Three Australian musicians inspired by the late Whitney Houston | Film news
It was the Queen of the Night who sang The Greatest Love of All. It was the little girl who sang in church and who later became a choir singer while still in high school.
American singer and actress Whitney Houston has always been meant to be awesome because her talent and passion would have meant nothing less. But fame, fame, the demands of the entertainment industry bigwigs and public expectations have taken their toll on one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.
Houston’s death in February 2012 was attributed to drowning, the combination of cocaine poisoning and coronary heart disease. Although his tumultuous marriage to rapper Bobby Brown and his drug use (and abuse) have been heavily speculated and exploited in the entertainment media, his musical legacy must be respected. She paved the way for young African American singers and actresses, but her influence was much wider than that. She has inspired the sound of many modern rhythm n blues, pop, gospel, funk and soul singers. Her dramatic and shattering vocal acrobatics can be heard in the work of Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Beyoncé.
Australian artists, whether directly influenced or purely Houston fans, reflected on the legendary artist nearly a decade after his death.
Anthony Callea, currently touring Together Again, was the special guest on Whitney’s last Australian outing, the Nothing but Love World Tour in 2010.
“Whitney’s promoter called me and asked if I would like to be his special guest on her  tour and I remember responding with a big “Yes!” “While trying to control my arousal,” says Callea. “I will never forget the moment she stopped in my dressing room to come and thank me for being on the tour. I can’t choose just one favorite [song], “he admits.” How could you, it’s Whitney? I love ‘How Will I Know’ and ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. I recorded a version of those two songs on my Backbone album where I merged the two songs into a unique piano / voice arrangement.
Soul singer Kylie Auldist is both solo artist and frontwoman of The Bamboos. She recorded her first song at the age of six in the town of Hay in New South Wales where she grew up. Since then, it has been on an upward trajectory towards international fame.
“In 1985, I discovered the new and incredible singing sensation that was Whitney Houston and her fabulous self-titled album,” Auldist recalls. “His voice had such depth and power. She could sing anything. She sang with a black voice, which I loved, even though it was designed to appeal to a white market, like so many before her. It’s hard to choose a favorite song [but] I think ‘Saving All My Love’, her take on ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and her cover of ‘I’m Every Woman’ by Chaka Khan are my top three.
Emma Donovan, soul / funk / RnB singer and proud Gumbaynggirr / Dhangatti wife, began her career at the age of seven when she performed with her famous family country band, The Donovans. She has since become known for her powerful performances with The Putbacks.
“I was ten or eleven years old when I first heard ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’,” says Donovan. “All my aunts were rocking this track at weddings and family events in the late 80’s, early 90’s. It’s forever a party favorite, alongside those romantic tunes like ‘How Will I Know “and my favorite from Dolly Parton,” I Will Always Love You “. I love Whitney and her amazing voice, and I connect with her gospel tones and religious background, which are similar to mine. “
The documentary, Whitney reveals an artist and a woman under immense pressure from the media and the public to be available and accessible. Despite the demands and her struggles with addiction, she has released seven studio albums and six compilations and over 50 singles over five decades. The documentary is a revelation for fans, but also a preview for those just new to his music and films.
As Callea put it so clearly, “She was and always will be an icon. His music is timeless and will always be a part of mine and all of our lives.
Whitney airs on SBS On Demand until July 6
United Kingdom, United States, 2018
Kind: Documentary, Music
Director: Kevin macdonald
With: Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, Cissy Houston, Clive Davis, LA Reid, Kevin Costner, Arsenio Hall
What is it about?
Filmmaker Kevin Macdonald examines the life and career of singer Whitney Houston. Includes never-before-seen archive footage, exclusive recordings, rare performances, and interviews with people who knew her best.