“Whitney Houston was a laser beam … She always gave me better than what I asked for in the studio” – David Foster.
“Whitney Houston was a laser beam … She always gave me better than what I asked for in the studio” – David Foster.
The producer describes working with the magic of Whitney’s voice
By Rolling Stone
March 3, 2012 12:00 AM ET
I met Kevin Costner by chance up in Vancouver. He said, “I’m doing this new project – would you be interested in doing the music for it?” And of course, I said yes. When we started working on The Bodyguard, Quincy Jones took me to lunch and said to me, “This is the most important project of your career.” I don’t know how he knew, but he was right.
The song was originally supposed to be “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.” I tried to demo it twice, and I played it for Whitney both times, but my heart wasn’t in it. She was like, “Uh, I don’t know.” I called Kevin and said, “I think we should find another song.” The next day, he said, “What about ‘I Will Always Love You?'”
We recorded it live in Miami, because they wanted to film her singing. Whitney absolutely owned it. She’d always twist what I asked her to do, and most of the time she made it something I couldn’t have imagined. That was her magic. Her mom was there – I was standing out front, she had no idea who I was, and she leaned over and said, “You’re witnessing greatness right now. I hope you know that.” I said, “Yeah, I know.”
When we worked on “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” for her last album, it was kind of difficult. Every singer loses that high end at some point, and for Whitney it came early. It would be impossible for me to comment on whether her lifestyle contributed to that, but I know that when she would come in and rip her coat off and step up to the mic like a race horse, it’s very possible that she didn’t take care of her voice the way she should have. The voice is a muscle, and you’re always taught to go to the gym and warm up and stretch first before you lift hundred-pound weights. She was lifting hundred-pound weights right out of the gate, and probably did some damage to her voice. But Whitney really, really felt that lyric. You know, would it have been a better record if I had the Whitney from 1992? Yes, for sure. But like everything else she touched, she felt every single note of that song.
As told to Patrick Doyle
From Los Angeles Times:
Certain voices stand like monuments upon the landscape of 20th century pop, defining the architecture of their times, sheltering the dreams of millions and inspiring the climbing careers of countless imitators. Whitney Houston owns one of those voices.
When she was at her best, nothing could match her huge, clean, cool mezzo-soprano — not Madonna’s canny chirp, not Bono’s stone church wail nor Bruce Springsteen’s ramshackle growl. No, it was Houston who best embodied the feminine but gym-toned, black-inspired but aspirationally post-racial sound of global crossover pop. Like a Trump skyscraper, Houston the singer was as showily dominant as corporate capitalism itself.
Then, like many a glorious edifice, Houston’s voice fell into disrepair. Drug abuse and a rocky marriage to New Jack jerk Bobby Brown made her a tabloid staple. More tragically (for listeners, at least), her excesses trashed her instrument, which age and normal wear and tear would have imperiled anyway.
The pain and, frankly, disgust that so many pop fans felt during Houston’s decline was caused not so much by her personal distress as by her seemingly careless treatment of the national treasure that happened to reside within her.
“I Look to You,” the singer’s comeback after nearly a decade of ignominy, is a costly renovation overseen by her mentor, Clive Davis, and enacted by the best craftspeople money can buy, including the producers Akon, Stargate and Nate “Danja” Hills and the songwriters Diane Warren and Alicia Keys. It’s not unsuccessful: This is a habitable set of songs. But there’s a limit to what Houston can accomplish, and operating within limits becomes the album’s overriding theme.
This happens beneath the music’s surface, which balances inspirational balladry with bubblicious club pop, as Houston’s music always has done. Houston’s songwriters and producers provide her with top-notch tools; she wields them cautiously and almost humbly, never falling because she never reaches too high.
The best giant ballad is the Warren-penned, David Foster-produced “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” an exhibition of battle scars that’s richer for the weary, injury-protecting quality of Houston’s vocal. If she does earn the Grammy she’s virtually been promised for a song from this set, it should be for this one.
R. Kelly’s contributions — the megachurchy title track and “Salute,” a sort of rewrite of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” — are less convincing, mostly because Houston can’t muster the giant ego that’s made similar songs golden for Kells himself.
On most of the album, platinum beats overshadow any vocal pyrotechnics, and Houston interacts with her backing tracks with the muscle memory of a dance-floor veteran. It’s rewarding when she really settles into her rougher midlife tone, especially on the Danja-produced “Nothin’ But Love,” perhaps the most pugnacious thank-you note ever recorded.
When she aims for sweet, as in the hooky “Worth It,” or spirited, as on the disco-fab climax of the Leon Russell cover “A Song for You,” she gets there with effort.
But should we begrudge the fact that Whitney Houston now has to work at singing? It’s all to her credit. What’s hard to give up is the dream of painless perfection that the young Houston represented, back in the yuppie era, when her voice sounded like the easy money that was flowing everywhere. Of course, that didn’t turn out so well for anyone else, either.
