Whitney Fills The O2 Hole...

Independent: Whitney Houston fills the O2 hole left by death of Jackson

Comeback concerts mark American singer's return from drug addiction
By Jerome Taylor
Friday, 31 July 2009

It was billed as the ultimate comeback tour, but when Michael Jackson died last month from a suspected heart attack at just 50 it was not only the millions of fans that were left heartbroken. The King of Pop's death also meant one of America's largest entertainment giants suddenly -needed to find a replacement for Jackson's 50-date tour at London's O2 Arena.

Now AEG Live looks as if it has found a pair of highly suitable replacements in the guise of two pop acts with recently troubled pasts who also happen to be relaunching their careers. Reports say the company is on the verge of signing Whitney Houston and Robbie Williams to fill some of the 23 dates Jackson was to perform in early 2010.

Jackson's This Is It tour at the O2 had been due to start on 13 July but he died just as the finishing touches were being made at the dress- rehearsal. Since then, AEG has scrambled to find replacement shows at such short notice. But its plans to sign up big acts to cover the second half of what would have been Jackson's tour in early 2010 seems to have been more successful.

Both pop stars have multi- platinum careers to their names and a musical style well-suited to selling out high-capacity stadiums. They have also both been through turbulent times in recent years and are keen to relaunch their careers after strings of headlines that tended not to revolve around their musical abilities.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Whitney Houston was one of the world's biggest-selling acts, thanks to her soul pedigree and powerful voice which sold records by the bucket-load. Her rendition of Dolly Parton's "I will always love you", the title track for the 1992 movie Bodyguard, in which she appeared as a soul diva alongside Kevin Costner, became one of entertainment's best-selling singles, and the Recording Industry Association of America still ranks her as the fourth best-selling female artist in history.

But Houston's career spiralled downwards after she became addicted to a cocktail of drugs along with her husband Bobby Brown, whom she eventually separated from in 2006. Her slow rehabilitation meant she has not released a studio album in more than four years.

But just weeks ago, she revealed that her new album I Look to You would hit the shops in August. London's Mandarin Oriental hotel was the chosen venue to unveil the new album, feeding rumours that her comeback tour would begin on this side of the Atlantic.

Williams has also had a similarly patchy career. By far the most successful breakout solo act from Take That, who went on to produce a string of popular albums over the past two years, his career has been dominated by mixed reviews and an ongoing contractual dispute with his record company EMI. But a new studio album, Reality Killed the Video Star, is to be released in October, coupled with an expected global comeback tour. AEG is doing its best to claw back as much cash as possible. Although it has lost millions from the empty nights at the O2, it will almost certainly recoup large amounts, thanks to its ownership of high-definition video footage of the dress rehearsals. AEG executives have been screening samples of more than 80 hours of filming to major Hollywood studios with the idea of making a full-length movie. So far, only a brief snippet of Jackson's concert rehearsals have been publicly revealed. That showed Jackson practising a song-and-dance routine at Los Angeles's Staples Centre two days before his death.

A spokesman for AEG would only say: "The O2 talks to as many world-class artists and their teams as we conceivably can. We want every great act to play the O2 and we're very fortunate that artists want to play our building."

Whitney Steps In...

Telegraph: Robbie Williams and Whitney Houston 'to step in for Michael Jackson at O2'

Robbie Williams and Whitney Houston have been lined up to fill Michael Jackson's cancelled dates at the O2 arena, it has been claimed.
By Matthew Moore
Published: 7:00AM BST 31 Jul 2009

The promoters AEG hope that both stars will launch their comeback tours at the 20,000 venue in Greenwich, south east London.

They have reportedly been pencilled in for dates in January, February and March next year – when Jackson was due to perform the second batch of shows in his 50-date residency.

AEG refunded all tickets after the King of Pop's death last month and faced a bill of up to £300 million for the cancelled concerts.

Yesterday a source at the US entertainment giant indicated that Williams and Houston were ready to step in.

"Robbie's eagerly-awaited album will be out soon and he is likely to be touring Europe next year. It will be perfect for him to start with shows at the O2," they told the Evening Standard.

"Whitney Houston has been on our wish-list for a while – she has the voice and the hits to sell the arena out several times over."

Former Take That member Williams has amassed a fortune estimated at around £80 million thanks to solo albums including Life Thru a Lens, I've Been Expecting You and Sing When You're Winning.

Soul singer Houston is the voice behind I Will Always Love You, one of the best-selling singles in history.

Publicists for the two singers declined to comment.



London Evening Standard: Houston (and Robbie), you have solved O2’s problem
By Amar Singh Last updated at 09:36am on 30.07.09

Robbie Williams and Whitney Houston are set to make their respective comebacks with a series of concerts at the O2 arena early next year.

AEG, the US entertainment giant that owns the 20,000-seat venue, has been searching for “marquee names” to fill some of the 23 dates in early 2010 when Michael Jackson was due to

With both Williams, 35, and Houston, 45, releasing long-awaited new albums this year, they believe they have found two artists with the profile and repertoire to sell out ­several gigs at the east London venue.

The move will save millions for AEG, which has failed to book new shows for 20 nights this year, left open after Jackson's sudden death last month.

An AEG source told the Standard: “Robbie's eagerly-awaited album will be out soon and he is likely to be touring Europe next year. It will be perfect for him to start with shows at the O2.

“Whitney Houston has been on the O2 arena wish-list for a while — she has the voice and hits to sell the arena out several times over.”

Williams's new album Reality Killed the Video Star will be released in October, with the singer's manager David Enthoven promising fans “a big pop record with four or five smash hits”. It will be Williams's first album since his 2006 flop Rudebox, and follows two successful comeback tours and albums from his former band Take That.

Houston was one of the biggest-selling artists in the late Eighties and early Nineties, before drug and alcohol addictions derailed her career. Her new album I Look To You is being released next month and will be her first release since 2002's Just Whitney.

This month she announced her comeback at the Mandarin Oriental in London before a VIP crowd of record executives and entrepreneurs including Topshop's Sir Philip Green and music guru Clive Davis.

Both singers will perform their greatest hits in addition to material from their new albums.

While neither artists' spokesman would confirm the shows, it is believed they will take place in January, February and March, when Jackson was due to perform the last 23 of a 50-date residency at the O2. Other performers likely to have gigs at the O2 next year include Eminem and Bon Jovi.


Billboard: Chart Beat Thursday: Whitney Houston, Black Eyed Peas, Demi Lovato
by Gary Trust | July 30, 2009 4:18 EDT

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: A host of veterans enjoy warm welcomes back to Billboard charts this week.

After co-hosting listening parties in Los Angeles, New York and London, attended by such collaborators as Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats and celebrities including Martha Stewart and Diane Sawyer, Whitney Houston blasts back onto R&B/Hip-Hop Songs with "I Look to You" at No. 27. The ballad, penned by R. Kelly, also bows on Adult R&B (viewable at billboard.biz) at No. 23.

The song is Houston's 41st entry on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and first since "Try It on My Own" wrapped up a 14-week stay exactly six years ago this week. "I Look to You" instantly becomes Houston's highest-charting track since "Same Script, Different Cast," with Deborah Cox, peaked at No. 14 in 2000.

The new single is the title cut to Houston's seventh studio album, due Monday, Aug. 31.

Billboard Chart Update...

The Billboard update for the week ending 8 August 2009:

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - New Entry at No.27 - 1 week on chart;
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay - New Entry at No.27 - 1 week on chart;
Hot Adult R&B Airplay - New Entry at No.23 - 1 week on chart.


LIKE I NEVER LEFT (Featuring Akon):
Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles - New Entry at No.23 - 1 week on chart.

The Wait Is Over...

San Francisco Chronical: Whitney Houston: The Wait is Over
Jo Schuman Silver / Producer, Beach Blanket Babylon (Clive Davis' Cousin)

This past weekend, I was in L.A. where I attended a listening party for Whitney Houston's new album, "I Look To You" which was held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. Hosted by my cousin, Clive Davis, this event came on the heels of listening parties in London and New York. The album drops September 1st. Whitney was wore a black Armani sheath dress with stunning diamonds earrings that looked absolutely radiant!

Before each album track, Clive gave a brief speech explaining how he found each song and introduced some of the songs' composers who were there that evening. The album is a mix of dance tunes, mid-tempo songs, and power ballads. During the evening, there were clips of Houston performing some of her most popular hits: "I Will Always Love you", "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", and "One Moment in Time".

The audience in L.A. ranged from Jane Fonda, Jackie Collins and Halle Berry, to Barry Manilow, Magic Johnson and Stevie Wonder. Also in attendance was her teenage daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who I've known since she was born and who's grown into a beautiful young woman.

Highlights of the album include, "Million Dollar Bill" (written by Alicia Keyes and produced by her boyfriend, Swizz Beats), "Like I Never Left" (written and featuring Akon), "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" (written by Dianne Warren and produced by David Foster) and the title track "I Look To You" (Written by R. Kelly).

What was amazing to me that evening was seeing the overwhelming support for Whitney. Everyone has loved that voice from the first time they heard it. I still recall Clive playing me the demo-recording of, "I Will Always Love You" from The Bodyguard in 1992. I was totally blown away. I still remember Clive saying to me, "This is going to be huge!"

It has been 7 years since Whitney's last album, and there has been tremendous anticipation for this new release. Clive convinced her, especially after her tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown and her alleged substance abuse, that it was time to make music again, "People want to hear you sing."

Carefully he chose the material as he always does and worked closely with her to instill her confidence.

Clive discovered Whitney when she was only 19 years old and it has been a father-daughter relationship ever since.

During the party, Whitney leaned over to me and said, "I truly am Clive's daughter".

At the end of the evening when Houston acknowledged the capacity crowd, she said, "I am humbled, thank you for coming". She mentioned her troubled past and then paid an emotional tribute to Clive, "Those years when we were apart I was lost, but now I'm home where I belong".

: 30 JULY 2009

Earlier Release = Grammy Race?...

Los Angeles Times: Earlier release date puts Whitney Houston and 'I Look to You' into Grammys race

Whitney Houston could contend for this year's Grammy Awards now that "I Look to You" is being released on Aug. 31, the last day of eligibility. Plans had been to drop this disc the next day – Sept. 1 – which as a Tuesday is the traditional time for new releases. However, good buzz is building about Houston's first studio album in six years, with well-attended listening parties in L.A. and Gotham. The title track is available both for streaming and as a free download until July 31 at Houston's official

Houston first came to fame with a self-titled debut disc in 1985 that won her a Grammy Award for best pop vocal performance and contended for the top prize of album of the year (Phil Collins won for "No Jacket Required"). And she earned an Emmy for her performance of "Saving All My Love For You" on that Grammycast. Her single "The Greatest Love of All" lost record of the year the following year to "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood.

