Céline Dion has cancelled all her remaining live shows in the European leg of her Courage World Tour, telling fans she is not strong enough to tour after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder.
The 55-year-old French-Canadian singer revealed in December 2022, in an emotional video posted on Instagram, that she had been diagnosed with SPS (Stiff-Person Syndrome). She said the disorder was causing muscle spasms and was "not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I'm used to".
Dion has now cancelled all the shows she had scheduled for 2023 and 2024.
In a statement posted on Twitter, she told fans: "I'm so sorry to disappoint all of you once again.”
“It’s not fair to you to keep postponing the shows, and even though it breaks my heart, it’s best that we cancel everything now until I’m really ready to be back on stage again. I want you all to know, I’m not giving up … and I can’t wait to see you again!”
Often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or anxiety, Stiff-Person Syndrome is a rare neurological condition which causes rigid muscles and painful spasms. According to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), stiff person syndrome is characterised by “abnormal postures, often hunched over and stiffened” and affects twice as many women as men.
Scientists have yet to pinpoint the cause of stiff person syndrome, but research suggests it may be caused by an autoimmune reaction.
A serious risk for people suffering from SPS is that they can easily fall and sustain injuries. There is no known cure, but it is treatable through anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsant medication, pain relievers and immunoglobulin therapy, which can help reduce stiffness and lower sensitivity to noise, touch and other stressors.
Dion, known as "The Queen of Power Ballads", is one of the most successful performers in pop music history. She has five Grammy Awards and two Academy Awards, and is the best-selling female artist of all time with hits like 'My Heart Will Go On', ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ and ‘I’m Alive’.
Her Courage World Tour began in 2019, and she completed 52 shows before the Covid-19 pandemic put the remainder on hold. She later cancelled the North American dates due to health problems. Her spring 2023 shows have now been moved to 2024 and her summer 2023 concerts have been cancelled altogether.