In this feature, you will find information about the Celine Dion band, considered by herself as her "second" family. Notice that the list does not contains all the former members of the band.
Everyone knows Celine Dion, but how much people know about the people behind her?. The members of Celine´s band are all extremely talented, and very nice people, who deserve recognition for the hard work that they have put in with Celine for many years. Here you can find out what the band members did while Celine was in semi-retirement, what they did before working with Celine and how they feel about her. The following list includes the current members of the Celine Dion band, and also former members, not including casual musicians who played with Celine sometime.
[ Celine and the band during a concert in Paris, France in June 1999 ]
...> Claude "Mégo" Lemay
Claude Lemay, commonly known as Mégo (meaning cigarette butt), has been the piano player and music director for Celine for more than 14 years. Yet he didn´t always like her music. When first asked to be her music director, he saw her as a little girl and refused to work with her. Then, he saw her "Incognito" special and realised that she had changed since he last saw her, and agreed to work with her. Lemay married with Dominique Géraldo, who worked with Celine as choreographer.
In 1987, Claude Mégo Lemay was the head of orchestra of the Granby Song Festival (or Festival de la chanson de Granby) and also worked with Jean-Guy Moreau lorse that the producer Jean-Claude the hope proposed to him to direct the musicians of Celine within the framework of the new tour which the singer was going to undertake. "I spontaneously answered him no, because the fact of associating to me to the interpreter of the song Une colombe did not correspond to my image, which was more rock´ roll. He then suggested that I watch the TV special Incognito, which was on a few days later. After having seen the program, I wanted the job. My first meeting with Celine took place at her house in Laval. When she started to sing during the show, I had shivers. But, at the time, who could suspect that Celine would become the engine of such a gigantic machine?. With the wire of time, I became a little like her big brother, and her, my little sister. What characterizes our relationship, is that on scene we do not need to say anything to understand each other. Celine allowed me to carry out great dreams, like playing on the Wembley stage in front of 65 000 people, where we were the last to produce there before its demolition. My partner, Dominique Géraldo, also works with the tour team as the choreographer, because we needed a person appointed to recruit the dancers in various cities which we visit. I have just finished the music of the tour of Daniel Lemire and that of a theatre in Saint-Sauveur in summer", said Lemay. Lemay has seen Celine cry on stage and bring joy to a sick young girl. When Rene Angelil had to fight with cancer, Lemay took the reins during the European leg of the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". Lemay said he never missed a single show with Celine since he joined her team in September 1987. He even played on the night his father died, at the first show of the "Incognito Tour" in Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. It was the first time that Celine and Lemay did a show together. That day Lemay had spent some of the afternoon at the hospital. His father was in terrible pain. Nevertheless, he decided to go to Drummondville for the concert.
[ Claude "Mégo" Lemay, Dominique Messier, André Coutu, Marc Langis, Yves Frulla and Paul Picard ]
...> André Coutu
This friendly and very likable native of Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada is famous mainly as a long-time guitarist of Celine, a lyricist and also as a composer. Coutu has been Celine´s guitarist since 1992, joining for Celine´s first tour as the supporting artist for Michael Bolton in USA. After, Celine went on her break he worked on many projects, including composing songs with Barnev Valsaint and working on the album of Isabelle Boulay. André married with Sophie and he is father of two girls.
Coutu loved music since he was a child and that´s just why he decided to study guitar-playing at the Universite de Montreal. He had presented himself in many TV shows and performances in Montreal, when he got an offer that changed his life. It was an engagement into the band of, at that time not so much famous young singer, Celine, who, during the next few years, became one of the best and best selling singers of the contemporary world. Before being the guitarist of Celine, Coutu played with Mario Pelchat and Franck Olivier as well as on the TV show "Les Démons Du Midi". "When, in 1988, I temporarily replaced one of the musicians of Celine, I already admired the singer who she was. At the time of our first meeting, her and Rene Angelil treated me with much respect. A few months later, he made it possible for me to accompany Celine in all her concerts. I like the way in which Celine and Rene direct the musicians: that enabled me to be exceeded. The symbiosis of the team was so exceptional that there never was the least small fight. My wife, Sophie, was always most understanding with respect to my absences during the tours. On some occasions, she even came to join me abroad", said Coutu.