Houston won another pop vocal Grammy in 1987 for "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" off her second album "Whitney." That disc also competed for album of the year but lost to U2 for "The Joshua Tree."

Her third studio album — 1990's "I'm Your Baby Tonight" — did not net her any Grammys. However, the soundtrack for her film debut, "The Bodyguard," won album of the year in 1993 while her rendition of the Dolly Parton tune "I Will Always Love You" won record of the year and a third pop vocal Grammy.

Houston's fourth studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," included the track "It's Not Right but It's Okay," which won her a sixth and so far final Grammy for R&B vocal performance in 1999. Her last mainstream album "Just Whitney" was released in 2002 but did not contend at the Grammys. Neither did her 2003 holiday album, "One Wish."

Houston could be poised for a classic Hollywood comeback. In February, she performed at the annual pre-Grammy party of her onetime mentor, Clive Davis, and appeared on the kudocast as well, bestowing a Grammy on Jennifer Hudson. Could she be receiving a lucky seventh Grammy next year?


'I Look To You' First Single Exclusive...

whitneyhouston.com: Whitney Houston "I Look To You" Free Download!

whitneyhouston.com is happy to announce that we will be offering Whitney Houston's brand new single "I Look To You" as a free download to all fans and listeners. All you have to do is visit www.whitneyhouston.com to find the free download offer. Enter in your email address, name, city, state and date of birth and you'll be e-mailed Whitney's brand new single. Simple as that!

This free download promotion is not just happening here in the US either!! If you're visiting
www.whitneyhouston.com from abroad, you can also download the single by visiting one of your local sites listed below. Each territory has their own rules and guidelines regarding this free download (including caps & start/end dates), so please be sure you download the song from the actual country you reside in! Here are additional links to download "I Look To You" internationally:


Release Date Brought Forward...

whitneyhouston.com: Whitney Houston's Album Moved Up to August 31st Release

(New York, NY -July 28, 2009) Fueled by the continuous excitement from last week's much-buzzed about Whitney Houston album listening events in New York and Los Angeles, Arista Records has moved the release date of I Look To You up to August 31st.

As a gift to her fans, a free download of the album's title track, powered by Yahoo! Music, is available now at www.whitneyhouston.com until July 31st. "I Look To You," a sweeping ballad with Whitney's signature soaring vocals that fans have come to love, was written by R. Kelly.

I Look To You, Whitney's 7th studio album, boasts a who's who of A-List songwriters and producers.

The final track listing is as follows:

1. Million Dollar Bill
2. Nothin' But Love
3. Call You Tonight
4. I Look To You
5. Like I Never Left (feat. Akon)
6. A Song For You
7. I Didn't Know My Own Strength
8. Worth It
9. For The Lovers
10. I Got You
11. Salute

Be sure to visit www.whitneyhouston.com regularly for up-to-date album information, exclusive photos and breaking news!


An Interesting Mix of Partners...

MTV: Whitney Houston Talks Hooking Up With Akon, Alicia Keys

The singer chooses an interesting mix of partners for I Look to You.
By Jocelyn Vena, with reporting by Jane Mun

Whitney Houston wasn't too sure about working with rapper/singer/producer Akon for her new album, I Look to You, when her label president, Clive Davis, suggested him as a suitable collaborator.

"When Clive told me I would be working with Akon, I thought, 'Hmm, interesting, um, all right,' " she told MTV News of her initial reaction to the producer of her song "Like I Never Left."

Houston realized she wanted to recapture what she had done with Wyclef Jean in 1999. "I wanted the record like 'My Love Is Your Love' with an island feel," she explained. "I wanted an island record because 'My Love Is Your Love' is so huge ... it has its own fashion with Wyclef. ... I wanted that feeling, but I didn't know who [could do that]. And Clive came and said, 'Akon is the guy that we're going to work with.' And I was like, 'OK, Akon. OK, I can deal with that.' "

But when Houston and Akon first met in the studio, her fears weren't exactly completely squelched after she heard how he came up with his moniker. "I was asking him, 'Did your mother name you Akon?' " Houston recalled. "And he said, 'No, it means a convict.' And I thought, 'Oh, God. OK, all right, I can handle that.' He's a gentleman. He did his work very well. We did it very quickly, very diligently, and I'm very proud of that record. It's a great record."

By contrast, Houston had no reservations about working with Alicia Keys. She knew as soon as she saw Keys perform that she wanted to get in the studio with the Grammy winner.

"When she performed at one of [Clive's] parties the year before last, I kind of looked at her, and it was when she had [the 'No One'] record out, and it was the only record that came on the radio that inspired me," Houston said. "It made me feel good and happy, and I thought, 'God, she's on the label with Daddy [Clive Davis] here.'

"I thought, 'I got to get to know her. I got to have a camaraderie with some of the people that were on the label where I came back home to,' " she continued.

Keys, of course, said yes. "I walked over to her, and off the cuff said, 'Hey, do you think you could produce me?' She said, 'Yeah, I think I can,' " Houston recounted. "Then I performed a year after, and she came up with the song 'Million Dollar Bill,' and I said, 'Wow, incredible.' "

Kevin Costner 'Knew'...

ABC News: Costner on Houston's New Album: 'I Knew This Day Was Coming'

Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston Made Movie Magic in 'The Bodyguard'
July 28, 2009

Whitney Houston, the beauty with the megawatt voice, and Kevin Costner, Hollywood's iconic superstar actor, made screen history in "The Bodyguard." 17 years later, Costner still remembers the decision to cast Houston in the film.

"I remember Whitney before she was in the movie," Costner said. "And I just looked at her and I said, 'Oh man, this girl really -- she just really has it.'"

Their on-screen chemistry and Costner's vision for how Houston's singing would thread the film together led to a movie that made an indelible mark and to the most successful film soundtrack of all time.

Costner calls Houston "a true beauty, and such a musical instrument."

"It wasn't really a mystery to me when Whitney ended up in 'The Bodyguard,'" he said, laughing. "I really wanted her. And there was a moment in time where it was -- could have maybe been somebody else. And I said, 'No, I want to wait. I want to wait for Whitney.'"

The film's screenwriter Larry Kasdan, producer Jim Wilson and studio Warner Brothers agreed.

"We postponed the movie for a year to wait for Whitney," Costner said. "That's the game you play a lot of times with movies. Could somebody else play that role? Of course, somebody could have. But, nobody better."

Houston's version of the Dolly Parton-penned song "I Will Always Love You," became the movie's iconic anthem, but Costner said it wasn't even supposed to be in the film. The song they planned to include, "What Becomes of a Broken Heart," appeared in another film that year.

"I didn't want to duplicate that," Costner said. "Dolly's song just was a song that I'd always really, really loved."

When there was concern that a country song performed a cappella wouldn't get enough radio support, Costner recalled saying, "I don't really care. … But I wouldn't be too sure about that."

The song choice wasn't the only long shot. There was also the question of how mainstream audiences would react to a mixed race romance.

"When Whitney was cast there was talk about, well, should we make mention of it, you know, in a scene," he said. "And all parties really looked at each other and we said, 'No ... let's not do that. This is a woman. This is not race."

Costner on Kissing Houston

When the characters kissed in the movie, Costner said it "was just about good old fashioned chemistry. Boy-girl stuff."

"That kiss was all about that," he said. "That was about a man and a woman saying thank you to each other."

Costner joked that "I kissed her once for everybody in America, and I kissed her once for myself."

There's something else you might not know about the man who kissed Whitney Houston for America. The actor, filmmaker, husband and father is on stage in a surprising new role -- lead singer for his own rock-and-roll band, Modern West.

"I, you know, ultimately love to perform," he said. "When I'm on stage playing live is when I actually feel the best. And my wife, for that matter, says that's when I -- she thinks I'm more myself than any other place."

It may be the same for Whitney Houston. As the world looks to the release of her first new album in seven years on Aug. 31, Costner says we'll be glad she's back.

"That kiss was all about that," he said. "That was about a man and a woman saying thank you to each other."

Costner joked that "I kissed her once for everybody in America, and I kissed her once for myself."

There's something else you might not know about the man who kissed Whitney Houston for America. The actor, filmmaker, husband and father is on stage in a surprising new role -- lead singer for his own rock-and-roll band, Modern West.

"I, you know, ultimately love to perform," he said. "When I'm on stage playing live is when I actually feel the best. And my wife, for that matter, says that's when I -- she thinks I'm more myself than any other place."

It may be the same for Whitney Houston. As the world looks to the release of her first new album in seven years on Aug. 31, Costner says we'll be glad she's back.

Legendary producer Clive Davis told "Good Morning America" that one song on the new album called "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" speaks to Houston's resilience. Costner also pointed to his former co-star's ability to bounce back.

"Everybody who's watching, everybody who's done this business, we've all been broken a little bit," Costner said. "We've all been bruised. And life has taken, you know, some big bites out of all of us. But, you know, Whitney Houston has taken some big bites out of life. And we've all been the better for it."

Houston will perform live on "GMA" on Sept. 2. Stay tuned to "GMA" and abcnews.com/gma for more information, and CLICK HERE to visit Whitney Houston's official Web site.



Ups & Downs...

MTV: Whitney Houston's I Look To You Addresses Her 'Ups And Downs'

'I kept my faith and I kept my head up and I took my time,' she says of putting together her first studio album in seven years.
By Jocelyn Vena, with reporting by Jane Mun

On Whitney Houston's new album, I Look to You, fans can expect to hear Houston singing all about the ups and downs of her life over the past few years. The album, which hits stores in September, will reflect the events and emotions that she has gone through since her last release in 2002.

"That makes it real," she told MTV News of singing about personal struggles. "The changes that we go through, the transitions that we go through, the tests that we go through, being a mother, becoming a single mother — it all had its ups and its downs, but for the most part, I kept my faith and I kept my head up and I took my time."

She said during that time away from the spotlight, she "had the blessing of watching my daughter [Bobbi Kristina] grow from the time of 12. When a young woman is at the age of 12 or 13, you know, it's the detrimental years ... and I had the opportunity to watch her grow and be there for her."

So when the opportunity came for Houston to get back to work, she still wanted a little free time. "Clive [Davis] called me, and I said, 'Just give me a minute. Let me get her straightened out. Let me get her on the right track and let her know what I'm about to do, 'cause she's going with me everywhere I go. She's going to be right here by my side.' "

Her daughter ended up fully supporting her mom's decision to get back to work. "When I told her I was going to embark on a new album, she was so supportive and very much my friend," Houston recalled. "And she said, 'You got it, mom. You can do it.'

"All the triumphs and the ups and downs and stuff, it's all incorporated on the album, and hopefully not only does it inspire me, but inspires a whole lot of other people," Houston added.



