Today on the blog we’re celebrating the life and legacy of the wonderful Whitney Houston. I spent a great deal of time reflecting on what her struggles meant to me personally in my post: Bittersweet Memories – check that out if you haven’t already. But that was kind of depressing, so let’s take a minute to talk about the voice! Possibly the greatest voice pop/soul has ever heard, there was absolutely nothing she she couldn’t do. Perfect pitch and vocal range, she could sing high, she could sing low, and even at just a whisper, Whitney’s voice was always in tune.
What I loved most about Whitney was the fact that, while she sounded phenomenal on records, she was even better live. It’s rare quality that few artists are blessed with. In that spirit, I want to share with you all my five favorite live performances of this amazingly talented woman. Throw your headphones on if you’re in the office and your boss says something just start singing at the top of your lungs. Guarantee you they’ll walk away.
5. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Live on BBC’s Top of the Pop – 1987)
Love this performance because it shows Whitney’s personality. You even see her on her MJ flow with the shoulder snap and foot kick. Also, I feel like as her career progressed, folks always wanted to highlight her voice by having her sing ballads. This is a rare live performance of something uptempo. She’s 24 years old here … wow:
4. The Greatest Love of All (Live at the Grammys 1987)
Now, this actually isn’t one of Whitney’s best vocal performances. The original version of this song was written by George Benson for himself. I think transferring his unique voice to another person is difficult and Whitney did a phenomenal job. But what I really love about this performance is Whitney’s look. Sheesh … she wore the hell out of that dress… slit down the middle thigh, big teased up 80’s hair. Reminds me of one of my mother’s friends that I used to crush on as a lil scrapper.
3. I Will Always Love You (Live at the Grammys 1994)
My favorite Whitney joint of all time. Whitney kicked off the 1994 Grammys with this classic performance. Her voice actually cracks one time in this performance – but it’s still beautiful and she still got focused and brought it on home. Bittersweet memories, that is all I am taking with me.
2. Star Spangled Banner (Superbowl XXV 1991)
Greatest performance of the Star Spangled Banner ever. The first and last Superbowl I watched with my father and the Giants won. Nothing more needs to be said.
1. I Love You Porgy/And I’m Telling You/I Have Nothing (1994 American Music Awards)
Whitney starts off with the best rendition of I Love You Porgy since Billie Holiday, then carries it into the Dream Girls classic And I’m Telling You. Every female soul singer worth her voice has to belt out And I’m Telling You, at some point in her career and Whitney does a wonderful job with it. Then she brings it home with one her most beautiful ballads I Have Nothing. This performance is absolutely, positively flawless. She shows the personality, the vocal dexterity, and most importantly the soul. Nobody did it like Whitney and for me, this was her finest moment.
Goodbye Whitney. We love you.