Dion ended the 1990s with two more extremely successful albums—the Christmas album These Are Special Times (1998), and the compilation album All the Way... A Decade of Song (1999). On These Are Special Times, Dion became more involved in the writing process. She co-wrote the song, Don't Save It All For Christmas Day along with Ric Wake and Peter Zizzo. The album was her most classically influenced yet, with orchestral arrangements found on virtually every track. "I'm Your Angel", a duet with R. Kelly, became Dion's fourth U.S. number one single, and another hit single across the world. All the Way... A Decade of Song drew together her most successful hits coupled with seven new songs, including the lead off single "That's the Way It Is", a cover of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", and "All the Way", a duet with Frank Sinatra. By the end of the 1990s, Celine Dion had sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, and had won a slew of industry awards. Her status as one of the biggest divas of contemporary music was further solidified when she was asked to perform on VH1's Divas Live special in 1998, with superstars Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estefan, Shania Twain and Mariah Carey. Dion also performed in Modena, Italy for the PBS special Pavarotti and Friends along with artists like The Corrs, Jon Bon Jovi, The Spice Girls, and Vanessa Williams. That year she also received two of the highest honors from her home country: "Officer of the Order of Canada for Outstanding Contribution to the World of Contemporary Music" and "Officer of the National Order of Quebec". A year later she was inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame, and was honoured with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. She also won the Grammy Awards for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" and the most coveted "Record of the Year" for "My Heart Will Go On" (the song won four awards, but two were presented to the songwriters).
2000–2002: Career break
After releasing and promoting thirteen albums during the 1990s, Dion stated that she needed to settle down, and announced on her latest album All the Way... A Decade of Song, that she needed to take a step back from the spotlight and enjoy life. Anglil's diagnosis with throat cancer also prompted her to hiatus. While on break, Dion was unable to escape the spotlight. In 2000, the National Enquirer published a false story about the singer. Brandishing a picture of Dion and her husband, the magazine misquoted Dion, printing the headline, "Celine — 'I'm Pregnant With Twins!'" Dion later sued the magazine for more than twenty million dollars. The editors of the Enquirer printed an apology and a full retraction to Dion in the next issue, and donated money to the American Cancer Society in honor of Dion and her husband. A year after the incident, after undergoing fertility treatments, Dion gave birth to a son, Ren-Charles Dion Anglil, on January 25, 2001 in Florida. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dion returned to the music scene, and in a televised performance sang "God Bless America" at the benefit concert America: A Tribute to Heroes. Chuck Taylor of Billboard wrote, "the performance... brings to mind what has made her one of the celebrated vocalists of our time: the ability to render emotion that shakes the soul. Affecting, meaningful, and filled with grace, this is a musical reflection to share with all of us still searching for ways to cope."
2002–2003: Return to music
Dion's aptly titled A New Day Has Come, released in March 2002, ended her three-year break from the music industry. The album was Dion's most personal yet, and established a more mature side of Dion with the songs "A New Day Has Come", "I'm Alive", and "Goodbye's (The Saddest Word)", a change that resulted from her new-found maternal responsibilities, because, in her own words, "becoming a mother makes you a grown-up." She stated, "A New Day Has Come, for Rene, for me, is the baby. It has everything to do with the baby...That song ["A New Day Has Come"] represents very well the mood I'm feeling right now. It represents the whole album." While the album achieved commercial success, critical comments suggested that it was "forgettable" and the lyrics were "lifeless". Both Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine, and Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, stated that Dion's music had not matured during her break, and classed her music as trite and mediocre. Sal Cinquemani of Slant magazine called the album "a lengthy collection of drippy, gooey pop fluffer-nutter."
During 2002, she performed for many benefit concerts, including for a second time (the first one was in 1998 at the Beacon Theater, New York, with Shania Twain, Gloria Estefan, Carol King, Mariah Carey, and Aretha Franklin) the famous VH1 Divas Live, a concert to benefit the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, but in this time in Las Vegas, joining with Cher, Anastacia, Dixie Chicks, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Cyndi Lauper, and Stevie Nicks.
Drawing inspiration from personal experiences, Dion released One Heart (2003), an album that represented her appreciation for life. The album largely consisted of dance music—a deviation from the soaring, melodramatic ballads, for which she had once been given mixed reception. Although it achieved moderate success, One Heart hinted at Dions' inability to overcome the creative wall that she had hit, and words such as "predictable" and "banal" appeared even in the most lenient reviews. A cover of the 1989 Cyndi Lauper hit "I Drove All Night", released to launch her new advertising campaign with Chrysler, incorporated dance-pop and rock and roll and was called reminiscent of Cher's 1980s work. However, it was dismissed as Dion trying to please her sponsors. By the mid 2000s Dion's music had changed to the point where her releases possessed maternal overtones. Miracle (2004), a multimedia project conceived by Dion and photographer Anne Geddes, had a theme centering on babies and motherhood. The album was saturated with lullabies and other songs of maternal love and inspiration, the two most popular being covers of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" and John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy". The reviews for Miracle were generally weak: while Charles Taylor of Billboard magazine wrote that the single "Beautiful Boy" was "an unexpected gem" and called Dion "a timeless, enormously versatile artist", Chuck Arnold of People Magazine labeled the album as excessively sentimental, while Nancy Miller of Entertainment Weekly opined that "the whole earth-mama act is just opportunism".
The Francophone album 1 fille & 4 types (1 Girl & 4 Guys, 2003), fared better than her first two comebacks, and showed Dion trying to distance herself from the "diva" image. She recruited Jean-Jacques Goldman, Gildas Arzel, Eric Benzi, and Jacques Veneruso, with whom she had previously worked on two of her best selling French albums S'il suffisait d'aimer and D'eux. Labeled "the album of pleasure" by Dion herself, the cover showed Dion in a simple and relaxed manner, contrary to the choreographed poses usually found on her album covers. The album achieved relative critical success: reviewer Stephen Erlwine of Allmusic wrote that Dion was "getting back to pop basics and performing at a level unheard in a while."
Though her albums were commercially successful, they did not achieve the sales or the reception of her previous works. Albums like The Collector's Series, Volume One (2000), and One Heart (2003) did not perform as well critically. Her songs received less airplay as radio became less embracing of balladeers like Dion, Carey, and Houston, and was focused on more up-tempo, Urban/Hip-hop songs. However, by 2004, Dion had accumulated sales of more than 175 million albums worldwide, and received the Chopard Diamond Award from the World Music Awards for her achievements. According to the official World Music Awards website, the award is rare; it's not even "presented every year" and an artist can only be presented with the award for selling "over 100 million albums during their career."