Céline Dion experienced true heartbreak when her husband of 21 years, René Angélil, died on Jan. 14, 2016 after a long battle with throat cancer, according to People. She met Angélil when she was 12 and he was 38, and he managed her career up until his health forced him to step down in 2016, The Huffington Post reported. In his absence, Dion has been forced to take her own career by the horns for the first time. Thankfully, she hasn’t done it alone.
Many were shocked when the mother of three stepped out with a handsome, much younger man named Pepe Muñoz who hails from Malaga, Spain. Sure, we’re thrilled she has found companionship, but who is this guy? The “Because You Loved Me” singer has remained coy when discussing the ins and outs of their relationship, but we’ve finally gathered up enough bits and pieces of intel about this dashing young gentleman, who seems to have the Canadian singer’s full attention. Here’s what we know about the mysterious man in Celine Dion’s life.
He was discovered on a sidewalk in Madrid
Though his Instagram account is jam-packed with his dazzling fashion illustrations, Pepe Muñoz reportedly didn’t start drawing until 2015, after the death of his grandfather. And that isn’t his only talent.
At the age of 19, he was showcasing his skills as a dancer while performing on the streets of Madrid, Spain for tips. During one of his sidewalk performances, he came in contact with an agent who immediately signed him to appear in “the Spanish production of the Broadway musical Cats,” Vogue reported. “I didn’t sing, but I said, ‘Sure,’ so I went to the audition and I got a role,” he told the publication. From that day forward, he built a solid career as a professional dancer. He went on to star in productions of Dirty Dancing, West Side Story, and Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. More importantly, his seductive moves earned him a spot on Céline Dior’s tour. More on that in a bit…
He was ‘freaking out’ when they met
It may appear that Pepe Muñoz popped into Céline Dion’s life out of nowhere, but that’s not the case at all. According to Vogue magazine, the two were introduced through “Las Vegas show folks” the singer knows “through her butler’s wife,” who just so happens to be a dancer, as well. It was Dion’s personal assistant who ultimately reached out to Muñoz, he told Vogue in a July 2017 interview. Dion was looking for a dancer to join her on tour, and Muñoz fit the bill. “I’d always been a great fan, not like a psycho fan, but I’ve always loved her music,” he told the publication.
Before they forged a friendship, Muñoz was anything but laid back in the presence of the music legend. “I’m going to be honest, I was freaking out,” he said, recalling their first meeting. “Then five minutes into it, she makes you feel welcome, like you belong to the family, and like you’re part of the group.”
‘Best friends’ who love PDA
Once the rumor mill went absolutely gaga over Céline Dion’s potential new bond with Pepe Muñoz, the press went into overdrive. “It was probably overwhelming for him at the beginning when we started working together because we were dancing together,” Dion told The Sun in January 2019. She said they “bonded” right away but insisted she’s single. “The press said, ‘Oh my God, René just passed and now there’s another man.’ Yeah, there’s another man in my life but not the man in my life.”
That’s cool and all, but do friends engage in PDA when they’re out and about? Well, if you’re Dion’s bestie, apparently so. “Of course we hug and hold hands and go out, so people see that. I mean, he’s a gentleman,” she explained. “He’s giving me his hand to go out.” Mmmhmm… When asked if it all the scuttlebutt about her dynamic with Muñoz bothers her, Dion quipped: “I don’t mind because he’s handsome and he’s my best friend.” Reflecting on some four decades in the music business, she added, “I think I’m having the best time of my life now.”
Pepe to the rescue!
Pepe Muñoz has taken on a ton of different tasks since entering the Grammy-winning singer’s life. Not only is he her trusted companion and backup dancer while on tour, but he’s on fashion patrol when he’s in her presence, as well. While attending famed designer Alexandre Vauthier’s Paris fashion show in January 2019, Dion showed up in a stunning black dress. The evening gown featured an agape, plunging keyhole at the chest and a racy, thigh-high split. With an outfit that risqué, a fashion snafu was bound to happen. Thankfully, Muñoz was there to save the day!