No Problem...

New York Post: Houston Has No Problem

WHITNEY Houston broke seven years of musical silence this week, unveiling nine of the 11 tracks for her much delayed album "I Look to You."

The disc, infused with a very '90s R&B quality that leans on vocals rather than distracting strings, was played by Whitney's guru Clive Davis at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Allen Room.

Here's a quick preview of the album, which is set for a Sept. 1 release.

1. "Million Dollar Bill" -- Written by Alicia Keys for Houston and produced by Swizz Beatz, this is the freshest and most aggressive tune on the record.

2. "Nothin' But Love" -- Her strength lies in the growly mid-range she uses well here to deliver a pleading element.

3. "Call You Tonight" -- With a pretty melody and straightforward vocals, this is one of the simplest songs on the record.

4. "I Look to You" -- An old-fashioned, booming gospel ballad.

5. "Like I Never Left" -- This breakup to make-up song finds Akon dueting with Whitney for a bouncy pop track.

6. "A Song for You" -- Why cover this Leon Russell song and try to soup it up into a disco piece?

7. "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" -- This ballad, written by sap queen Diane Warren, seems to chronicle Houston's well-publicized marital and drug problems. It's a hokey, pokey stumble.

8. "Worth It" -- The answer song to "How Will I Know" (the huge hit of Houston's youth). Good melody and lyrics in this up-tempo tune.

9. "Salute" -- This drag-beat R. Kelly composition has Whitney talking her way through the song. While it isn't an outright ballad, the synthesized melody has a repetitious, molasses tempo.



Pictures from Whitney Houston's LA Album Listening...

LA Album Listening...

Rap-Up.com: Whitney Houston's LA Album Listening

From London to New York to Los Angeles. Whitney Houston touched down in Beverly Hills on Thursday to preview her new album I Look to You in front of a few hundred invited guests at the Beverly Hilton.

Halle Berry, Jane Fonda, Stevie Wonder, Magic Johnson, Jackie Collins, Barry Manilow, Brett Ratner, Beverly Johnson, Diane Warren, Penny Marshall, Brian McKnight, David Foster, and Garcelle Beauvais were just some of the stars who were eager to hear the comeback queen’s new music.


LA Preview...

Rap-Up.com: Preview - Whitney Houston 'I Look To You'

“The Wait Is Over…” read the monitors inside the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Thursday (July 23). Whitney Houston heralded her return to music with the last of three ritzy listening sessions for her first studio album in seven years, I Look to You.

Rap-Up.com was inside and has a play by play of the evening’s events, including our impressions of the nine previewed tracks.

The stars turned out in droves including Halle Berry, Jane Fonda, Stevie Wonder (who arrived fashionably late), Magic Johnson, Jackie Collins, Barry Manilow, Brett Ratner, Beverly Johnson, Diane Warren, Penny Marshall, Brian McKnight, David Foster, and Garcelle Beauvais. Phones and cameras were prohibited, although many disregarded the restriction.

Clive Davis introduced the album and played a video montage highlighting his protégé’s impressive achievements. The music mogul spoke about the 19-year-old girl he molded into one of the most successful artists of all time, selling 170 million albums, singles, and videos worldwide. He joked about how “American Idol” contestants get flak for attempting to cover Whitney songs because only the originator can do them justice. Whitney asked Clive if she should start writing her own songs, but he told her to only do so if she felt she could deliver something stellar. He then began playing each of the nine songs, starting with “Million Dollar Bill.”

During the last song, a cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” the 45-year-old singer walked on stage to a standing ovation and roaring cheers, wearing a black cocktail dress. She looked happy and healthy. “I am so humbled and so thankful for you all for coming. There is so much love in the room and I thank you and I feel it,” she told the crowd.

She hugged Stevie Wonder (“How much I love that man, I can’t even tell you”) and acknowledged the other celebrities in attendance including her close friend Halle Berry (“How’s the baby?”), Jane Fonda (“I almost croaked. Jane Fonda at my listening party?!”), Beverly Johnson (“Baby, you are America’s Top Model”), R. Kelly (“One of the best singer-songwriters in the industry”), Diane Warren (who she impersonated), and David Foster.

“It took me three-and-a-half years,” she said about the recording process. “I took my time.” Clive and Whitney worked closely together on the project. “I’m back home where I belong,” she said looking at Clive, before joking that he parties like a rock star. She recalled when Clive once told her, “You’re just impossible!” After seeing plaques from legends like Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin on his office walls, she asked, “I’m the impossible one?” Everyone laughed.

The new album is contemporary, but you can expect to hear the same Whitney Houston you’ve come to know and love. The empowering songs have a feel-good vibe, complemented by Whitney’s strong vocals (in fine form) and memorable melodies courtesy of today’s top producers and songwriters such as Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Akon, R. Kelly, Danja, Eric Hudson, Diane Warren, David Foster, Claude Kelly, and Tricky Stewart. The music feels natural and not trying to pander to what’s hot at the moment.

Whitney exited the stage just as she entered, to a standing ovation and thunderous applause. “God bless you. I love you. Peace!”

Below are the nine tracks we heard. They are unfinished versions in many cases, according to Clive.

1. “Million Dollar Bill”

Swizz Beatz/Alicia Keys

As we first reported here, Swizz Beatz produced this track. Alicia Keys wrote it after personally asking Clive to write for Whitney’s album. The song doesn’t have a typical Swizz sound and feels more old-school R&B. It puts you in a good mood, but don’t let the title fool you. This is not an attempt at being a hip-hop club banger. It was the favorite for many. No doubt this will become a single.

2. “Nothin’ But Love”


Uptempo, danceable, hand-clapping beat. Whitney’s vocals are on prominent display as she belts out several long runs. Urban radio will eat this up.

3. “Call You Tonight”
Stargate/Johnta Austin

A contender for the lead single. It features a guitar riff common in Stargate productions (“With You” and “Irreplaceable”). “I wish that I could stay, but I gotta go/ Let me call you tonight, just as soon as I get home,” she sings.

4. “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”

David Foster/Diane Warren

A version of this previously leaked to the Internet. Clive likened the power ballad to “I Will Always Love You.” It was recorded after her separation from Bobby Brown and tells of triumph in the face of diversity. Clive told Diane Warren, “You’ve written one of your great copyrights.”

5. “Like I Never Left” feat. Akon

Akon/Claude Kelly

Another track that leaked last year. The version that was played sounded more complete with added bass. Clive said Whitney wanted an island song, so they reached out to Akon. Clive started to dance to this one, which was pretty entertaining in itself. We didn’t love this when we first heard it, but it has grown on us considerably.

6. “Salute”

R. Kelly

Militaristic, marching beat. R. Kelly also has his vocals featured (“Eh eh eh”). One of our personal faves. “I’m a soldier girl/ In this world/ I stand alone/ I can be strong/ I walked the lines/ I made it home/ It’s good to know without you I made it.” Whitney even throws in an LL Cool J reference: “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”

7. “I Look to You”
R. Kelly/Tricky Stewart/Harvey Mason Jr.

Powerful piano ballad that sums up the album. “When all my strength is gone, I look to you,” she sings. “This song says all I wanted to say,” explains Whitney of the title track. Clive did not mention it being the first single, although it has already leaked to radio.

8. “Worth It”
Eric Hudson/Johnta Austin

Midtempo piano ballad. “I know somebody’s gonna make love to this song tonight,” she coos. A great groove and the dark horse of the album.

9. “A Song for You”
Leon Russell/Harvey Mason Jr.

A cover of Leon Russell’s 1970 song. Starts off slow with a piano intro, then speeds up towards the middle. Some of the audience got up and danced when they heard this. An unexpected take on a classic.

Whitney Houston’s 7th studio album I Look to You arrives September 1.

Whitney Steps Into R Kelly's World...

Rap-Up.com: Whitney Houston Steps Into R. Kelly's World

A diva like Whitney Houston always get her way, but not when it comes to working with R. Kelly.

The legendary superstar and Pied Piper of R&B collaborated on two songs for her new album I Look to You, including the title track and “Salute.”

“My dear, dear R. Kelly,” Whitney said at a listening for her album in Beverly Hills on Thursday. “Some people just have their own world and R. Kelly, he has his own world.”

She said working with the “Ignition” singer was somewhat of a challenge. “You have to step into his world and I kinda stepped in and stepped out for a minute,” she laughed. “That’s a story we’ll keep between him and I—forever.”

Whitney didn’t leave without acknowledging Kells’ contributions to her album and the music industry. “[There] would not have been a ‘Salute’ or ‘I Look to You’ without Robert Kelly, who is by far one of the best singer-songwriters in the industry today.”


E! Online: Whitney Houston: "I Felt Kind of Lost"
Fri., Jul. 24, 2009 6:45 AM PDT by

Whitney Houston's comeback album drops in just six weeks.

And it was the superstar diva herself who best summed up the excitement for her return when she took center stage at last night's VIP-only album listening party in Beverly Hills.

"I'm back home," she said. "I'm back home where I belong."

Among the VIP guests packed into a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton hotel to hear nine songs from I Look to You were Halle Berry, Stevie Wonder, Magic Johnson, Barry Manilow, Penny Marshall, model Beverly Johnson and a slew of music industry heavyweights.

Who was the Hollywood legend Houston met for the first time at the soiree? And how was Houston looking and sounding? Read on to find out.

Sitting in a front row seat was Jane Fonda, who attended with her music producer boyfriend Richard Perry.

"When they told me you were here tonight, I almost croaked," Houston said to the Oscar winner after the two embraced. "I was like, 'Jane Fonda is at my listening party? How cool am I?'"

Sony music honcho and Houston's mentor since he discovered her oh-so-many years ago Clive Davis hosted the evening. And Ms. Whitney looked fantastically fabulous last night (she kept it simple with a short black dress, killer heels and little makeup).

The music was true Houston. Among the songs Davis introduced and played for the crowd were the Alicia Keys-written "Million Dollar Bill," the up-tempo "Nothing But Love," the ballad "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," the island song duet with Akon "Like I Never Left," and the title track, one of two collaborations with R. Kelly.

The album took about three and a half years. "For the years we were apart, I felt kind of lost," Houston said to Davis, referring to her troubled past. "But I'm home where I truly belong, don't ya think?"

The audience went wild.

Pointing to Bobbi Kristina, her daughter with ex-husband Bobby Brown, Houston smiled, "There's my baby, my inspiration. Mama loves you so much."

Looking out to Berry, Houston cooed, "How's the baby?"

"Fantastic," Berry said.

And we have a feeling Houston's fans will be saying the same and a whole lot more when I Look to You drops on Sept. 1.

Seven Year Wait...

