Celine Dion championing children in "A Home for the Holidays" special

Celine Dion -- if she has a hallmark -- it's that she sings with her heart on her sleeve. And when it comes to children, even more so.

During the taping of Wednesday's CBS special, "A Home for the Holidays"  -- surrounded by foster children from all over the country -- Celine moved even herself to tears.

Dion said, "It didn't take, I mean. I was trying not to look, but I was feeling all the children around the stage, and I didn't want to cry. When a child is hoping for a dad or a mom -- that is not acceptable."

The five-time Grammy winner has spent much of her life championing the cause of children. It started long before she was a superstar, when her niece Karine died at only 16 from cystic fibrosis.

"I could feel her organs leaving, one after the other," Dion said. "And I started to sing to her very softly. And I saw a tear coming from her eyes. And she left. We all knew that she was going to die, but the good thing is we were all together."

Since then, her Celine Dion Foundation has focused on helping other sick children feel less alone. She connects with many of them personally. Dion said of one of those experiences, "I take the phone, most of the time, the person cannot talk, and, for me, not even knowing that person, I say, 'I know you can hear me very well. I'm Celine Dion, I just talked to your mom. I just want you to know that tonight I'm gonna be performing and I'm gonna think of you a lot.'"

It took a long time for Celine Dion to have a family of her own.  All her children are the result of in vitro fertilization treatments with her longtime husband and manager Rene Angelil. Rene Charles is now 12 -- and their twins, Nelson and Eddie, are 3 years old.

Lee Cowan asked Dion: "So how do you think being a mom has -- obviously it's changed a lot personally in your life -- but how do you think it's changed you professionally?

"It's the whole purpose of my career," Dion said. "I mean, everything has changed in my life because of me being a mother. Nothing will ever beat the fact that the real, true values are waiting for me at my house, in my heart."

It's all helped inspire her first English album in six years -- "Loved Me Back to Life" -- where, for the first time, she collaborated with R&B stars, such as Grammy winner Ne-Yo.

Cowan said, "As the queen of the power ballad, this is a very different sound for you though. But it's not a reinvention you said..."

Dion replied, "No, correct. I appreciate you saying that. I don't think I want to try to reinvent myself."

If it's not a re-invention. It is a little less grand, a little more grit. Dion said, "Instead of heaving the heart, it was more like the soul. Trying a little less."

But it's motherhood -- not music -- that gives her the greatest joy these days. She said of her children, "There's no way for me to ever think that I can do my passion without them. It starts there."

On Wednesday night, while raising awareness of the some 400,000 foster kids nationwide who are hoping for a home this holiday, she's reminded -- fame and fortune aside -- just how lucky she has been.

"I thought I had it all," she said. "I thought I met love. I thought I was at the maximum of my what I could achieve in my life. I can say to you that I have a life. I had a career. And now I have a life."

It is a life as moving off stage as on.

You can watch "A Home for the Holidays" Wednesday on CBS at 8/7c.

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