Taylor Swift and Céline Dion make up backstage after awkward Grammy handoff

Taylor Swift, right, hugs and smiles with singer Celine Dion
Céline Dion and Taylor Swift put to rest Grammys chatter about Swift's apparent onstage snub with a loving photo backstage. (Kevin Mazur / Getty Images)

Céline Dion made a rare public appearance Sunday when she took the stage at the 66th Grammy Awards to present the ceremony's top prize to Taylor Swift, who many believed snubbed Dion when she accepted the night's final award.

The "My Heart Will Go On" and "The Power of Love" singer was greeted by a standing ovation when she emerged on the Arena stage to present the prize for album of the year — the ceremony's final award.

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Dion's surprise appearance was a welcome sight during a marquee night for women, but it also came more than a year after she publicly shared that she had been diagnosed with stiff-person syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that prevents her from singing in her usual way. The disease also resulted in her canceling her 2024 Courage World Tour dates because of her continuing health concerns.

While the five-time Grammy winner has shared periodic health updates, in December her sister Claudette Dion made it sound as if the singer's condition had become more dire, telling Canadian media that the Grammy winner “doesn’t have control of her muscles" and that "there are some who have lost hope." This was after Dion in November made her first public appearance in more than three years to attend a hockey game in Las Vegas.

Dion still aspired to return to the stage though, and on Sunday, she did just that — although in a different capacity — with her signature poise.

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“When I say that I’m happy to be here, I really mean it from my heart," the "It's All Coming Back to Me" singer said before presenting the award. “Those who have been blessed enough to be here at the Grammy Awards must never take for granted the tremendous love and joy that music brings to our lives and to people all around the world.”

Celine Dion appears onstage at the 2024 Grammy Awards
Celine Dion at the 66th Grammy Awards held at the Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 4. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

The emotional moment capped a night full of poignant duets and plenty of surprises (including an album announcement from Swift). But, as many viewers noted, Dion's triumphant return appeared to be eclipsed by the evening's other shining star.

After Dion, 55, announced Swift, 34, and her "Midnights" as album of the year, viewers took to social media to lament Swift's apparent disrespect of the French-Canadian singer. As Swift hurried to the stage with producer Jack Antonoff and collaborator Lana Del Rey, viewers noted that she barely made eye contact with Dion when she excitedly took the award. Nor did she mention Dion's trailblazing career in her speech the way Miley Cyrus had when accepting an award from Mariah Carey earlier in the ceremony. Instead, Swift honored Antonoff and Del Rey and the team behind "Midnights."

“I get to work with one of my best friends, who is not only one of my best friends but also a once-in-a-generation producer; that’s Jack Antonoff,” Swift said. “I’m so lucky.”

“So many female artists would not be where they are and would not have the inspiration that they have if not for the work that she’s done,” she said of Del Rey. “I think she’s a legacy artist, a legend in her prime right now.”

But that didn't sit well with those waiting for acknowledgment of Dion.

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"#TaylorSwift didn't just walk up there and snub #CelineDion, did she? I feel a certain way, I believe Celine paved the way for you, little girl. #GRAMMYs2024," wrote X user @FalconEric012.

"Ok….I love #TaylorSwift just as much as the next, but that snub to music royalty #CelineDion was so distasteful. Taylor didn’t even make eye contact with Celine when she grabbed the Grammy…gross… This was next level #GRAMMYs #TaylorSwift," tweeted @Harishkumar880

The debate raged on in the comments section of a TikTok video that asked, "Did Taylor snub Celine Dion?"

"Like.. yes you’re Taylor swift but that’s CELINE DION," one user commented.

"completely ignored her," added another.

"I started to cry when I saw Celine…Taylor should have acknowledged her," commented another.

"Now Taylor ...just know if we had to make choice it will ALWAYS be Celine!!!" another wrote.

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Loyal fans came to Swift's defense, arguing that she was likely overwhelmed by the historic moment. She had just made Grammy history by being the first person to win the album of the year prize four times, breaking a record shared by Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.

Incidentally, Dion presented Swift with the artist of the year prize at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards and the two hugged it out then. Others rebutted by pointing out that Swift was shown during the Grammys telecast enthusiastically singing along to Dion's "I'm Your Lady," which played as the latter took the stage. Then, Internet sleuths quickly pounced on evidence of mutual love, asserting that all was well between the two powerhouses when they were photographed hugging backstage and posing alongside Dion's son Rene-Charles Angelil.

A spokesperson for Swift did not immediately respond Monday to The Times' request for comment.

Indeed, plenty at the Grammys revolved around Swift and she likely knew it. The "Anti-Hero" singer even appeared prepared for the latest round of awards-show chatter hinged on her reaction shots. She toted a black "Reputation"-coded fan to shield her face from lip readers, sang and danced along to the performances (she also got a shout-out in SZA's acceptance speech) and laughed at NFL jokes made by host Trevor Noah this time — a far cry from her tense appearance at the Golden Globe Awards last month.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.