[ Coutu and Élise Duguay during the "Falling Into You Tour" in 1996 ] [ André Coutu and Yves Frulla ]
...> Marc Langis
Marc Langis has played the bass guitar for Celine since August 6, 1995, at a festival in Alberta, Canada. He trained in Classical Music and Jazz at the University of Miami and before playing for Celine, he played for Sonia Benezra. Marc also worked with Lara Fabian, on her albums "Lara Fabian" and "Carpe Diem". Marc still plays the bass, for Isabel Boulay, hopes to give lessons and also works for a company in Montreal who sell guitars.
One of the beautiful memories that Marc shared with Celine is the party that the singer gave in 1999, at the end of the "Let´s Talk About Love World Tour". "She had invited us all to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA and she had even made us take a small turn in her new yacht which had been just delivered. Today, I am the person in charge of the artistic relations for Godin Guitars, a Quebec company which became international. I work especially near the musicians of artists, like Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony, who are passing through Montreal and wish to get new instruments. Moreover, as a bass player, I accompany Isabelle Boulay for semi-private concerts in Quebec", said Langis. Langis has replaced singer Jean-Jacques Goldman on the song "J´irai où tu iras" in duet with Celine, several times in concerts.
[ Jean-Sebastien Carre and Marc Langis ]
...> Paul Picard
Paul Picard is Céline´s percussionist. He first played for Celine when she recorded "Une colombe", and was then in her band for her first tour in 1985. He then returned to playing in Quebec, Canada with people such as Michel Rivard and Paul Piché. He rejoined Celine´s team on August 6, 1995, for an outdoor festival in Alberta, Canada.
Picard is described as a "musicians musician" and "a man with style and taste". About Celine he said she was one of the "most impressive things I´ve ever seen in show business. Fame hasn´t gone to her head". Picard, who began his career in 1972, had already accompanied Celine on tour in 1984 before finding her again in 1995. "On meeting her again, my first words were: You did not change!. She was the same girl who, all those years ago, sang Une colombe. She made is a genuine Tour De Force!", said Picard. Paul speaks of his many marvellous memories including two stays in Australia. "I also remember Halloween where we were on tour. All the team had been disguised". Picard was replaced by Nanette Fortier, who joined Celine´s band in 2006 for the residency show "A New Day...", at the Colosseum of the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, USA. After Nanette Fortier left the band, Picard returned to the band for the second residency show in Vegas, "Celine" in 2011.
[ Dominique Messier and Paul Picard ]
...> Dominique Messier
Dominique Messier is a very talented drummer who has been working with Celine for more than nine years. The first contact between Celine and Dominique goes back to 1991, at the time of the ADISQ Awards ceremony. Messier accompanied Celine in her interpretation of "Les blues du businessman".
"When in 1995, there was some discussion about finding a new drummer for the orchestra of Celine, my name was at the head of list. Mégo and me had been friendly since 1982 or 1983. Moreover, Rene Angelil and Celine knew already my girlfriend, the singer Marie-Lou Gauthier. In fact, the public discovered me in the television series Épopée Rock´ n´roll. Thereafter, I joined the group of musicians in the TV program of Sonia Benezra. In parallel, I accompanied many big singers on their albums", said Messier. Within Celine´s team, Messier played the drums: "Céline will say to you: He is insane!. By making her laugh, I removed a little pressure for her. And as I had learned the techniques of massage, before the shows, in 1995, I massaged Celine to help her to release tension and relax. But, listen to me: I never claimed to be a pro on the matter. I undertook that until a masseuse joined the tour team, on the recommendation of Celine´s doctor. During these voyages, I was made many friends, that unfortunately I do not see any more. It is certain that I miss the pace of life during the world tours", said Messier.
...> Yves Frulla
Yves Frulla has been playing the keyboard for Celine since the 1990 "Unison Tour". He also recorded "All by myself" on the "Falling Into You" album in 1996. He was doing various shows with Celine, as well as working on Garou´s English album. He also worked on the soundtrack for a film.
Frulla has also recorded music for many TV commercials, and demo tapes for singers and songwriters. Frulla nickname, given to him by Celine is "dark-viber". Frulla is a trained keyboardist and MIDI programmer. He toured with Quebec artist Michael Breen, and Sass Jordan before joining Celine´s team. Frulla told how he got the job with Celine. "I auditioned in 1990 in a small theater that they rented for the auditions. They gave me three songs from the Unison album to program (on the keyboard) and play with the band that was there at the time", said Frulla. He says Celine on tour is extremely nice on tour and also very generous. "We have always a good laugh when she´s around, she´s a party girl when she wants to be", said Frulla.
