” she said. “I so much want him to be a kid.”

It’s evident that the constant performances have strained the singer, who began a three-year, $100 million contract at Caesars in March 2003, then extended it through next year.

Last week, she recovered from a viral inflammation of the inner ear called “labyrinthitis” that caused her to miss six shows because of dizziness. She showed up for the interview with a towel and heat around her neck -- something to soothe the strain that comes from performing on a stage that slopes toward the audience.

Backstage, she is surrounded by pictures, mostly of Rene-Charles, but also of a mosaic of the last photo she took with her father before he died at 80 in 2003.

There is a framed sheet with signatures from famous fans -- including Oprah, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Beatles’s original producer, Sir George Martin -- and photos of her husband-manager, Rene Angelil, who mortgaged his home to finance her first album in her early teens. Now, after a brief bout with cancer several years ago, he is often seen playing in high-stakes poker tournaments around the Strip.

Dion said she leads a normal life. Rene-Charles stays up until she comes home and the three of them sleep in the same bed. In the morning, it’s coffee and toast, and then sometimes playing in the empty lot the family purchased beside their home at Lake Las Vegas, about a half-hour drive from Caesars.

Dion said she wants to try to have another child, but will not be disappointed if it doesn’t work out. She told a French magazine in October that a frozen embryo was awaiting her at a New York clinic, created in the in vitro process that helped her give birth to her son.

“Hopefully after this project, we can try to have another one. And if not, it’s what God has decided,” she said. “I never thought I was going to have a child. We have one. It’s such a blessing.”

She noted that the pictures in her dressing room may be a little dated. Her son’s wavy, light hair -- just like his mother’s -- is now “down to his back” she said, touching the small of her back.

“He’s a rocker,” she said, adding she’s never cut his hair even once since he was born.

“I asked him if he wanted me to cut it a little bit, he says, ‘Uh uh, no.’ No he doesn’t want to,” Dion said. “When he’s ready, he’ll let me know.”

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