She used to be a bright shining star so high up in the sky that practically no one could touch Whitney Houston. With a voice that could go where few singers have ever gone before, she has sold over 170 million records worldwide. The protege introduced to the world by Arista label king Clive Davis is encountering a major vocal crisis and perhaps in the fight of her life to save her career.
Houston started on the comeback trail in April, 2008, with an appearance at the Trinidad-Tobago Jazz Festival where her performance fell flat, as she battled hoarseness in her voice, according to USA Today. She released her first album in seven years, “I Look To You,” August 31, 2009, to many anxious and awaiting fans. Her first big promotion of the album came on September 1, a concert in New York’s Central Park, aired by Good Morning America.
What was suppose to be an opportunity turned to disaster, as the Daily News reported that Houston lost her voice during the show, blaming it on an appearance on the Oprah show and over-use of her vocal chords. One fan complained: “She couldn’t sing. She was really damaged.”
A couple of mediocre dates in the U.K. on the talent show “The X Factor,” in October, 2009, and the American Music Awards in November, were received with not-so-favorable reviews. Questions about Houston’s health failed to open the diva’s eyes to what was painfully apparent to her audiences and fans, alike–something was awry.
Time to Tour?
Nevertheless, Houston pressed on with concert dates in Australia and Europe. She didn’t fare any better in Australia. Popeater.com stated that the 46-year-old songstress took a break after just two numbers in Brisbane. Barely getting through the night, she sent brother Gary out to entertain the disappointed fans. Speculation about Houston’s health and drug problems started to re-surface in the “Land Down Under,” where some were calling it a train wreck. (Click here to see video).
The Sydney Morning Herald published more revealing headlines, “Diva wins battle but loses wail.” They noted, “Cracks appeared in her voice, often turning to croaks.”
Beatcrave.com reported that on April 7, the siren was hospitalized in Paris for a respiratory infection, canceling a gig in the capital city. The horror show continued throughout the U.K., in Birmingham, Glasgow, and Dublin. Dates in Manchester and Glasgow were also re-scheduled, according to the Daily Mail. (Click here for Houston’s tour itinerary after Paris cancellation).
Finally arriving in London, Billboard.com (see video of Houston’s performance), reported that her April 25 sold-out concert at the O2 Arena was a disaster. Failing to hit high notes, fans abruptly walked out during her delivery of “I Will Always Love You.” The London Evening Standard was more direct in their account of the evening, stating, “”Where she once soared, now she wheezes and croaks…” As they put it, her voice was “utterly torn to shreds.”
In attempts to squelch the growing rumors and accusations of what many perceive to be underlying issues, Billboard says that Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster denied any health problems. USA Today goes on to say that Houston’s record label, Sony BMG, had no response to request for an interview.
Amidst all the hoopla and unfortunate chain of events for Houston, what can this 25-year music veteran who descended from entertainment royalty, (Cissy Houston is mom, Dionne Warwick, her cousin, and Aretha Franklin, godmother), do to regain her position and footing in musicland? If the reports are true, Houston may have some major problems ahead.
Perhaps Whitney has not fully recovered from the demons that haunted her for the past decade. She has been through a lot: drug addiction and a failed marriage, with lots of drama in between that can wear anyone down. Even a royal diva princess like Houston.
Undoubtedly, she has lost that dynamic, sultry, mezzo-soprano voice, that could belt out a pop, rock tune, be glorious on a gospel song, and sweet and smooth on a ballad. What remains now are cracks, a loss of octave, lack of stamina, and maybe even a lack of confidence, all signs of deterioration.
There are remedies available to Houston if she is up for the task. Rest, exercise, proper diet, living a healthy life-style, vocal training, re-arranging and selecting songs that fit her vocal range, studio work instead of touring are some ways Houston can take charge and move forward in her career.
Obviously, the one-time pop star will have to make changes. There is no getting around that. The question is, can she do it? Is she willing to address the real issues? (Whatever they may be). Only time will tell, but we’re all hoping for the best from a diva who has been close to our hearts for so many musical years.
people.com, usatoday.com, nydailynews.com, popeater.com, youtube.com, smh.com.au, beatcrave.com, billboard.com, londoneveningstandard.co.uk.com,