In every generation there is a singer who defines it. Judy Garland defined hers. On the other side of the Atlantic Edith Piaf did the same. Barbra Streisand ruled hers. And Whitney Houston without question commanded hers.
Though the final years of her career were clouded by scandal and gossip, there is no denying that, for a moment in time, the late Whitney Houston stood at the apex of the music industry, delivering bravura performances every time she stepped onto stage to sing one of the steady stream of classic hits that would become the anthems of an epoch. In her all too brief career, in which she recorded far less than her contemporaries, Houston managed to move more records, score more number one hits and rack up more awards and accolades than even her closest competition. She was, in short, the diva’s diva and her voice is one that is sorely missed. At no point is this fact more apparent than on the new release of Houston’s first live album, curated by her mentor, the equally legendary Clive Davis.
Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances pays tribute to the musical legacy of Whitney Houston with a chronological look back at the rise of an icon. From her earliest performance on The Merv Griffin Show as a 19-year old unknown in 1983 to her triumphant comeback performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009 the new live CD/DVD is a powerful reminder of that special quality that compelled us all to love Whitney Houston. The live CD is a treat, but the live DVD is the real prize in this collection because it not only recalls Houston’s prodigious vocal talent but also the grace and poise that made her a star. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I had seen many of the performances in this collection at various points throughout the years but watching them all back to back and in the process, following the 26-year arc of a musical career whose like was unparalleled…well that just gave me chills. Whatever Houston’s personal trials, this collection celebrates the star by bringing the focus back to the music which is what truly defined one of the greatest singers and personalities of our time.
Houston was so consistently brilliant for so long, I fear that, despite the near constant waves of praise that followed her everywhere she went, many of us took her talent for granted. I’m not even sure we fully appreciated that seeing Whitney Houston in her prime was like seeing greatness personified. However after Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances that will no doubt no longer be the case. It will instead, now be settled history.
Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances is available now. Click here to purchase on Amazon.