We have to be totally honest, we still haven’t fully come to grips with the tragic death of Whitney Houston earlier this year. There’s still a tiny part of us that refuses to believe that we’ll never hear her heavenly voice sing another new song, even though we know that to be the case. On top of that, we still have a bad taste in our mouths about the way that the Grammys failed honor Whitney’s memory in the way that she deserved. Thankfully, this year’s VH1 DIVAS program will remedy all that.
We just got wind of a few details about this year’s program, and although details are scant, we wanted to share with you what we’ve heard so far. Namely, that this year’s VH1 Divas — which will air live from Los Angeles in December — will be framed as a salute to the musical legacy of Whitney Houston. Of course, Whitney had appeared on three prior telecasts of VH1 DIVAS, back in 1999, 2002 and 2003 — you can watch her performance of “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” from the 1999 show below! Additionally, Rickey Minor —who worked with Whitney for a number of years— will be the evening’s musical director. We don’t have any other concrete details to share with you at this moment, but as soon as those deets become available, you can bet you’ll hear them here first!
A pleasant surprise in the form of Alicia Keys graced the stage at MTV’s annual Upfront in NYC on Thursday night at the Beacon Theater. The 14-time GRAMMY award winning singer debuted a new ballad, “Not Even the King,” in which she belted out a soft melody over the piano about people that “can’t afford what we got, not even the King.”
Since Keys and hubby super producer Swizz Beats had baby Egypt Daoud Dean in October 2010, Keys has (mostly) been basking in mommyhood. Its been almost three years since her last album The Element of Freedom dropped, and Keys’ last performance was an emotion-filled tribute at the funeral of her friend Whitney Houston. Many criticized her voice for being off key that day (no pun intended), but her performance last night proves she’s still got the chops. We’re unsure if “Not Even the King” is from her forthcoming album, but either way, it looks like she might be ready to get back into the studio. Read more…
In a performance that could melt the heart of even the biggest talent show skeptic, Jessica Sanchez bought America to it’s knees last night with her rendition of Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You” on Idol. Jessica’s version of the song was a seamless tribute to the original, and she hit every note with such grace and ease it was hard not to get a little misty eyed as she memorialized the late, great legend with one of the most moving covers we’ve ever heard. And we weren’t the only ones — all three judges were completely ecstatic, and both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler seemed to have shed a tear or two during the stirring performance. Randy Jackson proclaimed, “Give it all to her! Jessica Sanchez is legit… This is one of the best talents in the whole country!” Jenny was equally gushing, but it was Steven who said what we were all thinking, “Jessica, you may be The One. You just made 40 million people cry.”
Rihanna Is Being Considered To Play Whitney Houston In A Biopic About The Singer’s Life
Apparently a biopic about Whitney Houston‘s life is in the works, a mere week after the late legend was buried. Reportedly, Rihanna is a candidate to play the role, although some of the parallels in the two performers’ lives (can anyone say abuse at the hand of a man named Brown?) hit a little bit too close to home for our liking. [Pop Dust]
Azealia Banks Reveals Details Of Debut Album Azealia Banks‘ debut album will be called Broke With Expensive Taste and it will be out this September. She said, “I’m not trying to withdraw, but I am trying to find that personal space again because I have an album to finish… All the praise from the fashion world is great but now everybody wants a piece and everybody wants an interview, but I need to step away and get my music done.” We can’t wait! [Pitchfork]
Robin Thicke has paid heartfelt tribute to Whitney Houston by covering her beautiful 1995 song, “Exhale (Shoop, Shoop)”. His soft, gentle vocal compliments the track perfectly, and the stripped back arrangement gives the song an utter poignancy that will bring a tear to your eye. “Exhale” was the late Houston’s 11th number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and was awarded a Grammy in 1997 for Best R&B Song. The heart wrenching cover will have you grabbing for the Kleenex as the subject matter — inspiring yourself to push on despite hurt or disappointment — resonates with the ultimate tragedy of Houston’s early passing. Robin himself Tweeted of the track:
And what a moving tribute. Robin’s vocals bring out a sense of nostalgia and whimsy, in a respect filled ode to the musical great.
Over the weekend Bobby Brown controversially left the funeral of his late ex-wife, Whitney Houston. The debacle unfolded after Brown entered the church where the funeral was taking place with three other people, including his current wife, and was then forced to move seats several times by security. The LA Times reported that CNN journalist Raelyn Johnson (allegedly the only journalist inside the church), said that Brown “was not the only celebrity who had musical chairs going on,” and that “no one on the inside of that church knew that Bobby Brown was having any sort of drama.” Johnson said that Brown “was not singled out,” and that many VIP guests were moved around inside the church in accordance with Baptist traditional funeral protocols, which strictly say that those wishing to sit in the first few rows with the family must enter with the casket, or with the family if the casket is already in place, which Brown failed to do.
