With Céline Dion cover, Gabonese teen becomes a star – and wows his idol


It took just a few days to make 17-year-old Samuel a star in Gabon, thanks to his version of "The Power of Love", one of Célion Dion's biggest hits. He didn't realise it, but a neighbour was filming him as he performed his a cappella interpretation in the stairwell of his building. The video went viral on social media. Several fan groups quickly formed – and Céline Dion herself praised him on her Facebook page!

The video is a major hit: in less than a week, it has been watched more than two million times.

"I didn't even ask Samuel his permission"

Barack Nyare Mba, the blogger who posted the video online, was himself surprised it made such a buzz.

As a blogger, I post content on my Facebook wall pretty regularly, but this is the first time one of my posts has circulated so much. In two days, I got 400 new friend requests. The video was given to me by a friend who lives in the same building as Samuel.

I didn't even ask Samuel his permission. I didn't know him... In general, posts that work well are the ones related to politics or some human rights abuse. I didn't think this one would be so popular.

I went to meet him and his family this week. They were very surprised by what I'd done but happy for their son, who's getting lots of serious offers from producers and TV-talent-show organisers from Gabon and elsewhere.

Now I'm overseeing Samuel's fan groups on Facebook and WhatsApp. Soon we'll be posting new videos – lots of fans are asking for one.

Samuel's second video, also shared by blogger Barack Nyare Mba. This time, he knew he was being filmed!

"My dream? To meet Céline Dion"

Samuel, a shy teenager who lives with his parents in Libreville, left high school in December 2015 to devote himself entirely to music. He's astonished by all the excitement over his performance.

I'd never seen the video before it went viral. I didn't think someone would post it on social media.

On the one hand, I'm really happy and moved. I want to make music my life, but until now I'd never had any support for that. Even my parents weren't really always on board. But the day after the video was posted, I got a call from a producer who wants to help me get my start.

On the other hand, I have to admit I'm really scared. Where I live in Libreville, people recognise me in the street and want to come say hi to me now. It's a bit overwhelming, I really don't know how to handle it. And other producers are trying to get in touch with me now, to find out where I live and come talk with me. I feel a bit like a wanted criminal!

I want to travel now. I'd really like to go to France or Canada, to start my career there. My dream? Meet Céline Dion, at least once in my life.

His dream might not be so far off. On Tuesday – several days after a first version of this article appeared on the France 24 Observers’ French website – the Canadian singer posted this message on her Facebook page (her French message is followed by a translation in English):