CNN: Houston makes a comeback with first album in seven years
July 24, 2009 -- Updated 2138 GMT (0538 HKT)
By Denise Quan, CNN

Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA (CNN) -- Whitney Houston swept into the room in full diva mode -- hair, makeup and entourage. She looked the part.  She smiled and cooed over mentor Clive Davis, calling him "Big Papa" and "Daddy" while the music mogul patted her arm like a proud parent.

The pair was in a side room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel just before the Los Angeles, California, listening session for "I Look to You," Houston's first album in seven years, scheduled to be released Sept. 1.

"I just took a break, which sometimes you have to," said Houston, 45, looking elegant in diamonds and a black Prada dress.  "You have to know when to slow that train down and kind of just sit back and relax for a minute."

This was definitely the old Whitney -- pre-troubled marriage to Bobby Brown and pre-comment to Diane Sawyer that "crack is wack."

Next door, several hundred industry folks, journalists and friends gathered in a ballroom surrounded by large screens emblazoned with the words, "The Wait is Over."

Jane Fonda, Halle Berry, Magic Johnson, Penny Marshall and Jackie Collins sat in the front while Barry Manilow, Brian McKnight and producer David Foster found seats in the back of the room.

Davis, who has steered Houston's career for more than 25 years, introduced each of the album tracks, mostly slick, upbeat, radio-friendly tunes penned by proven hit makers such as R. Kelly, Alicia Keys, Akon and Johnta Austin.

Heads bobbed while the songs thumped over the loudspeakers, with applause and cheers erupting after each cut. To the amusement of those seated in the audience, even Davis shook his shoulders behind his podium and pumped his fist to the beat from time-to-time.

A ballad on the new disc, "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," alludes to Houston's personal troubles in recent years.

The song, written especially for Houston by Diane Warren, includes the lyrics: I didn't know my own strength, And I crashed down and I tumbled, But I did not crumble.

Houston deftly steered the focus away from herself, saying she identified with the lyrics because everyone has been through ups and downs in lifeAt the end of the session, Houston stepped from the wings to a standing ovation.

"I'm humbled," she said, her hand on her heart. "There's so much love in the room." Then she joked, "Jane Fonda's at my listening party? How cool am I?"

AEG chairman and CEO Randy Phillips also was hanging around, no doubt ready to pounce on a chance to promote her next tour.

I think it's the biggest hit she's had," Barry Manilow said.

"It was really, really good," Stevie Wonder said. "God takes care of his children."

Embedded video from CNN Video  

Coming Out Party...

Los Angeles Times: Whitney Houston enjoys a coming-out party
July 24, 2009 | 5:39 pm

Celebrities and record-industry heavies get a preview of her comeback album. 'I Look to You' is scheduled to be released Sept. 1.

Whitney Houston did not have to sing a note Thursday night to spark a rousing ovation from a crowd of celebrities and record-industry heavyweights.

Houston -- whose hugely successful singing and acting career has been shadowed in the last several years by tabloid headlines, including her tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown and allegations of substance abuse -- made a triumphant appearance at the Beverly Hilton at the end of a preview of her upcoming comeback album, scheduled for release Sept. 1.

As the throbbing beat of her up-tempo version of Leon Russell's usually intimate ballad "A Song for You" filled the standing-room-only ballroom, Houston emerged from behind a curtain, smiling and clapping as some audience members danced in front of her.

Looking slim and wearing an elegantly simple knee-length black dress, Houston seemed genuinely moved by the reception from the audience -- an eclectic mix from the worlds of movies (Jane Fonda, Halle Berry and Penny Marshall, the last of whom directed Houston in 1996's "The Preacher's Wife"), music (Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Brian McKnight), industry honchos (Suzanne De Passe, Diane Warren and Richard Perry) and sports (Magic Johnson).

Also in attendance were several family members, including her teenage daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and a newly adopted son.

"God bless you all," Houston said, blowing kisses and stretching her hands out to the crowd. "I am humbled. Thank you all for coming." She seemed particularly excited when she spotted Berry and Fonda ("I almost croaked when I found out Jane Fonda was coming to my listening party. How cool am I?")

Coming after Houston's six-year absence from the studio, the album, "I Look to You," has long been enveloped by speculation about whether Houston has lost the vocal prowess and charisma that made her one of the most successful female singers of the last two decades.

That speculation has been fueled by some appearances in the past in which her singing voice sounded scratched and strained.

But music mogul Clive Davis -- who discovered Houston and has been spearheading her comeback, including a performance at his pre-Grammy party in February -- said the album should leave little doubt that Houston is still "one of the all-time great vocalists."

He said the album took more than three years to complete "because we kept wanting to set the bar high, in the tradition of the great vocalists, such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Lena Horne."

"I took my time," Houston later added.

Thursday night's unveiling came on the heels of listening parties in London and New York.

Before Davis presented the songs, a clip was shown of Houston performing some of her most popular hits, including "I Will Always Love You," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "One Moment in Time."

Her new album, based on the nine "unfinished versions" previewed, appears to be a mix of dance tunes, mid-tempo songs and power ballads, with state-of-the-art production surrounding Houston's confident, smooth stylings.

Writers and producers who worked on the album include Warren, David Foster, Akon and Alicia Keys. R. Kelly, who has his own notorious past, contributed two songs, including the title track, an ode to spirituality and a higher power.

Many of the songs were greeted enthusiastically, with the Keys-written "Million Dollar Bill" generating one of the loudest ovations.

Some of the songs appeared to subtly reference Houston's struggles. Warren's "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" contains the line "I was not built to break," and the singer said she related to the song because of her struggles as a single mother. In "Nothin' but Love," Houston maintains she has nothing but love for "the family that raised me, the teachers that praised me" and "even the ones who tried to break me."

She mentioned her troubled history during her remarks later that evening, when she paid an emotional tribute to Davis. "Those years when we were apart, I was lost," Houston said to Davis. "But now I'm home, where I belong."

--Greg Braxton

MUSIC SUPERSTARS: Sony exec Clive Davis, left, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder at the Beverly Hilton. Houston paid emotional tribute to Davis at the album preview. Both photos Associated Press.


Swizz Excited...

MTV: Swizz Beatz 'So Excited' To Work With Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys

'I was super happy,' Beatz says of the reaction his 'Million Dollar Bill' got at Houston's recent listening party.
By Shaheem Reid

NEW YORK — Swizz Beatz's music is about to hit hard again with tracks on upcoming albums by Jay-Z, DMX, Eve and, of course, Whitney Houston. Swizz was at Lincoln Center on Tuesday (July 21) as one of the attendees at the listening party for Houston's upcoming I Look to You. Swizz and Alicia Keys crafted a track for the project called "Million Dollar Bill," which is just screaming to be a first single.

Swizz started the process on the song four months ago when he got a call from Clive Davis and record executive Larry Jackson. They told Swizzy, "We're working with Whitney. Let's see what you have. We know you have something under your sleeve."

"I went to the office and vibed with Larry," Swizz explained. "I was like, 'She really sounds good. She's on her A-game.'

"At the time I was working on some stuff with Alicia," Swizz added. "I was like, 'We need to bring Whitney back. We need to do some stuff to support Whitney.' Then Alicia was like, 'I love Whitney, she's an icon. I would love to be a part of that.' I started vibing on different things. I didn't want to come with anything that would make her sound too old or too young. That's when I got the vibe to do something that had, like, a disco feel, but still with the hard drums on it — still musical but moving. I wanted to do something that was instant when it came on. Then I played the idea for Alicia to make sure I wasn't bugging out. 'Am I going too far with this?' She was like, 'Nah. That can be a big smash.' "

Swizz and Alicia then sat down and came up with lyrics.

"Million Dollar Bill" is all about the feelings new love can bring. And although the duo felt they had a strong single for the album, Houston and Davis had been choosy when it came to picking the songs for the album that has been over three years in the making. But Houston loved the tune.

"She was so excited Alicia wanted to be involved in her project," Swizz said. "More sisterly love-type of vibe. Like, 'Wow, one of my sisters that I respect in music is reaching out and helping when she could be doing a lot of other things in this world.' "

Keys and Beatz got Tony Maserati to mix the record, but were tweaking right up until the night of the listening party. Davis wanted the drums to be a little harder on the finished version, so Swizz had Maserati take the modulation off the song and turn the drums all the way up.

"I want this to be one of the biggest records of her comebacks," Swizz noted. "I want her to be onstage at the Grammys talking about this record."

At the listening party, the crowd cheered when the track came on.

"To get a standing ovation for a song we put so much work into was like, 'Wow,' " Beatz recalled. "That's why Alicia was taping [the listening party] — we're capturing the moments. We was like, 'We can't miss this, this is history.' I was super happy."

Whitney 'Truly Humbled'...

MTV: Whitney Houston 'Truly Humbled' By Listening-Party Turnout'
You've overwhelmed me. I hope you love it,' Houston said to the celebrity crowd gathered to hear the first tracks off of I Look to You.
By Shaheem Reid Jul 22 2009 4:13 PM EDT

Whitney Houston looked great and sounded even better Tuesday night in New York at her listening party for I Look to You. Houston waited until all nine new tracks were previewed at the event before she came out and addressed the people.

The Grammy-winner walked onstage and danced as her cover of "I Sing For You" played. She also went into the crowd and gave hugs and kisses to some family and friends. After the song, Houston took the mic.

"Thank you all for coming," she said, dressed in a black dress. "I'm truly humbled by this experience. I had other plans about three years ago to live on this little island and open a fruit stand."

Houston's long time mentor and label boss, Clive Davis, called her and had other plans around that time — he wanted her to sing again. Houston's mom Sissy echoed that sentiment, telling Whitney she was "tired of hearing what's on the radio" and "tired of people taking off their clothes."

The album took three and half years to record and still isn't quite finished. Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Akon, R. Kelly, Danja, Harvey Mason Jr., Tricky Stewart and Stargate are all confirmed as collaborators.

"I sang from my heart, my soul, my spiritual awareness. This is from me to all of you," she said to the crowd.

"You've overwhelmed me. I hope you love it."

Martha Stewart, Andre Harrell, Island/ Def Jam chairman L.A. Reid, journalist Diane Sawyer, Dionne Warwick, über-manager Benny Medina, R&B legend Freddie Jackson, comedian Steve Harvey and actress Vivica A. Fox were all in attendance in the Allen Room of Lincoln center.

The first ballad played was a song called "Didn't Know My Own Strength." It was written by Dianne Warren and produced by David Foster. "I thought I'd never make it through/ I had no hope to hold onto," Houston sings. "I didn't know my own strength/ And I crashed down/ I did not crumble/ I got through all the pain....I picked myself back up."

The title track is another powerful, uplifting song, penned by R. Kelly. In it, Houston sings, "As I lay me down/ Heaven hear me now ... After all I've been through/ who on earth can I look to?"