[ André Coutu, Yves Frulla and Claude "Mégo" Lemay ]
...> Jean-Sebastien Carre
Jean-Sebastien is the violinist (sometimes guitarist and backing vocalist) of Celine Dion band. He joined Celine´s team for her first residency show "A New Day..." at the Colosseum of the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, USA in 2003. He continued working with Celine on the "Taking Chances Tour" and on the second residency show in Vegas, "Celine".
Carre born on February 19, 1977, he lived his childhood in a small village called St-Raphael de Bellechasse in the suburbs of Quebec, Canada. Very young (3), he began taking violin lessons, instrument he particularly appreciates despite its age. Already, he gave concerts for violin classmates in elementary school, then he starts singing on stage while he was in high school. His first band was called FeedBack, and at the age of 15 he was already performing in bars. Then, Carre enrolled at the Cégep de Sainte-Foy in music (violin and vocals), before continuing at CEGEP St. Laurent Jazz interpretation. He began his professional career year doing radio ads and accompanying Mario Chenart, including opening for Bruno Pelletier at the Festival d´été de Québec (Quebec City Summer Festival). After meeting with guitarist/producer Réjean Lachance (Richard Seguin, Martine St-Clair, Roch Voisine), he began recording his first album under the direction of Réjean also signing arrangements.
[ Neil Evans, Carré and Claude "Mego" Lemay in England in May 2008 ]
...> Barnev Valsaint
Barnev Valsaint is one of Celine´s backup vocalists since the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour", after replaced the former backup vocalist, Terry Bradford. Valsaint has accompanied Celine on several duet songs during the tours and shows with the band.
Growing up in Montreal, Canada where the population is divided between French and English as the predominant language, Valsaint started his education on the north side of Montreal, where he spoke French as his first language. "I went to school, which was taught in French and spoke French at home", he recalled, then moved to west Montreal. "Once we moved to the west island, all my friends spoke English". Valsaint started a band with two of his friends in 1993 called NoDéjà and so far they only have one album out, called "NoDéjà". Valsaint said "Celine wanted me to come on tour because her former backup vocalist, Terry Bradford, decided he´d been touring long enough and wanted to do other things. They called me in for an audition and it was between me and another guy. They sent the videotape to Celine and she said, I want Barnev. I was only supposed to be on tour with her during her Let´s Talk About Love world tour. Basically, I was just filling in for Terry and was only supposed to go for that one tour. Then once that tour ended, they asked me to stay. They were such good people, and my group basically deteriorated because everyone wanted to do their own thing. I decided I might as well stay with Celine, and have been with her ever since". He told that when he worked for the first time with Celine, she affectionately said to him "Make yourself at home; if you need anything, ask for it. Welcome to the family". Valsaint said "so that for a moment, I forgot that I was in the presence of an international megastar".
[ Barnev Valsaint and Élise Duguay ]
...> Élise Duguay
Élise Duguay is one of Celine´s backing singers and first worked for Celine in 1988 but only became a full-time member of the team in 1994. Duguay is married to Dennis Savage, Celine´s sound engineer, who she met on the tour. Duguay played the flute during "My heart will go on", and the cello (during "Call the man" in the "Falling Into You tour"). She also played the keyboard during some of the songs.
Duguay has toured with people such as Garou and Isabelle Boulay. She sang backing vocals on Isabelle´s album "Mieux Qu´Ici Bas" in the songs "Jamais assez loin", "Trop de choses", "Le coeur combat" and "Quand vos coeurs m´appellent". She also sang on the album "Etats D´amour". Duguay has a solid reputation in the Quebec musical world: her voice, warm and rich, has led her to the largest cities of the world. The talented Duguay acknowledges not being attracted to becoming a solo artist. She prefers, to remain in the background and work with musical harmony. Chorus-singer with the small screen for the first time for the television show "RSVP", and then in "Beau et Chaud" (1988-1992), Duguay then took part, in 1989 and 1990, with the tour of Quebec rocker Roch Voisine. She sang and played of the cello for the Cirque Du Soleil in Japan in 1992, and obtained several contracts as a freelancer. She returned to work for Celine when she went to join her (now) husband Denis Savage, who had worked as sound engineer for Celine for several years already. On February 7, 1994 Duguay went to join him in Los Angeles, USA. They were not married at the time yet. And on her first day there, Claude Lemay, the bandleader of Celine, told her that one of the chorus-singers left the tour. He then asked her if she was interested in working with them. She accepted and a few weeks later and on February 25, 1994 she went to Celine´s concert in Boston, USA where Mego gave her a tape of the show. So that she could learn the words, to know where to sing, to practice the choreography. She had only one week to prepare for her first show. The first show of Celine´s in which she took part took was in Toronto, Canada on March 5, 1994. Since then, she has performed everywhere in the world. "Celine, makes all the difference. She eats, laughs, dances and has fun with us. She does not spend all of her time locked in her hotel room. She spends time with the musicians, technicians, with the truck-drivers. She is cordial, maternal and very protective. If somebody is sick, you can be sure that Celine is the first to be worried. Another example: after each concert, when the audience has left the building, she thanks all the team by the portable radio. It should be done that way by everyone", said Duguay.
