Mark Robertson

Mark Robertson

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Celine Dion speaks about what it's like to sing with Stiff Person Syndrome

Celine Dion has opened up about her struggle with stiff-person syndrome (SPS) in an interview with TODAY’s Hoda Kotb. In a chilling description of what it’s like to perform with the neurological condition, the artist said singing now feels like “somebody’s strangling you.”

“It’s like someone is pushing your larynx, pharynx,” Dion elaborated, while demonstrating the effect by pressing down on her throat. “It’s like you’re talking like that, and you cannot go higher or lower.”

Dion revealed she was diagnosed with the rare and incurable neurological condition — which causes progressive stiffness of muscles in the torso, arms, and legs — in December 2022.

Speaking to Kotb, Dion added that SPS also impacts her in the abdomen, spine, and ribs. “Sometimes, when it’s very severe, it can break some ribs,” she explained.

“It feels like if I point my feet, they will stay [in that position],” she continued. “Or if I cook, my fingers, my hands will get in position. It’s cramping, but it’s like in a position of like, you cannot unlock them.”

Dion has been forced to cancel touring to focus on recovery from stiff-person syndrome, but she did make a surprise appearance at the Grammys earlier this year to present Taylor Swift with the Album of the Year trophy. Despite the severity of her condition, she does intend to continue performing: “I miss it so much. The people, I miss them. If I can’t run, I’ll walk. If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl. I won’t stop.”

The legendary singer will go into further depth about her health difficulties in the upcoming documentary I Am: Celine Dion, premiering June 25th on Prime Video.


Photo: VALERIE MACON / AFP / Getty Images

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