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In defence of Celine Dion (thanks for asking)

Re: 50 Canadians Who Changed the World. I very much appreciate the spirited review that turned up in today’s National Post. Vit Wagner makes some good points (see here). He’s right to mention Lester B. Pearson. I’m a great admirer of Pearson, and I was sorely tempted to include him even though he was born three years before 1900, my admittedly self-imposed cut-off date. But the idea was to paint a portrait of cutting-edge Canada, and to celebrate 20th-century Canadians who are shaping the 21st century. I stand by my decision. On the other hand, I fear I was wrong to omit Mordecai Richler, my all-time favorite Canadian novelist. I have apologized for that here. The one extenuating circumstance I neglected to mention is that, as an ex-Montrealer, I was feeling guilty about the preponderance of Montrealers. If you count them, you will see what I mean. As for Northrop Frye and Robert Lepage, they turn up in my epilogue, which presents a starter-list for Another 50 Canadians Who Changed the World.  Neil Young? The Performers category in 50 Canadians, which encompasses actors, musicians, and athletes, is already the largest in the book. Next time, sure. Oh, but I do stand by the inclusion of Celine Dion, quite apart from album-sales numbers. After quoting  music critic Carl Wilson, who wrote an entire book about his distaste for Dion, and inviting her detractors to please go here, I added: “In my view, Celine Dion changed the world not only by demonstrating the range of the human voice in the context of pop music, but above all by introducing the spirit of French Canada to those who have never known it.” For the rest, I would refer you to the book.

Ken McGoogan
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Anonymous said...

I concur with your "defense", even if Dion's music is bland.

Carl Wilson has also correctly noted Dion's influence (alongside her peers Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston) when it comes to television talent competitions.

Anyone whose ever tuned into one of those in the past 15 years will find Dion imitators, in every single season. And those shows have dominated much of the pop landscape in the past decade..
Even outside of the show, most of the pop diva type of singers will usually list Dion, Carey and Houston among their idols.

Anonymous said...

Edit, I meant "who's"

Before turning mainly to books about arctic exploration and Canadian history, Ken McGoogan worked for two decades as a journalist at major dailies in Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal. He teaches creative nonfiction writing through the University of Toronto and in the MFA program at King’s College in Halifax. Ken served as chair of the Public Lending Right Commission, has written recently for Canada’s History, Canadian Geographic, and Maclean’s, and sails with Adventure Canada as a resource historian. Based in Toronto, he has given talks and presentations across Canada, from Dawson City to Dartmouth, and in places as different as Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Hobart.