Whitney on tour with new style, new attitude
Singer Whitney Houston is profiled. She is currently taking the music world by storm with her first concert tour in five years.
Copyright Johnson Publishing Company Sep 1999
WITH five-octave vocals, a dazzling production and high-style dance and fashion, Whitney Houston is taking the music world by storm with her first concert tour in five years. No one is surprised by the success of the tour or the brilliance of Whitney's voice. But the divine diva is creating quite a stir around the world, and her concert tickets are in great demand.
Kicking off in Chicago, and going on to thrill sold-out
audiences in Detroit, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Memphis, Los Angeles and other major U.S.
cities, she and her entourage have crisscrossed the country and created glowing headlines
in the process. She is about to take the spectacular show to Europe, where a ticket frenzy
already is in motion. Whitney is delivering a great show and passionately demonstrating to
fans that she still has what it takes to keep an audience enthralled. She is accompanied
The couture wardrobe flatters her slim figure but does not detract from the star of the show: The Voice. That wondrous instrument, along with Whitney's strong delivery and charismatic stage presence, enthralls and enthuses the packed audiences, inspiring thunderous applause, standing ovations and shouts of approval. That voice also has sold more than 100 million records around the world and earned Houston a pedestal on top of the pop music industry.
During a day off from the tour, Whitney spends a sunny afternoon at a Connecticut restaurant with husband Bobby Brown. With braided hair swept under a scarf, she is casually dressed in knit pants and feeling good after recovering from a throat ailment that caused the cancellation of her Washington, D.C., show. The previous night she gave a glorious performance in Boston and has a couple of days off before she goes on in Hartford.
While enjoying a meal of stuffed crab, lobster, baked potato, coleslaw and fried clams ("Oh, yes, we are throwing down!"), she reveals that she has mixed emotions about the tour. "I love performing; that's what I do," she says. "I love singing and I love it with my soul. The actual touring part is a strain. If you can just keep your focus on what you really love to do and what you're out here for, it can be a joyous thing. It can feel good to you. Because you get that love that you can't get from just being in a recording studio.
"You get that love from the people. It lets me know that all the madness I go through, all the stuff that the business has to offer with all its madness; it makes it worthwhile."
Whitney adds that this time out she wanted to do theaters
rather than arenas; most of the venues have seating for 5,000 to 6,000 people. "I
wanted to be closer to the people, more intimate," she explains. "I'm a singer
and I'm an interpreter. I like for people to know what I've got on, to hear what I'm
singing . . . I wanted to play places where people could come
In fact, her last tour was five years ago in 1994. At that
time she played large arenas, and had no problem filling them up. Since then she has
toured overseas and performed at special events, in videos and on television, including
several HBO specials and the recent VHI Divas Live '99. This time out, Whitney's show is
infused with hiphop rhythms, and she appears to genuinely have fun stepping with her sassy
dancers (one of whom is sister-in-law Carolyn Brown) and pla,fully interacting with the
talented band and backup
That energy and her vibrant personality shine through in each song-the hurt lover on "Heartbreak Hotel," the streetwise Sister-friend on "In My Business," the passionate diva on "I Will Always Love You," the megahit from The Bodyguard movie soundtrack, the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time. Throughout the two-hour, 20song performance, Whitney sashays and struts, preaches and teaches, scolds and jokes.
About midway through the concert, she brings the audience
to its feet with three gospel songs, including the exhilarating "The Rock" from
The Preacher's Wife soundtrack, the bestselling gospel album in Billboard chart history,
and it is clear that this artist grew up singing in the church. During U.S. concert dates,
daughter Bobbi Kristina, age 6, joined her onstage for the reggae-flavored "My Love
Is Your Love" (written and produced by
During the interview at the restaurant, Whitney explains
that she is not pushing her daughter into show business prematurely, but that Bobbi
Kristina asked to participate and that already she is showing an inclination for
performing. "She gets her clothes ready for the show, gets her hair done," says
Mother Whitney. "She knows when it's time for her to go on. She preps herself. She's
a diva-in-training. With her little lip gloss on. Very light
Bobby, the proud father and husband, interjects, "She
has the genes of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, and it would be hard for her not to want
to be onstage, not to want to sing," he says. "I love it. She's got it and ain't
no sense in holding it back . . . And she has us to watch over her and show her exactly
what to do and what not to do. We know our mistakes. We're not going to push it
[performing] on her, but she's trying to push
Whitney grew up singing in a Baptist church in Newark, N.J., mentored by her mother, gospel and RB singer Cissy Houston (who at times joins Whitney on the tour). With the release of her first album on Arista in 1985, Whitney sang her way to the top of the charts and into the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Bobby also started performing as a youngster. He was a member of the very successful teen group New Edition, and then went on to release several solo albums. The couple married in 1992.