Though “I Look to You” doesn’t soar like the old days, it’s fine to hear Houston working on her own recovery plan.
Stream the entire album live now! : www.whitneyhouston.com
NEW YORK – (Business Wire) Famed musical showman, producer and songwriter David Foster and some of his talented friends will be embarking on a 10-city tour of “David Foster and Friends” starting in Chicago on October 21st, including stops in New York, Boston, LA, Vancouver, Miami and other markets, it was confirmed today by Warner Bros. Records. In addition to such artists as Philip Bailey from the chart-topping Earth, Wind and Fire, Oprah protégé Charice, Chicago’s Peter Cetera and American Idol’s Michael Johns, fans can expect surprise visits at every show.
Foster, who has an unparalleled four-decade career producing, writing, discovering and nurturing some of the greatest talents in music, has added a special event to the “Foster and Friends Show” – a HIT MAN Talent Search for emerging artists that will take place in each city. Talent in each market will compete to be the next mega-artist by submitting video performances to NAMEDROP.COM. Following the pre-selection, radio and TV stations in their markets will air the selected video/audio clips and viewers/listeners will vote for the two finalists via station websites. The two finalists get to perform with Foster in front of a live audience during the Foster and Friends Concert. The audience and Foster will choose the final winner, who will be flown to Vancouver on November 8th for a final showdown in Foster’s home town.
With one of Hollywood’s most impressive phone books, Foster has yet to reveal which guests might visit him on stage during the tour. “Cher and Donny Osmond both surprised me in Las Vegas so I think people won’t be disappointed. I can certainly say each show will be very special and loads of fun. You never know what’s going to happen with this much talent on stage,” commented Foster who performed two sold out shows at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas recently.
Foster, a 15-time Grammy winner whose PBS Great Performances Special, “David Foster and Friends” was the highest pledged PBS show in history, will perform with his friends some of the hits that have paved the way for the many artists that he has worked with over the years, including Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli, Chaka Khan, Madonna, Chicago and The Corrs. Foster recently produced Seal’s critically acclaimed, “Soul” CD, Michael Bublé’s upcoming “Crazy Love” CD and a cut on Whitney Houston’s new CD. He is also in the studio with Oprah discovery Charice, who received five standing ovations during her recent performance in Las Vegas. David Foster’s current DVD/CD “Foster and Friends” is available on 143/Reprise Records.
Tour dates are as follows:
21-Oct Chicago, IL Wed Rosemont Theatre
23-Oct New York, NY Fri WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden
24-Oct Newark, NJ Sat Prudential Center
25-Oct Boston, MA Sun Agganis Arena
28-Oct Atlanta, GA Wed Fox Theatre
30-Oct Tampa, FL Fri St. Pete Times Forum
1-Nov Hollywood, FL Sun Hard Rock Live
5-Nov Los Angeles, CA Thur Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal City Walk
6-Nov San Jose, CA Fri HP Pavilion
8-Nov Vancouver, BC Sun General Motors Place
Ticket prices are $125, $85 and $55 and can be purchased by logging on to http://www.ticketmaster.com/ or by calling 1-800-745-3000 (except for Vancouver, Canada, 604-280-4444, or http://www.ticketmaster.ca/).
New Whitney Houston Album Set for September Release
Management confirms the diva is back this fall with a new material
Talk of a new album from one of the best-selling female performers of all times, Whitney Houston, has been going strong since the beginning of the year, but it’s just now that anything official is made public. “Undefeated,” Whitney’s comeback album, will hit music stores worldwide on September 1, her record label tells People magazine.
“Houston’s seventh studio album – rumored to be titled ‘Undefeated’ – will include the Diane Warren-penned ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’.” People writes, citing speculation in the US and international media. Although the record label is yet to make the official name of the comeback album public, chances are it will most likely go by the one just mentioned above, as it will mark a new stage in the singer’s life, one where she is no longer tied to former husband Bobby Brown and she is a different woman.
As fans must know, although she no longer performed for wide audiences and has not come out with anything new in terms of studio material since the 2003 “One Wish: The Holiday Album,” in recent months, Whitney has been keeping a relatively higher profile than before. Aside from performing at Clive Davis’ renowned Pre-Grammy Party, which is also the one event where he introduces the upcoming stars of tomorrow, Whitney has also been doing photo spreads for various magazines to start promoting the album when the time comes.
“The same way her debut album took a while to put together, you just don’t do it by going into a computer. You wait for the material to justify a new album. Pretty much, it’s come in.” Davis was telling the media back in February this year, confirming speculation that she was gearing up for a major comeback. “You wait for the great songs to be written. The great hits Whitney has given to the public for so many years – you keep encouraging and setting the bar. R. Kelly and Whitney just went into the studio with a great song called ‘I Look to You’.” Davis further explained.
Also then, Davis confirmed that the yet-untitled album would include the love ballad “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” that the diva recorded with the help of hitmaker David Foster.