She was born in the small town of Charlemagne, Quebec, with a singing voice that her mother encouraged. By the age of 5 she was performing for anyone who would listen.
In 1980 her mother brought her to agent/manager René Angélil, who so believed in her voice that he mortgaged his home to help finance her career. In 1981 they released her first record in her native French language, "La Voix du Bon Dieu" ("The Voice of God"), that made her an instant star in Quebec. The following year she competed and won the gold medal at the Tokyo World Song Festival. Her career continued to blossom, and in 1987 she produced the album Incognito, which became a huge success. Taking up residency in Switzerland, which allowed her to represent that country, she won the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest giving her career a large boost in Europe. Her 1991 album, Unison, expanded her international recognition.
Back in North America, and working in the United States, her song for Disney's Beauty and the Beast and others, added to her growing stardom. By 1997 her records and her rendition of Will Jennings' song "My Heart Will Go On", written for the motion picture Titanic, made her the top grossing star of the music world, with more than 50 million records sold.