However, the confusion with the seating arrangement upset the bereaved Brown, who felt he was treated differently to other guests, and he issued a statement saying, “My children and I were invited to the funeral of my ex-wife Whitney Houston. We were seated by security and then subsequently asked to move on three separate occasions. I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continued to ask us and no one else to move. Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi Kristina. In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene… I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how.” The distraught Brown then went on to play a concert with New Edition later that night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut during which, according to the Huffington Post, he pointed a finger skyward and said “Blessings to my ex-wife, Whitney Houston. I love you.”
UPDATE (4:12 p.m.): Whitney Houston’s “Going Home” funeral service this afternoon, held at Newark, NJ’s New Hope Baptist Church, was a largely celebratory affair that lasted nearly four hours. There were a number of emotion-soaked moments — Alicia Keys’ performance, Kevin Costner’s eulogy — but the crowd at today’s service seemed to want to concentrate more on celebrating Whitney’s tremendous life than mourning her untimely loss one week ago today at the age of 48. When Whitney’s casket was carried out of the church today, “I Will Always Love You” rang out.
The day’s most controversial moment came 24 minutes into the service, which began at noon EST, when ABC News reported that Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown, left the funeral and church unexpectedly. TMZ is reporting that Brown was asked to leave by Houston’s family due to a seating dispute; Bobby wanted to bring nine people into the service with him, but his invitation was only good for two people.
In an unrelated incident, Aretha Franklin did not perform today as originally expected;
I’ve been on television a few times this week discussing the many chart and sales records held by the late Whitney Houston. There is no denying that numerical accolades help define an artist’s legacy, but so does the way their music affects people as they go about their every day lives. Here are five Whitney Houston songs that are significant in my musical journey:
5. “Million Dollar Bill”
Though I’ve been introducing music videos on television for over 10 years, up until a couple years ago I had never introduced a clip from Whitney Houston (my past VJ duties were mostly in the genre of rock). When Houston released I Look To You in 2009, her music video, “Million Dollar Bill,” was featured on the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown. I remember giving Whitney an abundance of praise, although at the time it was popular to take jabs at her “train-wreck” lifestyle. A rep from Houston’s record label got in contact with me the following week and complimented my segment. I’m proud of the fact that I never took a cheap shot at either Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston during my time on television. When you get to their level, there is a certain amount of respect that’s earned, no matter what may unfold in their private lives.
4. “I Will Always Love You”
Though pop music was not my genre of choice in the ‘90s — especially since there was a band called Nirvana making its mark on pop-culture — I still wasn’t able to ignore the greatness of “I Will Always Love You.” As I entered college, I found it a testament to Houston’s one-of-a-kind voice, that many jocks, college-radio geeks, and hip-hop diehards proudly had The Bodyguard soundtrack on display in their dormitory CD racks.
Unsurprisingly, Whitney Houston‘s untimely death last weekend has lead to a surge in album sales for the legendary performer, with her Greatest Hits compilation selling enough copies in just one day to steamroll the charts and land itself at number six on the Billboard 200 Album chart. Except that Billboard doesn’t acknowledge the would-be chart topper because of its age, so despite killer sales, the album wont actually appear on the chart. Selling 63,853 copies in one day, the album did make it to number one on Billboard’s Catalogue Album list (with her self-titled debut album making it to number five, also on this list), so the soaring sales haven’t gone entirely without recognition.
To put Houston’s posthumous sales in perspective, NY Daily News compares her numbers to Paul McCartney‘s Kisses On The Bottom, which sold 74,100 copies to debut at number five on the Billboard 200 chart. But McCartney had a full week to amass these numbers — Houston’s last minute sales bump was the product of one day, as Sunday night is the cutoff for Nielsen SoundScan’s stats, and we tragically lost Houston on the Saturday night. It’s expected that these big sales will just keep growing for the late Houston over the next week as fans continue to grieve and show support.
The VH1 News special Whitney Houston: Death Of A Diva premieres on VH1 tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and will repeat again at 9:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. The 30-minute program will honor the life and times of Whitney Houston, and feature the latest updates on events surrounding her death, plus reactions from attendees at her mentor music mogul Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy Awards music industry party on Saturday night (like L.A. Reid). Additionally, there will be tributes from officials, her peers (like Kelly Price), record executives and fans, as well as some previously unseen interview footage with Whitney Houston herself.
In the clip we have for you above, which was shot back in 2010 as part of the Jennifer Hudson episode of Behind The Music, Whitney discusses how she almost didn’t record the song “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” because she “hated” it. Ultimately, her mentor Clive Davis was able to convince her of the song’s merits, a track that would go on to be her seventh consecutive #1 single, a record that still stands to this day.