Kelly also wrote and produced "Salute," which deals with a breakup. "Call You Tonight," another song about love, was co-written by Johntá Austin and Stargate.

I Look to You is slated for a September 1 release.

Whitney: "I just want to be recognized for my music"...

Associated Press: Whitney Houston previews her new CD

Whitney Houston says her daughter's support helped fuel her as she geared up for her comeback record.

"She was with me every step of the way: `Mom, you can do this.' When I get discouraged and I get like, `This is tiring, this is wearing me out, I'm just not at that point,' she'd just go, `No, mom, you can do this, get up, get up,'" Houston said of 15-year-old Bobbi Kristina in an interview on Tuesday. "She encourages me and inspires me, when I look at her and I look at her eyes and I see myself, I go, `OK, I can do this. I can do this.'"

The 44-year-old superstar is releasing "I Look to You" on Sept. 1. It's her first album in years on Arista Records. On Tuesday evening, she premiered several tracks before an industry audience that included her only child, mother Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, Alicia Keys and Diane Sawyer.

Houston is one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, but her career stalled for years and her pop princess image imploded as she battled drugs and endured a troubled (and now defunct) marriage to Bobby Brown.

The singer did not allude to those problems as the reason for her layoff in her interview. Instead, she said she was more interested in raising her daughter than making another album.

"I kind of got comfortable with being left alone, just being a mom who would take her daughter off to school, and who would pick her up from school. I liked that vibe, I liked that feeling, because I never really had the opportunity," said Houston. "I was always traveling with her all the time."

She credits her mentor, music mogul Clive Davis, who worked with her on the album, with pushing her to come back to the recording studio.

"He called me one day and he said, `It's time.' And I said, `Time for what?' And he says, `Time for you to come back and sing for us again,'" she said. "It's very special and I feel humbled to be asked to do it again and want to be heard."

Davis previewed nine tracks at the event, including one song co-written by Alicia Keys and two by R. Kelly. David Foster, Diane Warren and Akon are also on the disc as writers and collaborators.

While Houston is relishing her return to the music, she says she's not quite ready to be back in the spotlight again.

"I am not geared for it. It goes along with the territory. I'm still going to remain the very quiet, private person I've been for the last 10 years," she said. "I just want to be recognized for my music and for what it does and how it inspires people and how it makes people feel as opposed to talking about Whitney all the time kind of thing. That's all done, it's passed and I would just like to be recognized for my music."

New York, New CD...

People: Whitney Houston Previews New Album
By Joey Bartolomeo
Originally posted Wednesday July 22, 2009 12:25 PM EDT

Whitney Houston's much-anticipated new album, I Look to You, doesn't hit stores until Sept. 1, but the singer gave a star-studded audience a sneak preview of nine songs on Tuesday night.

Diane Sawyer, Martha Stewart, Alicia Keys, Vivica A. Fox, and Oprah Winfrey's best friend Gayle King sat front and center at the listening party Tuesday night, hosted by Houston's longtime producer Clive Davis in New York City.

"It took us three-and-a-half years to reach this point," an energetic Houston told the crowd, which also included her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, 16, mother Cissy, and cousin Dionne Warwick. When she spotted King, she told her, "Please tell Oprah I said hello."

Among Houston's new tunes are "Million Dollar Bill," written by Keys and Swizz Beats, which Davis described as "a feel-good song." (Keys stood up, danced, and recorded the scene while the song was playing.)

Davis also previewed two ballads reminiscent of Houston's classic hits, one written by songwriting legend Diane Warren ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength") and one by R. Kelly, who also penned the beat-heavy "Salute."

Houston also collaborated with Akon for "Like I Never Left," which Davis said was the result of her request for "a great island song." Afterward Davis said of Houston – whose last album was released in 2002 – "You realize how much we miss her."

And that was obvious during the final track, a cover of the 1970's classic, "A Song For You," which Davis revealed had only been "completed rough last night." Sawyer led the audience to their feet, and the dancing lasted as Houston took the stage.

In her brief remarks, Houston said her mother had told her, " 'I'm tired of the old songs on the radio. I'm tired of people taking off their clothes … I want to hear a beautiful lyric and a beautiful melody.' And I just hope that what you heard tonight, that's what you got."

Whitney Houston is Back!...

Extra TV: Whitney Houston is Back!
Posted by ExtraTV Staff on July 22, 2009 9:31 AM

The wait is over! After a seven-year hiatus, Whitney Houston unleashed her new album for an all-star audience in New York City on Tuesday.

The songstress sat down with "Extra" and confessed that making music after a long break was a little uncomfortable at first. "When I first stepped into the studio, it felt a little funny. Like, 'I remember this. I know how to do this.' It felt good. I felt blessed," she recalled.

Music mogul Clive Davis got the ball rolling for Houston's comeback. Whitney says Davis told her, "Everybody's waiting. Everybody wants to hear you sing again." Whitney gave in and tells "Extra," "I had other plans." She admits when Davis said they were going to record an album, she wanted to go to an island and she'd be content selling strawberries at a fruit stand.

Instead, the 45-year-old chart-topper recorded the very personal album, I Look to You.

I Look to You hits stores Sept. 1

Inside Whitney's CD...

New York Post PopWrap: Inside Whitney Houston's Comeback CD

Face it, the world has made tons of far-our promises -- flying cars, robot maids, food pills -- only to deliver in the crappiest way possible. However, fresh from its hazy, lazy hibernation of lies, the future is finally ready to deliver on one promise: the guaranteed diva resurgence that comes in the form of 11 new full-of-fierce Whitney Houston tracks.

Last night, PopWrap was invited to a special listening event, where a stunning Whitney previewed nine tracks from her upcoming comeback album, "I Look To You." The 200-person crowd consisted of Alicia Keys, Benny Medina, Gayle King, L.A. Reid, Martha Stewart, Steve Harvey, Vivica A. Fox, Diane Sawyer, and of course her mentor Clive Davis.

Right out of the gate, we heard "Million Dollar Bill," which displayed Houston's billion-dollar voice over a convertible-top-down Swizz Beats track. Blending a rough-riding thump with classic R&B elements, we knew in that instant: She. Was. Back.
The song's writer/producer Alicia Keys showed her true down-to-earth colors as she got up and danced -- while taking videos with her flipcam -- as the words she wrote inked history in the books of pop. If Clive has any sense, this energetic entry will be her first single.

"If he makes you feel like a million-dollar bill, say, 'Oh, oh/ Oh, oh,' " she quips on the hook. "It's been a long time since love has come my way. I've been looking and searching for a man to touch this place." Oh man, my skin is still recovering from too many goose-bumps.

Whitney's whole album sounds just like its debut track. Remarkable.

As the listening party kicked into full swing, other hits bumped through the speakers, like a re-make of the classic "A Song For You," a brass drum island single "Like I Never Left," produced by and featuring Akon and a girl-power anthem "Salute" by R. Kelly. But there are plenty of ballads to be found, like the title track "I Look To You," -- also penned by R.Kelly -- which turned the crowd of stiff, snobby execs into a pool of sappy, vulnerable children.

So prepare, my friends, for the return of Whitney Houston that we were all promised so long ago, because it is coming. Baton down the hatches, pack that last box of tissue and call your favorite people to let them know your location because for the first two hours of September 1, you'll be in your apartment getting your groove back.

Good Looks & Music...

Dose.ca: We Look to NYC for Whitney Houston's Album Party; Yes, She's Looking Good. Same Goes For the Music
Leah Collins
Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"You could feel she was in the room before you saw her, and you knew she was gone even if you hadn't seen her leave": That's what David Foster -- the producer behind hits such as "I Have Nothing" once said of Whitney Houston.

Having been in the same room as her, I can't say that my senses are as preternaturally tuned as those of the Canadian superproducer. Still, as proven Tuesday night at an industry event in New York City (where we were guests of Sony Music), Houston is fully capable of raising an audience to their feet -- without even saying, never mind singing, a word.

Houston made an appearance at New York's Allen Room Tuesday night, breaking what's been a long absence to preview nine as-yet-unfinished tracks from her new album, I Look To You.

The record's on track for a September 1 release. It's her first since 2002's Just Whitney -- and if the seven-year delay wasn't enough reason to begin labelling this one a comeback, you just have to consider her woes over the past few years: multiple trips to rehab, cancelled performances, Being Bobby Brown.

The audience -- which included celebrity friends (such as Martha Stewart, Alicia Keys, Gayle King) and family (mother Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick) -- were there for the new music. But the main event was Houston herself -- even if she wouldn't be performing, just using that capital-v Voice of hers to deliver a few on-message soundbites about her return ("I had plans three years ago to live on an island and open a fruit stand. ... But then I got a call from Clive [Davis] and he said, 'No. That's not what you're going to do'") and a flurry of effusive "thank-yous."

As you may have heard after her last public appearance (at a similar industry event held in London, England on June 14) Houston's successfully banished the Skeletor image that went along with her troubled recent years. Never mind the fact we got the photographic evidence last week; Tuesday's event treated an eyeful of a healthy-looking, on-her-game Houston as the main event.

You want old-fashioned spectacle? How about having a curtain raised to reveal her bounding onstage (the curtain also happened to reveal a floor-to-ceiling view of Central Park, in case Whitney alone wasn't enough of a theatrical flair). Yes, she looks fit and fashionable (appearing on stage in a high-necked liquid-vinyl dress and killer silver and black laquered heels) -- and if her constant pacing of the stage was any indication, she's likely a bit nervous about re-entering the glaring spotlight, too.

She was smiling her brightest when greeting friends and family from the stage; teenage daughter Bobbi Kristina walked up to the stage to give her mom a peck on the cheek.

Curiously, it was Diane Sawyer whom Houston made a beeline for first, leaning into the front row to embrace her. Apparently that would be a very public cue that there's no hard feelings about that November 2002 "crack is wack" interview. Or maybe she's just as eager as you might expect to alert the media she's back in the game. If anything, she has the right connections. As Houston joked, leaning towards guest Gayle King, O Magazine editor-at-large and the queen of TV's long-time bestie, "Gayle, it's so good to see you. Please tell Oprah I say hello."

But lest we forget Houston has moved more than 140 million records off her many hits, the "listening event" was ostensibly all about the music. Clive Davis, Sony Music's chief creative officer and the album's producer, introduced each of the songs. It's a varied collection, offering entry points for whatever incarnation of Houston you prefer. There are a potential nu-disco anthems ("Million Dollar Bill"), R&B slow jams ("Call You Tonight," "Worth It"), and, yes, a few of those stand-your-hair-on-end ballads ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength," "I Look to You") that'll give American Idol wannabes fodder for years to come.