Us Weekly reported that when Muñoz and Dion took their seats in the FROW (front row), he “leaned over to pull the center slit of her dress in” to avoid an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. Dion reportedly “smiled and seemed to thank Muñoz,” and he snuggled up against her in return. That’s what “friends” are for!
He gave her a shoulder to cry on
There’s no doubt Céline Dion was deeply in love with her late husband, René Angélil. Following his 2016 death, Dion told CBS News that she and her husband “were one.” She noted that he was “the only man that I loved … I never kissed another man in my life.”
As she grieved the man who had shaped her entire life and career, it was Pepe Muñoz who was there for her through the tough times. “She feels he’s helped her grieve and move on after René passed in a way she never would’ve done on her own,” an insider told Closer Weekly. “She likes to tell her friends that Pepe’s her long-lost soulmate. They stay up late, they dance, they shop — they’re inseparable!” Hmm…”best friends” who are also soulmates? That does not compute in terms of the typical relationship story line, but then again, the Queen of Canada clearly knows how to shatter expectations and chart her own course.
She’s slim and trim. Thanks, Pepe?
Fans of the Canadian balladeer are accustomed to seeing her in demure gowns — or more “conservative” attire, as Céline Dion referred to her image in an interview with The Sun. However, after her husband passed away, she remerged on her Instagram account with a brand new look. We’re talking cheeky bathing suits and *gasp* cut-off denim shorts! While some were confused by her new wardrobe, others were shocked by the singer’s physical appearance — in particular, her slim frame.
It seems some of the credit regarding Dion’s shifting look can be attributed to her rumored beau. “He’s awakened something in her,” a source told Closer Weekly. “She’s always been a diva, but now she’s embracing it more and owning it. She’s taking fashion risks, and she definitely attributes the confidence and joy she feels to her friendship with Pepe.”
Dion admitted to The Sun that her changing style has been a way for her to “feel attractive,” and for anyone who has a problem with her svelte physical appearance and her bold outfits, they can kick rocks! “If I like it, I don’t want to talk about it. Don’t bother. Don’t take a picture,” she said. “If you like it, I’ll be there. If you don’t, leave me alone.”
The kids approve
René-Charles Angélil (pictured, right), Célion Dion’s eldest son, recited a “touching eulogy” during his father René Angélil’s funeral. Dion was right there, beaming with pride. “I could almost hear his knee-caps shaking,” she told People. “I was so proud of him. [René] was so proud of him.”
Dion, who also has twins Nelson and Eddy Angélil with her late husband, told The Sun that raising her children became more tricky following her husband’s passing. “Touring the world is a big deal when you have three kids and traveling becomes problematic, it’s scary sometimes,” she said. “It becomes more complex, and the grieving.”
One thing Dion doesn’t have to worry about is whether or not her children will accept her new companion, Pepe Muñoz. A source told Closer Weekly that not only do Dion’s kids “love Pepe,” but they reportedly “think he’s great for their mother.”
Her heart will go on for Rene
Céline Dion has expressed how difficult it has been to move on following the death of her husband. When asked if she’ll ever find a new love, she reportedly answered by shaking her head “forcefully,” The Sun reported. “[René Angélil’s] the love of my life. It’s very difficult for me to see myself with another person,” she said. “The love that I have for him, I live it every day. And as a woman, we do have emotions and feelings that come and go. And it’s always with him.”
Though the interview was conducted more than a year after Angélil lost his battle with throat cancer, Dion said, “When I sing, it’s with him. When I hug my kids, it’s for him and it’s with him. I took time to grieve and I’m still grievingI took time to grieve and I’m still grieving.” There is no expiration date on grieving, and it’s important that Dion do so in the manner that is best for her. We’re just happy she’s found a companion in Pepe Muñoz who brings her happiness, and we look forward to watching their unique relationship evolve.