I was never one of Whitney Houston’s rabid fans. As beautiful as her voice was, I often thought there was an emotional disconnect between her technically stunning vocal performances and the lyrics to her songs. I rarely thought she really believed what she was singing, so she rarely really moved me.
That said, Houston was “the voice” to a generation, and since her untimely death in 2012 at the age of 48, I’ve held onto every hope that her legacy would extend far beyond her woefully misguided reality TV show (“Bob-aaaaaaaay!”) and more often than not off-the-rails media interviews (“Crack is whack!”)
Last year, at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, California, I realized I may have missed out on a good thing by not having caught Houston live while she was, well, alive. South African singer Belinda Davids brought the house down, over and over again, in a stunning show that’s a loving tribute to the late singer. Davids affirmed that Houston’s legacy deserves to be preserved.
And without a doubt, Houston deserves better than a creepy hologram tour. But that’s what fans are getting.
“An Evening With Whitney: The Hologram Tour” will present a computer generated facsimile of Houston along with vocal tracks of the singer performing all of her hits, including “I Will Always Love You,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), and “Greatest Love Of All,” backed by live musicians, back-up singers, and dancers.
Those dancers will be directed by choreographer Fatima Robinson, who did her best to convince audiences that Houston could dance while she was alive, and has worked with everyone from Rihanna to Kanye.
“Whitney was a musical trailblazer and I’m extremely honored to have this opportunity to help craft this show in her honor,” Robinson said in a statement.
No disrespect to the acclaimed choreographer, but Robinson should be ashamed of herself.
So should Houston’s sister-in-law Pat Houston, who is the executor of Houston’s estate and one of the architects of this holographic nightmare. She’s praised the “show” as an “authentic Whitney experience.”
“A hologram show is all about the imagination and creating a ‘wow factor’ that extends to an incredible experience to enjoy for years to come,” she said in a statement.
No it’s not, Pat. A hologram tour is nothing but a cash grab, one in which neither Whitney nor her late daughter, Bobbi Kristina, will ever benefit. Just as you did in life, you’re sucking Houston dry.
If we want video images of Nippy (as she was known to friends and family) in her glory days, we already have access to them. It’s not called a hologram tour: it’s called YouTube.
“Whitney is not with us but her music will live with us forever,” Pat continued in the statement.
To that, I wholeheartedly agree. I’m listening to Whitney Houston’s biggest hits as I write this, and have had to repeatedly pause as I’m pummeled by the singer’s pipes.
Maybe I was a little hard on Houston for all of those years, insisting she was incapable of delivering a lyric. Right now in my AirPods, Whitney Houston circa 1987 is lamenting a broken heart, asking a set of questions that would be fairly benign coming from the mouth of a lesser singer:
Where do broken hearts go?
Can they find their way home
Back to the open arms of a love that’s waiting there?
And if somebody loves you
Won’t they always love you?
I look in your eyes, and I know that you still care for me
You’re right, Whitney. We still care for you. Hell, as you sang a couple of years later, we will always love you…and we’ll continue to love you enough to bypass an ill-conceived, tone-deaf hologram tour, keep our earbuds in and dance with you, to the extent that you could, bless your I’m Your Baby Tonight, two left-footed heart.
But there’s good news for anyone who really wants the next best thing to a Whitney Houston concert. Belinda Davids is bringing her stunning show back to the Sacramento area, (September 24 and 25 at the Harris Center in Folsom). Trust me: Davids will blow you away,
And Whitney Houston would be proud of her.