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Today 30 years ago: Céline Dion wins Eurovision Song Contest

30 April 2018 at 21:30 CEST
Céline Dion on stage at the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin RTÉ
Exactly 30 years ago today a young singer from Canada made it all the way to the top of Europe's biggest music competition, representing Switzerland. Her name: Céline Dion. She would become one of the world's top selling artists of all time.

In one of the most thrilling endings witnessed in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, Switzerland won the competition for the second time in 1988. It was in Dublin, Ireland, on the 30th of April of that year. The voting was so tight that even presenter Pat Kenny joked after the second last vote from Portugal — of all places — was cast: "I have to tell you that we employed Agatha Christie to write the script for tonight!"

Portugal's 12 points to Céline Dion put her, with 131 points, closer to the country leading at that stage, the United Kingdom's entry Go by Scott Fitzgerald, who was leading with 136 points. It was now only 5 points between the UK and Switzerland and only Yugoslavia left to vote. Their jury awarded 6 points to Switzerland and, given its early top scores, many were expecting the United Kingdom to get 7, or 8, or 10 points.

But they didn't. The spokesperson in Ljubljana then announced their final score: "And finally, France!" It meant no points were awarded to the United Kingdom and Swiss representative Céline Dion was declared the winner. Her lead: Just a single point.

After this thriller ending the cameras turned to the young Canadian singer. Her manager, the late René Angélil, who she would marry later on, was eager to rush her to the stage to collect her prize and get her to reprise her winning song Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi, (Don't Leave Without Me) written by Atilla Sereftug and Nella Martinetti.

In a matter of hours they were back at home in Montreal where she was welcomed as a hero: A Canadian artist had just won the Eurovision Song Contest! One year after Céline Dion opened the 1989 Eurovision Song Contest in Lausanne with her song Where Does My Heart Beat Now, which went on to become a top-5 hit in the United States and made it to the charts around the globe. It also helped establish her career in Europe, after winning the Eurovision Song Contest the year before.

The rest is history. With more than 250 million records sold to date, Céline Dion is one of the world's most successful pop singers. She became a fenomena after singing the soundtrack of the movie Titanic, performed over 700 shows at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and is rumoured to have a net worth of over $630 million.

Céline Dion is a mother of 3 children and currently lives in Nevada in the United States.

The Eurovision Family would like to congratulate Céline Dion for the remarkable career she has built over the past thirty years. We couldn't be more proud!