Around 4,000 songs were sent to Dion’s website and management company by the October 5 deadline, Charles Benoit, ex-head of the Quebec TV arm of Canadian group Bell Media, told AFP this week.
Dion’s husband and manager, Rene Angelil, and the CEO of the Les Feeling Productions firm managing her career, Aldo Giampaolo, “were surprised by the dimensions this initiative has taken, and they asked me to organise the works’ selection”, he said.
Dion in late August made her appeal for fresh songs, emphasising that it was “open to everyone”.
The 47-year-old Canadian singer, most famous for performing “My Heart Will Go On” as the theme song for the hit 1997 movie “Titanic”, said she wanted new material for an album in French she’s bringing out next year, and for another one in English in 2017.
The current crop of submitted songs are all for the French album and came by letter, social networks and MP3 files from France and other French-speaking countries.
They will be whittled down to just 25 songs by a panel of six French-language broadcast critics, said Pierre Fortier, a Quebec music festival director whom Benoit tapped to be in charge of the selection process.
“Naturally, out of the 4,000 songs received, there aren’t 4,000 hits, but we’ve already found several good ones,” Fortier said.
An online vote open to the public through Dion’s http://www.celinedion.com website will choose which one of the shortlisted 25 songs will make it on the singer’s album, with the winner announced December 1.
A 56-year-old French amateur singer-composer, Gilles Mazetto, said he hoped his submission, “Cicatrice Dedicacee” (roughly meaning ‘autographed scar’), would make the cut.
“It’s a message in a bottle I’m hoping will be picked up by Celine Dion,” he said.
“I think the song fits her repertoire: it talks about passing time, the moments that define our existence, of those that remain.”
Dion’s last album came out in 2013. In August, she resumed regular concerts she has been giving in Las Vegas since 2011 after taking a year-long hiatus to care for Angelil, 73, who has throat cancer.