The 2024 Grammys was certainly packed with heartfelt moments: Taylor Swift made history with her record-breaking Grammy win; Meryl Streep had a sweet on-stage interaction with her son-in-law Mark Ronson; and Joni Mitchell performed at the award show for the first time, at the age of 80. One of the best – and most unexpected – events of the evening, however, was the surprise appearance of legendary singer Celine Dion, who has been largely out of the public eye as she battles the rare neurological condition, Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS).
The 55-year-old was in attendance to present the biggest award of the night for Album of the Year, which went to Swift for Midnights. As the My Heart Will Go On singer walked out onstage with her son – 27 years after Diana Ross presented the same prize to her – she was greeted with rapturous applause.
"Thank you all... When I say that I'm happy to be here, I really mean it from my heart," Dion said. "Those who have been blessed enough to be here at the Grammy awards must never take it for granted, the tremendous love and joy that music brings to our lives and to people all around the world."
Swift walked on stage to Dion's hit song, The Power of Love, and graciously accepted the trophy accompanied by friend Lana Del Ray and producer Jack Antonoff – though she later drew criticism from some online for appearing to offer Dion only the briefest acknowledgement. The pair later quashed rumours of a rift by hugging each other for photographs backstage.
Dion has sold more than 250 million albums during her 40-year career, and has won five Grammy awards herself. She was diagnosed with SPS in 2022, and later cancelled her Courage world tour due to the illness, which causes difficulty moving and with her vocal cords.
The main symptoms of SPS are muscle stiffening and spasming, which can be triggered by environmental stimuli like loud noises, and can calm down when the stimulus is gone. Currently there is no cure for SPS, but the disease can be treated by methods including the use of muscle sedatives and relaxants.
Last month, it was announced that a documentary following the singer as she lives with her illness will be released on Amazon Prime Video. "This last couple of years have been such a challenge for me," Dion said in a press statement. "The journey from discovering my condition to learning how to live with and manage it, but not to let it define me. As the road to resuming my performing career continues, I have realised how much I have missed it, of being able to see my fans. During this absence, I decided I wanted to document this part of my life, to try to raise awareness of this little-known condition, to help others who share this diagnosis."
Dion's triumphant return to the stage recalls the moment that Christina Applegate, who is suffering from MS, was given a standing ovation at the Emmys last month. See our coverage of awards season here, including the best beauty looks from last night, and the books to read in advance of the Oscars.
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