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The Day I Met Celine Dion
All my dreams have officially come true.
This morning, I met Céline Dion.
I went to the Today show concert, and I lived for every moment Céline was onstage. I laughed (when she sang Rihanna’s “Work” during sound check), I cried (when she sang “A New Day Has Come”)…
…I gawked (that silver sequin pantsuit — need), and then I got to go inside the studio to meet my favorite performer in the whole world.
I have loved Céline Dion my whole life. So when I heard she’d be performing on the Today show’s summer concert series, I knew I had to be there. And while the concerts are free and open to the public, I wanted a good spot in the crowd. Obviously. So from the bottom of my heart [of the ocean], THANK YOU to my friend Meredith, who used to work at Today and hooked me up with VIP passes. I will never love anyone more than I love Meredith. (Except Céline, but double duh.)
My friend Emily and I made the [not very long] trek from New Jersey to RockeFELLER Center at 5 AM, and were at the plaza by 5:30. We hopped into the VIP line — which was longer than I would have expected — and waited and made friends. I loved it. The energy was so fun, everyone was so excited, and people were so nice. (In the middle of Manhattan, no less!)
Around 5:50, they started bringing everyone in, and we were just a few people back from the stage. It was awesome, and I think I just kept saying, “Oh my god. Oh my god. Holy crap. Oh my god.” For someone who has interviewed and worked with loads of celebrities and has never once felt starstruck, I was feeling it.
Sometimes, before the show starts, the artists come out to do sound checks — and Céline did! Such a treat! She came out and performed her full set for us before it was even 7 AM! She was wearing a cool denim shirt and she looked amazing and she’s so funny. She loved hamming it up for the crowd, and she even improvised a performance of “Over the Rainbow.” All the while, we were having the best time singing along and dancing and making friends in the crowd.
Now let’s go back in time.
When I found out I had VIP passes, I knew I wanted to wear something special, like a cool Céline Dion shirt or perhaps a sparkly floor-length gown like one Céline might wear. I didn’t like the options on Amazon, so just one day before the concert, I called up a friend who works for my favorite Bow & Drape and asked if there was any chance I could get a last-minute shirt made. I wanted it to say “THAT’S THE WAY IT IS” (my second favorite Céline song) in gold sequin letters. He said yes, I just needed to come pick it up.
Well, I couldn’t come pick it up, because my Thursday was slammed with calls, appointments, and a nighttime event. But Brian said he’d make sure someone got it (like an intern or something — I owe you guys!).
When my event ended late last night, I hadn’t heard from Brian, and last I heard, no one was able to pick up my shirt. SO SAD. Brian finally made it home around 10 PM…shirt in hand. Turns out, he went to get it for me and then got trapped underground for more than an hour on the subway. HUSBAND OF THE YEAR.
Why is that important?
Because the shirt was a hit.
I assumed everyone would be wearing gold sequin Céline shirts, but not so! So I was mostly just living my best life during Celine’s sound check, and producers and cameramen would come over and ask me to scream stuff into the camera, which I’m sure looked and sounded insane, but they seemed to love it.
The live show began at 7 AM, as it does, and we were told Céline would be performing at 8 and 8:30.
She reemerged just before 8:00 wearing a silver sequin pantsuit. She’s amazing.
She performed a new song (“Water and a Flame”), a medley of her classics, and “Because You Loved Me.” Everyone on the plaza was holding up their phones and iPads and iWhatevers, but I put my phone away for the most part and just took it in and enjoyed it. She also ended up singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” because they liked it so much during the soundcheck. So we basically got a full Céline Dion concert. For free. In the middle of New York City.
At some point, the hype man — you know, that guy who is kind of in charge and gets everyone to cheer on cue — told me he liked me, and asked if I was available after the concert to come into the studio. Here’s how the conversation went…
Hype Man Alex: I like your energy, and your shirt. You’re great. Are you available to stick around a bit this morning to come into the studio and do a segment during the 9:00 hour?
Alison: [Blank stare]
Hype Man Alex: We’re going to do a game show where the contestants and the hosts fill in the blanks from Celine Dion songs.
Alison: Oh god, I don’t know. Do I know all her lyrics? I think I do. I don’t want to be bad. I’m really sweaty. This shirt is cotton.
Hype Man Alex: Are you available to do it?
Alison: I’ll do it if I can take a picture with Céline Dion! (This was a joke. I assumed she was leaving right after performing.)
Hype Man Alex: Well you’ll get to meet her. She’s hosting it.
Alison: [Collapses to the ground.]
So when Queen Céline was done performing, they brought me into the studio and I met the other two contestants.
We were told who our partners would be — I was with Jenna Bush Hager! — and given a super quick rundown of how the segment would work. I had to turn my phone off (not just airplane mode!), so I couldn’t take any pictures, but then Céline walked past us and into Studio 1A, and I just. kept. sweating.
The segment was silly and fun, and Jenna and I were declared the winners (even though Jonathan totally stole the show and was amazing).
Before the segment started, Céline was so nice and funny, and she got us all to sing along with her, and she seemed exactly like she does from all her funny behind-the-scenes videos. (The segment isn’t online, but if they put it up, I’ll share it. Obviously.)
Before I left, I swung by the Orange Room, flipped through Wranger’s scrapbook, snapped a quick pic, and then practically floated my way back to New Jersey.
Best day ever?
Best. Day. Ever.
Here are a few videos from the day… (I’m in the first one!)
And a few more gratuitous photos…
Biggest, most gracious thanks to Meredith for the VIP passes, without which I would never have met CÉLINE DION. And to Emily, for being the best hype girl and buddy, and for being willing to wake up at 4 AM to go to the concert. And to Brian, for picking up my shirt.
I’m gonna be so pissed if I wake up tomorrow and this was all a dream…