[ Julie Leblanc and Duguay ] [ Leblanc, Celine and Valsaint ]
...> Dawn Cumberbatch
Dawn Cumberbatch is one of Celine´s backing singers. She joined Celine´s team for the second residency show "Celine", at the Colosseum of the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, USA after replaced the former backing singers, Mary-Lou Gauthier.
[ Dawn Cumberbatch, Élise Duguay and Barnev Valsaint ]
...> Julie Leblanc
Julie LeBlanc was one of Celine´s backing singers. She has been touring with Celine since the Memphis, USA concerts in 1997 (from the "Falling Into You Tour"). During the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour", LeBlanc not only sang but also played the keyboard on some of the songs (for example "Je crois toi". During her break from working with Celine, LeBlanc toured with people such as Lara Fabian. She also gave singing lessons, as well as being a backing musician forartists recording their albums.
LeBlanc sang backing vocals for Isabelle Boulay on her album "Mieux Qu´ici Bas" on the songs "J´amais assez loin", and "Quand vos coeurs m´appellent". Isabelle described Julie as "the beautiful one, the thin one and the reassuring one" of her singers. "Before each concert, all three of us (the backing singers) would spend half an hour doing singing exercises, and it sometimes happened to us déconner. I feel privileged to have these invaluable memories with Celine. We have all enormously progressed on both personal and vocal matters", said LeBlanc. After the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour", LeBlanc left the band.
[ Julie Leblanc, Barnev Valsaint and Élise Duguay ]
...> Mary-Lou Gauthier
Mary-Lou Gauthier was one of Celine´s backing singers. Gauthier joined Celine´s team for her first residency show "A New Day..." at the Colosseum of the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, USA in 2003 (replacing former backing singer, Julie Leblanc). Gauthier continued working with Celine on the "Taking Chances Tour" but after that tour, she left the band.
Gauthier´s musical heritage goes back to her great-aunt Eva Gauthier, a celebrated vocalist who performed with George Gershwin and introduced him to Maurice Ravel. By the age of 9, Gauthier was soloing at St. Patrick´s Basilica in Montreal, Canada and she hasn´t stopped singing since. At 10, she made her first radio appearance, by 16, she had won a nationally televised talent competition. Inspired by her mother, singer Patricia Hinton, and her mentor, James Sarroino, Gauthier continued to explore her vocal gifts and soon discovered a lasting love for R&B and gospel music. Gauthier´s voice has taken her from gospel choirs in her teens to rock´n´ roll in her 20s, when she was the lead singer for the group Milkwood, to singing and recording with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Her talents have graced stages and studios around the world, she brings a powerful soprano R&B voice to albums, film music, commercials and live shows. Gauthier is also an acclaimed songwriter. She later led the band Toulouse before taking a break to raise her children. Gauthier has knows Celine since 1985, she also works as part of the songwriting and producing team with Celine´s drummer, Dominique Messier, and bassist, Marc Langis.
...> Terry Bradford
Terry Bradford was a backing singer for Celine and was replaced by Barnev Valsaint during the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". Bradford has accompanied Celine on the duet song "Beauty and the beast" during the "Falling Into You Tour" (replacing singer Peabo Bryson).
There were rumours that he was ill, or Celine had asked him to leave, but the official story is that he was recording a solo album. He has sung on the soundtracks of films such as "The Lion King" and "Amistad".
[ Élise Duguay, Bradford and former backing singer, Rachelle Jeanty ]