After the U.S. portion of the tour concludes this fall, Whitney will head to Europe where she will continue to perform. Although her daughter traveled with her, Krissy must remain at home this fall so that she can start first grade. Leaving her daughter thousands of miles behind will be difficult, says Whitney, who has become quite adept at juggling the duties of motherhood and marriage with her career.
And the confident Sister-diva continues to ignore
naysayers who have been critical of her union with Brown since before they even got
married. "They say nay, I say yeah," Whitney says in between bites of
lobster. "I'm still married, and I'm still in love. We're still in love, and if
nobody understands that, I'm sorry. There is a thing called love. Everybody knows about
it. You get it or don't get it. I don't care anymore. It doesn't matter. We
Bobby chimes in, "All I can say is that they don't
live with us; they never have," he says of critics. "Obviously they don't know
love because if they knew love, they could look in our eyes and tell, without even reading
the paper or listening to the tabloids or thinking about things that have happened
personally with us. I think just our eyes tell it. Our actions speak louder than words.
Judge us on that. Don't judge us on what you read. A lot of
"If they, the naysayers, would just do that, then I
promise they'll get more music from her, they'll get more movies from us, they'll get
eventhing they deserve. But it just takes them to back off and give us our space. Stop
being cruel . . . It's our prerogative to love each other," he says, using a play on
the titles of two of his most popular songs. "We can put
During lunch, Bobby comments that his wife looks younger
and prettier each year. When asked if she's been working out to keep her tall, slender
frame trim, Whitney says no, that she simply is blessed with good metabolism. "If I
pass 130 pounds, I feel heavy," she explains. "I can't breathe properly when I'm
singing. I like to be at 125 to 128 pounds; more than that is not good for me. But I eat
bread, which is my weakness. I love bread. Right
My metabolism just burns it off pretty good."
And Whitney is not idle long enough for the pounds to
creep up on her. In recent years, she has starred in several successful movies, including
Waiting To Exhale, The Bodyguard and The Preacher's Wife. The soundtracks from each of
those movies also have zoomed to the top of the music charts. In fact, her new CD, My Love
Is Your Love (5 million copies sold), is the first recording she has released in eight
years that is not tied to a movie
"How proud I am of my Sisters, of our geniuses,"
Whitney says of Hill and Elliott. "They are the products of our mamas of America, the
ones who raised these ladies with goals set high and with no limit. There is no limit now.
They write; they produce. There was a time when we women were limited in a lot of areas.
But we have come up and stood alongside our Brothers who are geniuses and who are
successful. Women do a lot of hard work and a lot of preparation to get to where we are,
so we can stand strong with
After she concludes the international leg of her tour,
Whitney will return home to New Jersey and put the finishing touches on a greatest hits
recording. A romantic comedy movie project for which she is collaborating with Will
Smith is in final rewrite, and she hopes to start filming next spring. In addition, she
says that she and Bobby are commissioned to do another project for Disney. Their
Brownhouse production company co-produced the successful Cinderella television movie that
starred Whitney and Brandy.
This talented couple have a lot on their plates, but they
also have a lot of love, confidence and faith. "It is wellknown that I depend on my
faith," says Whitney when asked about the secret to her phenomenal success. "My
faith makes me determined to keep going because, as you know, the opposers can discourage
you. But God is an encouragement, and once you know Him, nothing that the devil or anybody
can put against you will work. For if God is for you, no man can be against you. I know
this for a fact. This
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