The lyrics hardly read like an episode of Behind the Music, but the comeback sentiment is fittingly trotted out time and time again. Titles such as "Like I Never Left" and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" speak for themselves (the latter features the chorus: "I crashed out and I tumbled/ but I did not crumble"). Despite the recurring theme, the R. Kelly written "Salute" -- which paints Houston as a "soldier girl" who "took a fall" only to "make it through" -- will have none of the C-word. "Don't call it a comeback/I've been here for years," she spits out on one of the verses.

The Alicia Keys-written, Swizz Beatz-produced "Million Dollar Bill" -- which past reports have tipped as the album's lead single -- started the listening session on a hard-to-top high, though. Opening with Houston's inimitable vocals oh-oh-oh-ing over a delicious disco beat, it's a slap in the face: a statement that a diva is back and -- dust off that "I'm Every Woman" cassingle -- could just be re-inventing herself as a clubland queen.

Keys, who was seated in the VIP section near the front of the stage, helped shove the moment over the top, getting on her feet to lead a spontaneous chair-dancing session. Don't question Keys' claim as a multi-talent; she also managed to get her mini-party on video. (We expect to see some footage of the singer grooving with fellow guest Martha Stewart on her site any minute).

As for the "Voice," it still lets loose on the ballads. Actress Vivica A. Fox told us after the presentation that the title track was her favourite of the bunch, saying that after listening to the song: "I really feel she's reenergized herself as a woman first ... but more importantly as a recording artist."

As far as material that showcases Houston's vocal chops goes, it's a cover of Leon Russell's "A Song For You" that got our synapses firing. As Davis revealed, the rough cut played Tuesday was finished just the day prior, but it's the one where Houston's talent as an interpreter really raises hairs and tingles spines. The fact that it breaks into a '90s-style house beat mid-way through only adds to the drama.

Houston and Davis are expected to host a similar event in L.A. later this month.

I Look To You Tracklist:

1. Million Dollar Bill
2. Nothin' But Love
3. Call You Tonight
4. I Look To You
5. Like I Never Left (feat. Akon)
6. A Song For You
7. I Didn't Know My Own Strength
8. Worth It
9. For The Lovers
10. I Got You
11. Salute



Pictures from Whitney Houston's New York Listening Event for 'I Look To You'...





Whitney Returns...

Rolling Stone: Whitney Houston Returns: Diva Debuts “I Look to You” in New York
7/22/09, 9:08 am EST

It looked like the ’90s. It felt like the ’90s. It even sort of smelled like the rich and thriving ’90s. And for one brief evening it was, as J/RCA Records celebrated the return of their crown jewel, Whitney Houston. And they did it in style. At a lavish, star-studded listening event legendary record man Clive Davis, Chief Creative Officer of Sony Entertainment Worldwide presented nine tracks from Houston’s new album, I Look To You, to a crowd of nearly 500 at the Allen Room in midtown Manhattan’s Time Warner Center.

It has been seven years since Houston released a studio album, 2002’s Just Whitney. In that time she’s faced some daunting personal struggles, including allegations about drug use, some shockingly candid appearances on her then-husband’s Bravo reality show, Being Bobby Brown, and a 2007 divorce from Brown. Rumors have also been floated that her historically powerful singing voice has begun to fade. Hearing I Look To You, a modern-sounding and crisply produced comeback, should prove any doubters wrong. Whitney’s voice is as soaring and capable of gliding power as it was 25 years ago when Davis first began work with the singer.

Standing behind a podium on a stage decorated only with a chair to sit in as the music played, Davis discussed I Look To You’s long journey. “We’ve been working for three years,” he said. “You have to wait for great songs to show up. I understand this is an artificial setting. But this is what we’ve done.”

The night’s first song was also its feistiest. Written and produced by new industry power couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, “Million Dollar Bill” is a clattering, uptempo hip-hop-inspired number. It may be the fastest ever for Houston, who keeps up nicely, even if it occasionally sounds like the balladeer is doing some stretching. The song set off a frenzy in the hall, sending Martha Stewart, Houston’s cousin Dionne Warwick, Oprah pal Gayle King, and Keys into ecstatic dance. It received a standing ovation. It also set the tone for much of the album.

With contributions from Akon (the tropical “Like I Never Left,” which leaked last year), Norwegian R&B hitmakers Stargate (”Call You Tonight”) and two tracks from R. Kelly (the chippy kiss-off “Salute” and the steely title track produced by Tricky Stewart and Harvey Mason Jr.) Houston seems to be aiming for a younger audience and the radio. Though her pipes are always up front — seven of the nine songs have booming vocal bridges — it’s rhythm that drives the album. One exception is the recently leaked “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.” Written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster, it is a classic Houston ballad: tenacious, swelling, a bit corny.

One thing that nearly every song has in common is theme. The writers on the album — Johnta Austin, Kelly, Warren — watched Houston’s struggles in recent years and have written songs that reflect a sense of perseverance and redemption. “I want you to love me like I never left,” she sings, winking at her fans.

Whitney finally appeared after the conclusion of the last song, a house-y cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.” Striding onto the stage in a shimmering vinyl dress, Houston was gracious and beaming, thanking everyone and blowing kisses before talking about Davis and her mother Cissy’s encouragement to restart her career. She was brief. But it was unmistakable: Whitney is back.

Sean Fennessey


New York Listening Event...

MTV: Whitney Houston Debuts I Look To You At NYC Listening Party
Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, L.A. Reid and others help welcome back the diva, who hasn't released a studio album in six years.
By Shaheem Reid

NEW YORK — Swizz Beatz has a thing for millions. He produced and is featured on Maino's "Million Bucks," and now the superproducer has given Whitney Houston a beat for the song "Million Dollar Bill."

Swizz and the song's writer, Alicia Keys, were in the Allen Room in Manhattan's Lincoln Center on Tuesday night (July 21) at a listening event for Houston's first studio LP in six years, I Look to You, along with L.A. Reid, Martha Stewart, Diane Sawyer and others.

Clive Davis presented the album and told a story of how Keys asked him personally to write for the album.

Right from the start, "Million Dollar Bill" displays Houston's billion-dollar voice over a club-friendly Swizz track that blends a rough-riding thump with R&B. Keys got up and danced while taking video with her personal camera as the words she wrote boomed through the speakers.

Houston sings of looking for love and finding a man with potential. "If he makes you feel like a million-dollar bill, say, 'Oh, oh/ Oh, oh,' " she sings on the hook. "It's been a long time since love has come my way. I've been looking and searching for a man to touch this place."

Later, Whitney commands people to dance if they're experiencing good love right now.

"Throw one hand in the air/ Left, right, up, down/ Got you spinning all around, say, 'Oh, oh/ Oh, oh.' "

The audience gave the record a rousing round of applause when it was done.

"Million Dollar Bill" was the first of nine songs Davis played from the album, one of which is a cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You." The beat was remixed with a dance/club vibe, inspiring the people in the audience to stand up and dance and clap. Houston walked out, dancing and clapping as the record played.

R. Kelly wrote and produced a record called "Salute." The Pied Piper also wrote the title track, which is produced by Tricky Stewart and Harvey Mason Jr.

The power ballad "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" was written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster.



Whitney Houston and Clive Davis talk to ET at the New York Listening Event for 'I Look To You':

Whitney Debuts CD & Gets ABC Special...

Showbiz411 Roger Friedman: Whitney Houston Debuts New CD, Gets ABC Special
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Music / By Roger Friedman

Whitney Houston’s new CD, “I Look to You,” got the star treatment tonight. Music mogul Clive Davis played nine tracks from the album, due Sept. 1, for an A-list audience at Jazz at Lincoln Center. When he was done, Houston walked out and got a standing ovation and cheers.

She deserved it, too. The nine songs — there will be 11 altogether — are solid tracks, with several tipped as potential hit singles.

I also found out that Houston has signed with ABC for a special that will air the last week of August, right before her album is released.

In the very buzzy crowd: Alicia Keys, who wrote and produced “Million Dollar Bill,” a surefire hit that got a huge response; Diane Sawyer, who’s having Whitney on “Good Morning America”; plus actress Vivica Fox, Gayle King, Martha Stewart, Nikki Haskell, and lots of family. Whitney brought along mom Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, and daughter Bobbi Kristina, who’s blossomed into a beautiful young woman.

Also there were many heavyweights from the music biz including L.A. Reid, Charles Koppelman, and Andre Harrell, whom RCA Records chief Barry Weiss called “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” for reasons of his own.

But it was Whitney’s night. She looked stunning and a little stunned as the audience warmly embraced her and welcomed the new songs. Besides the Alicia Keys hit, the the standouts include an absolute knock-out cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,” which could do for Whitney what “Let’s Stay Together” did for Tina Turner’s 1984 comeback. There’s also a sleeper mid-tempo number called “Nothin’ but Love,” two excellent tracks from R. Kelly including the beautiful title song, and Diane Warren’s David Foster-produced “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”

During the Keys track, by the way, Alicia — dressed in black and looking hot — got up and boogeyed around from her seat, and took some video on a Flip camera.

For her part, Whitney got big laughs when she told the invited audience, “I had a plan to go to an island and start a fruit stand.” She said neither her mother nor Davis would allow her to do that. “My mother said, ‘I’m tired of hearing your voice on the radio. I want to hear new songs.’ ”

Davis, remarkable for pulling off this coup, spoke off the cuff before he played the songs. Why, after so many years and so much success, is he still making these albums and coaxing these stars to be as good as they can be?

“I keep doing it because music has been my passion,” he said. “And the report cards have been good.”

Tonight, as usual, he got an A.


Album Track Sequence Confirmed...

whitneyhouston.com: "I Look To You" Album Sequence!

Whitney's new album, "I Look To You," will feature 11 brand new tracks along with a star-studded list of contributers. Remember to join Whitney's Email List to be the first to get album updates and more!

I Look To You (available Sept. 1)

1. Million Dollar Bill
2. Nothin' But Love
3. Call You Tonight
4. I Look To You
5. Like I Never Left (feat. Akon)
6. A Song For You
7. I Didn't Know My Own Strength
8. Worth It
9. For The Lovers
10. I Got You
11. Salute

London Video...

whitneyhouston.com: Whitney and Clive in London as they unveil Whitney's long-awaited release, "I Look To You."

: 20 JULY 2009

Houston's Back...

Guardian: Houston, I'm Back From Space
Tim Adams
The Observer, Sunday 19 July 2009

The Voice, as she is also known, makes an exclusive London appearance to premiere her comeback album. Tim Adams sneaks past the limo to get a listen

On Tuesday evening in a chandeliered conference room at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Knightsbridge in London, a gathering from the music industry was packed in, sipping champagne, waiting to hear The Voice. The Voice had been silent for five years and the crowd was here for a reason: could The Voice, after all it had been through, still do its thing?

