MONTREAL — When pop superstar Celine Dion brings her summer tour to Montreal beginning on Sunday, Estevam Peric will be in the audience for all 10 shows.
Peric, who moved to Montreal from South America out of a love for Dion, said he fell in love with the singer as a child in his native Brazil when a teacher played Dion’s song “Because You Loved Me” to help the class learn English.
“When I listen to her, it’s peace, it’s happiness,” said Peric, who has seen Dion in concert 54 times.
“I don’t listen to her when I’m sad, because I don’t want her songs to be marked by that.”
The pop singer has no shortage of superfans from all over the world eager to give her a warm welcome during 17 dates in her home province starting July 31.
Nicolas Hyvert, who has flown from Paris for the occasion, has already seen Dion this year in Las Vegas, New York and nine dates in Paris.
But Hyvert, 37, said he’s especially excited to see her sing in her hometown.
“I’m here to see the atmosphere, how she is in Canada, and to see her at home,” he said.
Hyvert says he also plans to visit the grave of Dion’s late husband, Rene Angelil, who died of cancer at age 73. He will also make the half-hour trip to Charlemagne, Que., the Montreal suburb where the singer was born.
He will be catching the shows with friend Arnaud Alcaraz, 29, who also credits Dion for his decision to move to Montreal from France.
“I kept seeing and hearing about Quebec, Canada and Montreal thanks to Celine, and it really made me want to come live here, in the footsteps of my idol,” Alcaraz said.
Many of Dion’s legion of fans say it is the singer’s voice and personal warmth that help make the connection with her.
“For the two hours of a show, we feel good because we get the feeling that we’re only with Celine, that she supports our problems and is telling us to just leave them outside,” Hyvert said.
Growing up in Romania, Cristina Moldovan said she was motivated to learn both French and English to better understand Dion’s songs.
Moldovan, now 35 and living in Montreal, spends her free time travelling to Dion shows as a member of a dedicated international fan group called The Red Heads.
She struggles to explain her love for the singer she began idolizing when she was 13.
“I wanted to be like her,” she said. “I wanted to have a family like hers, to find a true love like she did. She was my role model.”
Dion’s impending arrival has created a tourism frenzy.
Jolly Tours, based in Cornwall, Ont., sold out within hours of announcing a bus trip package that included dinner and tickets to Dion’s show on Aug. 17.
Julie Gagnon, the travel company’s general manager, said she was initial skeptical there would be enough demand to fill the two buses as Cornwall is only a 90 minute drive from Montreal.
“Now I realize we probably could have filled 15 buses with people wanting to see Celine,” she said.
Dion’s new album, “Encore un Soir,” is scheduled for release Aug. 26.