The Voice. The one who reminds us it's not right, but it's okay. The one who wanted to dance with somebody. Yep, we're talking about Ms. Whitney "I Will Always Love You" Houston. The pop star might have moved on to that great performance hall in the sky, but her music and influence are still very much with us, and this week will prove no different. The biggest hits of Houston's heyday will be played full throttle in The Greatest Love of All: A Tribute to Whitney Houston at Miller Outdoor Theatre on September 13 and 14.
From the moment she opened her lips and gave the world her glorious voice, we were molly whopped by her presence. When someone comes along who has that same star quality, it merits attention, which has landed velvet-voiced chanteuse Belinda Davids on our radar. She'll be providing the vocals for Ms. Houston's body of work, along with the accompaniment of a live band. Backing vocalists and choreographed dancers, plus state-of-the-art sound, lighting, vision and a swath of delicately hand-crafted gowns and costumes are all part of the performance too.
Living up to the diva's status is no easy chore, but Davids is up for the task, and she's got the receipts to prove it.
"It’s incredibly challenging because she had so much range," Davids said about performing Houston's songs. "For me, because I’ve been doing these songs for so long, I think that my muscles have become used to doing it. The love I have for her and her music, it’s a complete honor for me to do these songs."
Houston's music career brought her seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits and earned her status as the first female artist to enter the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 1. She recorded some of the most memorable songs that are still revered to this day - so many so that it's hard to pick just one stand out or favorite moment.
Davids says, "There’s no favorite. I really enjoy doing 'The Greatest Love Of All,' but then I think of 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go.' There are so many great ones."
With such great talent, Ms. Houston almost had it all; however, her life was tragically speckled with personal grief. There was her roller coaster marriage to Bobby Brown, her alleged drug use and the constant pressure to live up to celebrity life. It came crashing down with her death in February 2012, just as her career was starting to make a resurgence.
Davids, too, feels the pressure of being a performer, but she says that when she steps off the stage, she turns off the lights and gives it a rest.
"You have to learn how to separate the two: stage life from personal life. The show has been doing really well and been successful, but at the end of the day, when I’m home, I'm all the way home," she said. "My kids, they see me and they want to see Mommy. I’ve done well with keeping the two separate."
The work to keep up with Ms. Houston's songbook, though, has been worth it, and it has taken her across the globe.
"It’s taken me everywhere," Davids says, while rattling off some of the places she's performed the show. "Dubai, Scandinavia, Russia, Tel Aviv. It’s incredible to see how much people love her and want to be there and sing along to every song."
With the universal love of Ms. Houston, it's not hard to imagine the performances would be successful. All good things, though, must come to an end, and this megawatt show will eventually draw to a close.
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"I can’t do Whitney Houston forever. There will be a time for my career to change. I have been working on my record, and that will be the next thing for my career. It will be a mix between urban and pop," Davids said.
From living up to the Herculean task of performing Houston's music each night, we can understand the much needed moment to breathe and relax. She hasn't planned a release date in order to keep the pressure off herself and to stay focused on her current gig.
While we wait with baited breath for Davids' upcoming album, we can still count on at least two nights of Whitney Houston's biggest hits performed at a price that can't be beat. Tickets are free, and seating on the hill is always open to the public.
The Greatest Love of All: A Tribute to Whitney Houston, presented by H-E-B, takes place 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.