Friday, January 8, 2010

NOW MORE THAN EVER!(In Style January '2010)(Interview)(Cover story). USA,

ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian

Not long ago, Whitney Houston gave serious thought to moving to a tropical island with her now 16-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and opening a little stall to sell fruit drinks. She was a globally famous, stunningly beautiful artist who'd sold a petrillion albums (OK, more than 140 million) and carried hit movies, yet Houston had lost her way. She had just ended her rocky 15-year-long marriage to Bobby Brown in 2007 and conquered a drug problem that had gotten so bad she once spent seven months in her pajamas. And all this left the woman known simply as the Voice to her fans so wrung out she considered a life without music.

Fortunately, fate--and Houston's longtime producer, Clive Davis--intervened. Davis managed to coax her back into the studio to record I Look to You, her first album in seven years. No comeback in recent history has incited this level of excitement, and the album promptly zoomed to the top of the charts here and in five other countries when it was released last August. At press time it had sold more than two million copies, going platinum in the U.S. While Houston has always been peerless in her ability to convey powerful emotion through song, her life experiences infuse the tunes with new depth and poignancy. Songs like the battle-weary "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" and the lump-in-the-throat title track take on a richness and authenticity borne of hard know ledge.

Houston, 46, has told the story of her dark past already and says she will not do it again. Instead, she is ready to look toward the future and to, well, have some fun. So here she sits, in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton near her Atlanta home. Houston can pull off a sequined gown like few others, but she is really a jeans-and-T-shirt kind of gal. Today she lounges barefoot on a couch, wearing blue jeans, a black V-neck T-shirt, an Atlanta Braves visor, and a navy-and-orange scarf. ("It's my mother's. I keep it with me all the time. I recorded the whole album with it on."). Her skin is flawless, her body still long and lean; as a 5-foot-8-inch former teenage model, she has always been able to carry off any outfit with finesse. The only thing that lets you know she is a six-time Grammy winner is the satellite-dish-size diamond ring winking on her right hand. She talks animatedly in a low, husky voice and frequently bursts into loud, cackling laughter so infectious that anyone who's around her can't help but laugh too. The confident, radiant Whitney Houston we all remember is back and owning every moment of it.

Which song on the new album means the most?

"I Look to You" resounds in my soul. It set the tone for the album as far as what I wanted to say. It's a very powerful song--I listen to it and it gives me strength and courage. Even when I don't sing it, I can hear it. I hear it now.

You've not only returned to the recording studio, you've had some live performances. What's it like to be onstage again?

It's nice to have the excitement of coming back into an industry that I'd been in for so many years. It's like driving: I haven't driven a car in a while because I get driven around [laughs]. But when I actually get behind a wheel again, it's like, "OK, I know how to do this."

Do you plan on touring?

That's going to be an at-my-pace kind of thing because I like to do things the real way. I have a live band onstage. My background singers are for real. My vocals are for real. I limit the computerization. So my goal is to have people come to a show and say, "Wow." And it's not like I'm going to be everywhere. It's going to be like, "Here I am. Come on out and see me if you can."

What will you bring on tour with you to make you happy?

My daughter has to be with me, and I have a godson now, who has been with me for two years. And my dogs. I have two terriers. That's pretty much what makes me comfortable.

You come from such a musical family. Have you, your mother, and your daughter ever sung together?

My daughter and I have, on several occasions. But not the three of us, no. Actually, what the three of us did together recently was take a family portrait. My mom came down to Atlanta for the three-generation pictures. She was very happy.

Do you and your daughter have a typical mother-daughter relationship?

Well, she's always, always, always borrowing my clothes. I'm cool with it, but she'll take something and won't give it back! I'll be looking for it, going, "I know I put it here. I know I did. It must be in Krissy's room." I love lipstick. I've got a lot of it. I had a trade-off with my daughter, where we went through all my makeup. I had a case that stood, like, this tall. [She holds her hand 4 feet off the ground.] I said, "All right, take what you want." But she's like any other 16-year-old girl--she likes her ... what do you call those boots that kids wear?


Uggs! [laughs] She's growing up on me so quick. She wears dresses; she's out of jeans now.

How are you most like her, and how are you different?

It's funny because her body is mine, her skin color is mine, but she says exactly what's on her mind, so she's like her father in that manner. These kids, man, they come out and just let you know right off. But I think it's a very important thing to allow our children to express themselves so it won't be expressed in other areas, like on the street. If she's angry, I allow her to say, "Damn! I'm so frustrated today!" We have our moments when we clash, but we have a good relationship. I want her to count on me to try to understand what she's going through. No damnation, no condemnation, nothing that's going to make her feel like she can't come to me.

Does having a teenage daughter bring back memories of your own Catholic-school days?

[Laughs] I used to wear jeans to school, and at the bottom of the hill, there was this Dunkin' Donuts, and I'd stop to change from my clothes into my uniform. Because we had plaid skirts, white shirts, the jacket, with the ties. It was very regimented, run by Dominican nuns, and discipline was the order of the day. You got out of school and it was like, Wooo!

Speaking of clothes, have you saved any of those iconic pieces that we remember?

I have what I wore when I did "The Star-Spangled Banner" [at Super Bowl XXV, in 1991]. I had on this very plain jogging suit. It's nicely boxed in New Jersey. I'll never forget the day. I had no idea what I was actually getting into. I didn't even have any makeup on! I knew I was singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." But the Gulf War was happening, a lot of people were awaiting the return of family members--it was a very emotional time. And I walked out and saw all the signs, like "Joe, I love you," or "The baby's fine," because our troops were watching overseas. I get chills right now thinking about how I looked at everybody and was like, "I gotta carry this. I gotta bring it on home."

