Celine Dion and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli reunited to sing their hit duet “The Prayer” in a moving live rendition in Central Park, New York. There was a ridiculous amount of vocal firepower onstage, with both flawlessly nailing their parts, as you’d expect when the Queen of Power Ballads and the Italian superstar collab.
The performance took place shortly after the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, and Bocelli dedicated the song to the Hollywood icon. The chemistry between the two singers onstage caught the ear of quite a few music fans, and the video has been viewed 199 million times, making it the second most popular on Bocelli’s YouTube channel.
The main songwriter, David Foster, introduced “The Prayer” on behalf of Bocelli, who modestly said his English wasn’t up to task. The Canadian composer said, “Andrea and Elizabeth Taylor had a great love affair together, although not literally,” getting a laugh from the crowd. He continued, “Elizabeth had such great love for Andrea, and he wanted to dedicate this song in her memory this evening.”
It’s not the first time Dion has performed the song with a big name, as in addition to many performances with Bocelli, she also performed the song live with Josh Groban in Los Angeles, which you can watch below. The pair re-released “The Prayer” as a duet in 2008, making the song re-enter the US and Canadian charts.
Groban’s connection to the song goes way back to the time of the original release and is also connected to David Foster. In 1998, the composer suggested Groban, who was still a 17-year-old high school student, stand in for an ill Bocelli for rehearsals with Dion for a performance of “The Prayer” at the Grammy Awards. The younger American singer does a great job, although it’s pretty hard to compete with Bocelli, who Foster has said on numerous occasions has “the most beautiful voice in the world.”.
Elizabeth Taylor also has a long-running connection to the song as a fan of Bocelli. Taylor has made several headlines over the years by making rare public appearances to see Bocelli live. Even when battling illness and being wheelchair-bound at age 77, she still made time to see him at the Hollywood Bowl.
Taylor’s connection with “The Prayer” goes back to the original release of the song in 1999. The movie star made a point of calling famous gossip columnist Liz Smith to tell her about “The Prayer,” saying, “This is such a powerful, wonderful song. It deserves an Oscar nomination!”
While “The Prayer” didn’t win Best Original Song at the Oscars, it did win that category at the Golden Globes, as well as being nominated at the Academy Awards and Grammy Awards. The Dion and Bocelli duet was a big critical success and topped the US Classical chart, although it failed to chart on the Billboard Top 100. The Dion and Groban versions, however, did make it, peaking at #70 on the Top 100.