"René got me here," Céline Dion says of her Billboard Music Awards appearance
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Céline Dion says her son’s presence at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards made receiving the Icon Award that much more special.

The singer, 48, tells PEOPLE she tried to keep her composure during her appearance at the award show, but couldn’t help but let the tears flow when she saw her son René-Charles on stage.

“They said, ‘To present the award, here’s your son’ and [it] cut my heart to pieces. [It] really did,” Dion said backstage.

The singer became emotional when accepting the Icon Award alongside René-Charles and gripped her 15-year-old son’s hand as she thanked her fans, her children and her late husband, René Angélil.

It’s been months since Angélil lost his battle with cancer, and Dion says her appearance at the award show was an important stepping stone for her.

“A couple of days ago I was thinking, ‘It’s unfortunate my husband is not here physically,’ but at the same time, there’s no point for me to talk this way – it’s not going to change anything,” Dion tells PEOPLE.

“I’ve never been in the business to win or to be nominated they want to give me this award, I will accept it because René got me here.”

Dion recently opened up about the death of her husband in PEOPLE’s latest cover story.

Just before her speech, Dion performed a jaw-dropping rendition of Queen’s 1991 hit, “The Show Must Go On,” – Dion says the song was Angélil’s favorite.

She says that although show business has not always been kind to her, she credits Angélil for a measure of her success.

“Honestly, my husband got me here 30-something years later. I accepted that award for him. I sang that song for him,” she says.

“My son came to represent him, his brothers and me, and love is stronger than show business.”

She adds: “Love won tonight.”