I was outside on the pavement, late, having failed to gain entry because The Voice was due to arrive "imminently". A different crowd had gathered around a rug-sized red carpet. There were doormen with earpieces. Everyone looked down the street, alert for signs of The Voice's approach. When it appeared it was in a limo with blacked-out windows, and it was hustled quickly inside amid bodyguards. A few among the small crowd shouted out to The Voice, but The Voice just smiled, and said nothing.

Inside, the man who discovered The Voice, took to the stage. This was Clive Davis the former boss of Arista Records. Mr Davis was not slow to tell the room that he had discovered many other voices in his time, including those of Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen, but none of those voices were The Voice. The Voice was something different. He had first heard it in a nightclub, when Whitney Houston, the owner of The Voice, was only 17. After that he had nurtured The Voice, chosen songs for it, placed it in a pantheon of voices that included those of Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald, The Voices of earlier times.

As Mr Davis spoke, some images of The Voice in action appeared on TV screens set up around the room. Words accompanied the images: "She will always love you," the words said, and "She's every woman". When the words appeared everyone in the room could hear The Voice inside their heads.

For a long time it had appeared that was where The Voice was going to stay, Davis suggested. But three or four years ago, he had phoned and told The Voice what it secretly wanted to hear: that people really wanted to listen to it again. Whitney Houston took some persuading, though; she had gone through a lot of "what life can bring", sometimes she had not looked after The Voice as well as she might have done. She had thought perhaps it was time for her and her daughter to forget about The Voice, "and open a fruit stall on some island". But eventually she agreed.

After a while, Clive Davis played a track from the album they had made, written by Alicia Keys, who had been inspired by The Voice. It was a poppy song called "Million Dollar Bill", and The Voice, though recognisable, sounded unremarkable. Other tracks followed, an "island" song, in which The Voice is swamped by the voice of the rapper Akon, a "God" song written by R Kelly, "I Look To You". The more tracks Davis played, the more The Voice seemed slowly to come to life again. In The Voice's finest hour Houston was singing, we learn, to her unborn child: "I will always love you … ". For her new track "I Don't Know My Own Strength" she had in mind facing up to life "as a single mum for the first time": "I crashed out and stumbled/But I didn't crumble … ".

To a standing ovation Whitney then appeared on the stage, looking buffed and polished, like a statuette on her stork legs. She air-kissed Clive, she did an arms outstretched seal clap to London, and London (or at least the part of it that was in this ballroom) clapped back. "I couldn't be more honoured and more humbled," she said, in a voice that so excruciatingly sincere that it suggested she was neither. Nobody minded. The Voice was making a comeback.

Album Preview...

Sunday Mirror: Dean Piper - My preview of the new Whitney Houston album
By Dean Piper on July 19, 2009 2:20 AM

I managed to bag an invite to one of the biggest and most exciting events of the year so far - the exclusive playback of Whitney Houston's eagerly awaited new album I Look To You.

Each track was introduced by legendary producer Clive Davis at the swanky bash at the Mandarin Oriental.

I've finally got around to giving you a little taster of what to expect from the new sound on the album.

Oh, and by the way - this is not a review -and I'm not some music expert..but I do know my pop music (and I know good pop) so it's purely a brief description of each track we were allowed to listen too.

Here's my track by track run down.

1. Million Dollar Bill - reminds me of a summer track like Janet Jackson's The Best Things In Life Are Free. It was pure smile factor and a real feel good anthem. Vocals were ace.

2. Nuthin But Love - Produced by danger and wasn't finished in it's entirety. It's up tempo and really has that perfect Whitney vocal. Her vocal qualities are really shown off on this one.

3. Call You Tonight - This track is huge - very catchy chorus and produced by the award winning Stargate. I liked this one more than most.

4. I Didn't Know My Own Strength - Written by Diane Warren this reminded me of Spice Girls track Headlines in a way. Clive Davis told the audience that Whitney had chosen this song because it was at a time when Whitney had first discovered that she had become a strong single mother.

5. Like I Never Left (feat. Akon) - This track was described as a pure island track. It's fine if you like Akon - but personally he makes me want to poke needles in my head. It's a good song for radio though. But not her finest hour.

6. For The Lovers - The last track that the star has been working on - it was only finished last weekend apparently and needs some tinkering but it's a good track too. Full of attitude.

7. I Look To You - Penned by R Kelly I think this one's a grower. Her vocals are in good shape for this one but the lyrics are not the most amazing ever. It's an OK track but still seems to miss a little magic for me.

8. Worth It - Produced by Eric Hudson. This is smooth and silky pure R+B. It's a good album track but not a single. It reminded me of an En Vogue cast off. In a good way.

9. A Song For You - This is pure pop and a total GAY style gay anthem. It made the entire room want to jump up and remember the days when I'm Every Woman was in the charts. It'll be a fans favourite and she sounds awesome.

Just a reminder - the album's not finished or mastered and Whitney's still recording. If I was given the album as it stands with this track list then I'd be happy. But whether it would end up being an album for a lifetime is another thing. It's a good start for Whitney - but I want something more within the final finished product.

It's exceedingly good to have Miss Houston back - and she's more then ready for action.



The Comeback...

Telegraph: Whitney Houston: The Comeback
By Neil McCormick
Last updated: July 15th, 2009

If the last couple of weeks in pop music have been dominated by the death of a superstar, this week marked at least the beginning of the return of another. Whitney Houston was in London for a playback of tracks from her forthcoming album, ‘I Look At You’, her first release since 2003.

Houston’s fall from grace has been well chronicled, when her image went from girl next door to gaunt, confused, drug-addled diva (who famously declared “crack is wack”). But since her divorce from R&B singer Bobby Brown in 2007, she has apparently been making concerted efforts to put her life back on track.

Although she didn’t perform, Houston looked in good shape. There was a slightly heart stopping moment when, whilst making a schmaltzy speech (“I love London, you and I go back”), a small, coloured lump of something dropped from about her person onto the stage. Houston stared at this suspicious object, then bent to pick it up, announcing, “I really wanted that piece of candy! But frig it, it happens!” It was certainly better than the alternative, but somehow did not quite dispel all doubts about the extent of her recovery. She strayed from the script when she revealed recording sessions became so fraught, executive producer Clive Davis called her the most impossible person he had ever worked with. Given that Davis’s curriculum vitae includes Janis Joplin and Aerosmith, this was saying something. “I’ll accept that,” commented Houston. “I take that as a compliment.”

On the tracks we heard, Houston’s voice (surely the most important part of the equation) sounded rich and strong, although a little huskier. It has all the famous ululating flexibility of yore but I kept waiting for the big key change and power note, which never arrives. These days, when she goes for the highest register, she does it with soft falsetto. Many tracks sounded over-thought and contrived, from a Diane Warren power ballad ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’ (full of self-referencing lines like ‘I did not crumble”, “I was not built to break”) to a host of club friendly contributions from contemporary stars, including Alicia Keys and R Kelly. I am not quite sure what a gospel soul singer once acclaimed as “The Voice” is doing duetting with Akon, the new king of autotune. Best of the bunch was an old fashioned hi energy disco version of Leon Russell’s ballad ‘A Song For You’, on which Houston really sounds like she’s enjoying herself, and not trying too hard to prove she’s back and she’s still hip.

: 17 JULY 2009

Top Shop Diva...

London Evening Standard: Sir Philip Green opens up Topshop for Whitney Houston

Billionaire Sir Philip Green opened the doors of his flagship Topshop store so that Whitney Houston could have a private shopping spree. The retail mogul handed the Oxford Street store over to the singer, who was allowed to take as much as she wanted for free.

Whitney, 45, had just showcased her comeback album to a select audience in Knightsbridge, and wound down with some extreme retail therapy.
A source told us last night: “Whitney looked like a kid in a candy shop. She met Sir Philip at a fashion show in 2007 and they have remained in touch.

“Whitney invited him to the exclusive playback of her new album at the Mandarin Oriental hotel last night, and he was so impressed that he offered her the VIP Topshop trip.”

You heard it here girls — if you want the shopping spree of your dreams, all you have to do is record your own top-notch record and play it to Sir Phil at a swanky hotel.

Our source continued: “Sir Philip kept the shop open immediately after closing time, and gave all of the staff crisp £50 notes as a thank you for staying on.

“Whitney grabbed bags and bags of stuff, but only chose one item of clothing for herself. She was overheard saying her 16-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina likes Topshop, so chose everything for her — except for a Union Jack cardigan which she chose for herself.

“Whitney looked ecstatic, and happily posed with staff for pictures and signed autographs for them.”

At her album launch party earlier in the evening, Whitney was so nervous she refused to be in the room where the album was played.

Our spy said: “There were music press from around the world and VIP guests present. Whitney was so nervous she was hiding behind a door while everyone listened, but then emerged in a black and white dress and thanked everyone for coming.”

The album, I Look To You, is Whitney's first in seven years. The title song was written by R. Kelly.


: 16 JULY 2009

'I Look To You' Album Cover Unveiled...


Songs & Cover Debuted...

Rolling Stone: Whitney Houston Debuts “I Look To You” Songs, Album Cover
7/15/09, 5:31 pm EST

Whitney Houston premiered tracks from her upcoming album I Look To You last night at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Clive Davis, who discovered the singer and shepherded her career, was also on hand to present nine unfinished songs from the LP, Billboard reports. Houston also officially unveiled the album’s cover art today (see above). As Rolling Stone previously reported, I Look To You — Houston’s first non-Christmas LP since 2002’s Just Whitney — will be released September 1st.

“When Clive called me I was pretty ready to buy my island home [and retire] but he said, ‘No, you’re going to sing again, people want to hear you,’ ” Whitney reportedly told the audience at the Mandarin Oriental. New song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” which was written by Grammy winner Diane Warren and produced by “I Have Nothing” producer David Foster, leaked several weeks ago. Other collaborators on I Look To You reportedly include Alicia Keys, Stargate, R. Kelly and Akon, who features on the track “Like I Never Left,” Billboard writes.

The album also reportedly includes possible first single “Call You Tonight,” “Million Dollar Bill,” “Nuthin’ But Love,” the R. Kelly-penned title track, “Worth It,” “For the Lovers” and a rendition of Leon Russell’s oft-covered 1970 hit “A Song For You.” Davis made mention that the album was not yet complete and that many of the songs were still under construction. A press release for the album indicates similar listening events will be staged in Los Angeles and New York next week.




London Premiere...

Billboard: Whitney Houston Premieres New Album In London
July 15, 2009 09:12 AM ET
Mark Sutherland, London

Whitney Houston appeared at the world premiere of her new album, "I Look to You" (Arista), in London last night (July 14).