Do you ever get nervous in spite of all the years you've been performing?

With this album. Because I had to gear myself up. I had really decided that I was not going to return. I was going to be mother to my kid, just be normal. I had had enough of the fame, the fortune. I had the marriage, I had my experiences, put them in my back pocket, and just wanted to keep it moving. Then Clive said, "You've been quiet for too long." And he played the song "I Look to You" and said, "R. Kelly wrote this for you almost eight years ago." And I was kind of like, "OK. All right. Yeah. I guess this song is where we start."

Are you interested in a return to film?

The thing about movies with me is, my job is always acting and singing. For my last three movies--The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, and The Preacher's Wife--I had to do a soundtrack too. It's a lot of work. So I'm very careful that if I do a movie, it won't be all just me. I'm looking at one particular script--I won't talk about it now. I don't want to ruin it. It's a remake.

You're 46 and look amazing. Are you still comfortable being a sex symbol?

Sexy can be sexual without having to expose a lot of yourself. Your body can express a lot without your having to take off a lot. I try to splash it in there a little bit, just by body movement. A smile, a little glance, the way you lean back says sexy without being too open or offending anyone. Because once they've seen it all, they go, "Man, I'm bored with that," instead of "Hmm, what's she going to do now?"



Whitney had a key part in helping get me my first record deal. Having her songs on the audition tape was proof to the label that I could belt the specific high notes that they wanted to hear. I had sung "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" at my first-grade talent show and "I Have Nothing" while I was on The Mickey Mouse Club. So, obviously, Whitney has always played a vital part of my love of song. I'm a fan not only of her music but also of Whitney, the woman. She's endured so much over the years, and I always support and admire any person who can overcome adversity and continue to shine--as she clearly has.


I sang Whitney's songs in front of the mirror with my hair-brush. When her videos used to come on TV, I'd take a blanket and spread it out in the living room, and that would be my dance floor. I'd perform along with the videos on TV. I probably sang every Whitney song there is. Her voice is so present and powerful. Music is supposed to help you, to change you, to make a difference. When I heard she was recording a new album, I could not wait. And when her single came on the radio, I was driving, and I actually started crying and had to pull over. I was like, Oh my god, she is back. And what made me even more emotional was that after her, they played my song! It was like a dream. And I have not stopped listening to the album. I have several iPods, and one of them is nothing but Whitney. Oh yes. It's an only-Whitney iPod!


When Whitney said she was considering dropping out of the music business, I understood because there have been times in my life that I wanted to stop singing and go open up a Laundromat or become a bus driver. Success can become so overwhelming. But when I wrote "I Look to You," I felt like a tailor, custom-making a dress for an angel. That is what Whitney was then and still is to me now. I was honored to be chosen by God to deliver this song to my angel, my friend, my sister--my mentor.


To see Whitney in the studio again was incredible. She said to me [Whitney's sister-in-law and manager], "I'm ready. I've waited. It's time." When you've been out of the game like that and so much focus has been on the negative with you as it relates to the marriage or the drug issue, you want to go out there and do the best that you can. So she's very happy to move forward. She realizes mistakes have been made, but she doesn't let those mistakes consume her. She knows that she loves music. She wants to continue to just do her music in peace and to raise her daughter.


When the "I Look to You" and "Million Dollar Bill" videos were filmed over a marathon two-day shoot in New York, Houston's longtime makeup artist, Roxanna Floyd, was under pressure. "We hadn't done a video in years, and I knew everyone was wondering, 'What's she going to look like?' " Floyd recalls. "So I kept it lowkey. I wanted people to see how beautiful she really is, without any gimmicks, like I was hiding something." Showcasing Houston's natural beauty was a labor of love for all. Stylist Timothy Snell chose a short raspberry Proenza Schouler dress for "Million Dollar Bill" (left) to "show off her legs and girlish figure."

Houston left many starstruck. After the dancers spotted her, choreographer Tanisha Scott says they let out a collective gasp. Scott herself was nervous until Houston told her, "Show me these moves. I may be older, but I can still get down." Scott says: "And she did! She also sang for every take. People were cheering." Houston kept the mood loose. "She'd joke around: 'These heels, honey! How many times are we going to do this?' "

As for "I Look to You," it was filmed in a spare Brooklyn studio, with Houston sitting on an apple crate, wearing a white Vera Wang gown (above). "The idea was simplicity," says Snell. "Whitney wanted the words to be heard with no distractions." (Indeed, an emotional Houston teared up while singing.) Floyd worked to ensure the star's makeup set off the gown's elegance. "I needed the eyes to be more intense in this video, to express the darkness, the aloneness, that sadness. I knew when she was singing, the light would come up in her eyes. And it did. People were blown away by how she looks. It's part her, part God, part me."


1. What's on your iPod?


2. How have your experiences helped you grow?


3. Best beauty tip?


4. If you had to describe life thus far with one song title, what would it be?


5. During your time away from the public, did you listen to your old records?


6. As a single mom, do you find it easy or hard to have a dating life?


7. Which celebrity's style do you admire most?


8. With whom would you like to collaborate music-wise?



Named Works: I Look to You (Sound recording)

Source Citation
Dunn, Jancee. "NOW MORE THAN EVER!" In Style Jan. 2010: 130. General OneFile. Web. 8 Jan. 2010. .

ArabicChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional)DeutchEspanolFrenchItalianJapaneseKoreanPortugueseRussian
Premium performance underwear - www.wickers.comPersonalized MY M&M'S® Candies (Web-Page) http://scuba.diver2007.googlepages.comCruise to the Caribbean! Click Here(Album / Profile)
leonard.wilson2008@hotmail.comShop the Official Coca-Cola Store!

No comments: