Global superstar Celine Dion has pushed back her Spring 2023 concerts and several European tour dates after revealing Thursday that she has stiff-person syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that prevents her from singing the way she’s used to.
The five-time Grammy Award-winning musician, 54, shared her diagnosis addressing her fans — delivered on Instagram in English and in French — and began each with an apology “for taking so long to reach out.” She told them that she’s ready to share her story, which is dramatically affecting her Courage World Tour.
“I’ve been dealing with problems with my health for a long time and it’s been really difficult for me to face these challenges and to talk about everything that I’ve been going through,” Dion said. “Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called stiff-person syndrome, which affects something like one in a million people.”
Three years after the death of her husband-manager, and rebranded as an avant-garde style icon, the balladeer has returned with a new album and world tour.
The rare neurological disorder has features of an autoimmune disease and is characterized by fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs and a heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms, according to the National Institute of Health‘s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The NINDS said that abnormal postures, often hunched over and stiffened, are characteristic of the disorder and people with SPS can be too disabled to walk or move, or they are afraid to leave the house because street noises, such as the sound of a horn, can trigger spasms and falls. The disorder also affects twice as many women as men and is frequently associated with other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, thyroiditis, vitiligo and pernicious anemia. Causes for the disorder are not yet known.
“While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having,” Dion said, fighting back tears. “Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to.”
The “My Heart Will Go On” and “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” hitmaker added that it “hurts me to tell you today this means I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February.”
In a statement posted on her website, Dion’s team announced that her Spring 2023 shows — running between Feb. 23 and April 11 — have been pushed back to March 6 through April 22, 2024. Eight shows scheduled between May 31 and July 17, 2023, have been canceled. But concerts from Aug. 26 through Oct. 4 remain unchanged on her calendar. (The updated dates can be seen here.)
“Tickets purchased for the twenty-three postponed dates will be honored for the new dates in 2024. Tickets for the eight canceled summer dates will be refunded,” the statement said, adding that additional questions should be answered through ticket-holders’ original point of purchase.
The French Canadian star added that she has “a great team of doctors” working alongside her “to help me get better” and said that her children with late husband Rene Angelil
have been supporting her and giving her hope.
“I’m working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to work to build back my strength and my ability to perform again,” she said. “But I have to admit it’s been a struggle.”
Valérie Lemercier directs and plays a superstar vocalist in the unconventional musical drama “Aline,” loosely based on the life of Celine Dion.
“All I know is singing. It’s what I’ve done all my life and it’s what I love to do the most,” she added. “I miss you so much. I miss seeing all of you, being on the stage, performing for you. I always give 100% when I do my shows, but my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now.”
The entertainer said she has “no choice but to concentrate on my health at this moment,” but she has hope that she’s on the road to recovery.
“This is my focus and I’m doing everything that I can to recuperate,” she said, later adding, “Take care of yourselves. Be well. I love you guys so much, and I really hope I can see you again real soon.”
Following her blockbuster 16-year Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, Dion embarked on her first world tour in more than a decade in September 2019 to promote her album “Courage,” although much of the tour was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she repeatedly made plans to relaunch the tour in 2021, she canceled the North American leg of the tour early this year because of “severe and persistent muscle spasms,” as well as “ongoing recovery” from health issues.