A healthy-looking Houston appeared briefly on stage at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge after Sony Music chief creative officer Clive Davis played nine tracks from the album, due to be released Sept. 1 in the U.S. The U.K. release is via RCA on Aug. 31.

Houston thanked Davis for his work on the album, saying: "When Clive called me I was pretty ready to buy my island home [and retire] but he said, 'No, you're going to sing again, people want to hear you.'"

Describing the album as "a labor of love" she said: "I hope that these songs stay with you for a lifetime."

Davis - who worked with Houston for the first time in 10 years on the album - stressed the album is "by no means done," while many of the songs played were still in unfinished form.

"We didn't try to fit Whitney Houston into the market," Davis said. "The copyrights associated with Whitney in the 1980s and '90s are part of the fabric of music today."

Nonetheless, collaborators on the album read like a who's who of contemporary pop/R&B, with songwriters and producers including Alicia Keys, Diane Warren, Stargate, R Kelly and Akon, who duets with Houston on "Like I Never Left."

The tracks played were "Million Dollar Bill," "Nuthin' But Love," "Call You Tonight" (which Davis said was a likely lead single), "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," "Like I Never Left," "For the Lovers," "I Look to You," "Worth It" and a cover of Leon Russell's "A Song for You."

The overall feel of the album was notably contemporary, while retaining Houston's trademark vocal flourishes. The up-tempo songs "Nuthin' But Love" and "A Song for You" received the best reaction from the invited audience of international media, while Davis particularly praised slower songs like the Warren-penned ballad "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" and R Kelly's title track, hailing Houston as "the premium balladeer of our time."

Whit a Minute...

The Sun: Whit a minute, that's Houston

By TIM NIXON, Published: 15 Jul 2009

WHITNEY HOUSTON is clearly ready to dance with somebody again.

Back in 2005, the singer appeared dishevelled and fragile following mounting rumours she'd become addicted to crack cocaine.

Fast forward four years and Whitney's resurrected the glammed-up pop diva who first shot to fame in the 1980s.

Showing off a healthy complexion and classy clothes, the star was all smiles at last night's London playback of her comeback album I Look To You - due for release on August 31.

Houston, we no longer have a problem...

Stop Press...

whitneyhouston.com: Check Out the Press Highlights from Whitney's Listening Event in London!

Whitney's listening event in London last night was a star-studded affair, filled with VIP and Press.  The event was a massive success, but don't take our word for it... here's what the press had to say:

Whitney Houston pictured flying out of London Heathrow Airport earlier today:


Madge & Whitney...

TMZ: Madge & Whitney: 2 Divas, 1 Dress
Posted Jul 15th 2009 2:31PM by TMZ Staff

With only two nations and the English Channel separating them, Madonna (in Milan) & Whitney Houston (in London) both wore the same Dolce & Gabbana dress last night. Hell to the no!


: 15 JULY 2009

Manish at Album Playback & London Premiere of 'I Look To You'...

My full account of the day and initial observations of the nine songs that were played can be read here.

'I Look To You' - London Premiere...

Dazzling Return...

Daily Mail: Dazzling Whitney Houston makes a triumphant return to spotlight after seven years

By Lizzie Smith
Created 8:40 PM on 14th July 2009 Last updated at 12:28 AM on 16th July 2009

For much of the decade Whitney Houston has been out of the spotlight, fighting to get her once charmed life back under control.  But as she arrived in Britain last night, it seemed the tide has turned for the soul singer - as she returned to her dazzling best.

Her gaunt and ravaged look had gone and the polished professional who won millions of fans with songs such as I Will Always Love You was back with a big smile.  And a new album, of course.

The 45-year-old arrived last night to launch I Look To You, her first studio CD in seven years, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London's Knightsbridge. She wore a black belted mac which she removed once inside to reveal a flattering black and white Dolce & Gabbana dress. The crowd, including Top Shop billionaire Sir Phillip Green, gave Whitney a standing ovation.

Tracks have already been leaked on the internet, where they have met with a mixed response - the most critical claiming her voice has been ruined. But music mogul Clive Davis, who discovered the soul diva 25 years ago, disagrees. 'You won't forget it after you hear it,' he said, calling the album a labour of love for all involved.  'There is a song on this album which is called "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" and it really speaks for Whitney. 'She tumbled but she didn't crumble.'

In 2001, Houston shocked fans with her gaunt appearance at a Michael Jackson tribute concert in New York. In December 2002, she admitted she had experimented with drugs and alcohol during an interview with American broadcaster Diane Swayer on ABC. 'I don't like to think of myself addicted... I had a bad habit which can be broken. I'm not gonna tell you I'm somebody's junkie. My business is sex, drugs, rock and roll. Trust me. I partied my tail off.'

Despite her denials, she checked into rehab in Georgia two years later. But since splitting from ex-husband Bobby Brown in 2006 and winning custody of their daughter Bobbi Kristina, Houston has been steadily planning her comeback with the help of J Records boss Davis. And anyone can win her fans back it should be Grammy-winner Whitney. She is the only artist ever to have had seven consecutive multi-platinum albums, beating even the Beatles. Worldwide she has sold 140 million albums and 50 million singles, with I Will Always Love You, released in 1993, becoming one of the biggest selling records of all time.


Clive Davis On GMA...

whitneyhouston.com: Clive Davis Talks About New Whitney Album on GMA!

Clive Davis sat down with Good Morning America this week to discuss Whitney Houston's exciting new album, I Look To You. Whitney will be launching this year's Fall Concert Series on GMA with a special performance of songs from the new album. This is the show you don't want to miss! Click here to watch a video for Whitney's highly anticipated GMA performance.

You Won't Forget Whitney...

ABC News: Clive Davis: 'You Won't Forget' Whitney Houston's New Album
Legendary Music Producer Says Houston's New Songs Highlight Her Strength

July 14, 2009

Whitney Houston is the most honored female artist of all time. She's the only artist ever to have seven consecutive multi-platinum albums, beating out even the Beatles. And now the man who has been with her from the start is talking about her comeback and sharing his memories of her extraordinary career.

Legendary music producer Clive Davis remembers Houston as that young girl who first gave us her remarkable sound, made famous in songs like "The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You."

Just the name Whitney Houston brings to mind that voice: the musical range, the enormous range of emotion, and a kind of power that can make a perfect arrow out of just one note.

"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club called Sweet Waters right here in Manhattan ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer. "To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine."

Houston made the same impact across the country when introduced for the first time on television, 25 years ago.  "I remember going on Merv Griffin's show and I remember introducing Whitney for the first time," Davis said. "Whitney came on and she sang the song 'Home' from 'The Wiz,' and that was our first public performance together."

Even with Houston's debut success and enormous talent, it took two years to release her first album.  "People say, 'what takes so long?'" Davis said. "You've got to make sure that no matter how outstanding an artist is ... If you don't have special material, if you don't have the right material, you're not going to make the impact that you want to make."

Houston's first single, "You Give Good Love" went to number one on the Billboard charts. Then came a string of number one hits -- seven in all -- breaking a record set by the Beatles.  "When you are breaking records like that you really have to pinch yourself," Davis said.

Houston was also the first artist to make a chart-topping hit out of the national anthem.  Her performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV in 1991 was recorded and sold as a fundraising effort for Gulf War soldiers, and it hit number 20 on the Billboard charts.   "Certainly, 'The Star Spangled Banner' is one of those vivid memories of America, indeed everyone everywhere, of hearing our national anthem performed in that manner," Davis said. "It was a stunning memory."

But for Davis, the making of the film "The Bodyguard" remains perhaps his fondest memory.   "When the first rush of 'The Bodyguard' was sent to me, there was little, if any, music at all," he said. "I mean, her acting was decent. It was good, but it was not bravura.

"I wrote a letter to the director and I said you've got to go back, you've got to shoot again," he continued. "We'll come up with music, we'll come up with great songs to show who Whitney is and what she is and why she needs to be protected by a bodyguard. And the director at the time didn't get it. He fought it."

But co-star Kevin Costner shared Davis' vision -- the director was fired and they changed the film.   "Of course, the rest is history because the songs are such a part of the film," he said. "The album has become the best-selling soundtrack album of all time."

And now more than seven years since we last heard from Houston, she's releasing a new album in September, titled "I Look to You."

"What I want the public to most know is that there's always room for creative artistry, there's always room for a great all-time singer," he said. "An all-time singer singing great songs."   The man who discovered her says he wants to show that Houston "still stands for the best of song writing, the best of singing -- and we know the public wants it."

"You won't forget it after you hear it," Davis said, calling the album a labor of love for all involved. "There is a song on this album which is called 'I Didn't Know My Own Strength' and it really speaks for Whitney. She tumbled but she didn't crumble."

: 14 JULY 2009

Flying Out...

Whitney Houston was snapped at Los Angeles International airport today taking a Delta flight out:

: 3 JULY 2009


ABC: Grammy Award-Winning Superstar Whitney Houston Is Coming to "GMA"!
The Multi-Talented Singer Will Appear on the Popular Morning Show

This morning, "Good Morning America" announced that the one and only Whitney Houston is coming to "GMA"! Houston will kickoff "Good Morning America's" fall concert series in September!

Stay tuned to ABCNews.com for updates and more information about Whitney Houston on "GMA" this fall.

Click here to see ABC's promotional video which includes a segment by Whitney herself announcing her upcoming concert appearance for GMA.


'Strength' Leaks...

'I Didn't Know My Own Strength' has leaked tonight - no word just yet on what the first single from the album, 'I Look To You' will be.



whitneyhouston.com: Enter for a Chance to Win Entry to a Whitney Houston Listening Event!

In advance of her new album, I Look To You, there will be two listening events in mid-July for VIP Guests.  As a special gift to the fans, we're giving you a chance to attend one of these events in either New York City on July 21 or in Los Angeles on July 23.  Here's how you can enter:

Entrants must send an email to WhitneyHoustonContest@sonymusic.com and answer the question "Why should Whitney 'Look To You' for a special listening session?" in 50 words or less.  Entrants must also include their name, email address, phone number and preferred listening location (New York City or Los Angeles) in the body of the email. 

The contest ends July 13, 2009.  Winners will be selected and notified on or around July 14, 2009.  The prize does not include any additional expenses including, but not limited to incidentals, meals, telephone charges, travel insurance, souvenirs, transportation, federal, state and local sales or other taxes and surcharges which are the responsibility of the Winners.

Click Here for full terms & conditions.



Michael Clavell-Bate is a lawyer that is the senior partner of Eversheds' Manchester office and in a recent interview for the Manchester Evening News he is quoted as saying "back in the 1990s, when Whitney Houston undertook a tour of the UK, I was one of the lawyers who was kept on standby just in case any of her entourage got into any scrapes.  I never met her while she was in this country, but it was fascinating to work closely with those close to her."

: 2 JULY 2009


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