Support from Friends...

Daily Mirror: Whitney Houston gets support from her mates at UK shows
By 3am's Clemmie Moodie & Danielle Lawler 31/03/2010

Whitney Houston is dishing out tickets to celeb pals for her UK shows.

Old mate David Gest will be at Manchester's MEN Arena when the Bodyguard singer's tour kicks off next Thursday.

On the Gest list, we presume...




Midnight Train...

MTV: 'Midnight Train To Georgia': The Story Behind The 'American Idol' Cover
Crystal Bowersox performed a stunning piano-based version of the song made legendary by Gladys Knight and the Pips.
By Kyle Anderson

Over the course of nine seasons, "American Idol" has seen a handful of performers transcend the "it's just a karaoke competition" accusation and make every song they perform their own. Season seven winner David Cook was a master at this, as were both Adam Lambert and Kris Allen last season. In season nine, we have Crystal Bowersox, the front-runner who delivered a stunning piano-based cover of "Midnight Train to Georgia" during Tuesday night's broadcast.

The famous track was made legendary by Gladys Knight and the Pips in 1973, when it appeared on their album Imagination. But it actually began life as "Midnight Plane to Houston," recorded by songwriter Jim Weatherly a few years earlier. It evolved into "Midnight Train to Georgia" when producer Sonny Limbo wanted to redo it for singer Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney Houston, who backed up the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin) in 1972.

Though Houston's version did land on the Billboard R&B chart, it was blown out of the water a year later by the Knight version, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1973 and scored Knight a Grammy in 1974.

Bowersox was not the first "American Idol" contestant to tackle one of the most iconic R&B tunes of all time. In the fifth season, Paris Bennett knocked out a version of it, while season six saw LaKisha Jones try it on for size.


Songwriter Dies...

The Jersey Journal: Bayonne music man who wrote for Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston dies
By Charles Hack/The Jersey Journal
March 30, 2010, 10:47PM

Bayonne native Elliot A. Willensky, 66, who penned Michael Jackson's first solo smash hit, "Got To Be There," died Monday in Summit after suffering a stroke.  Willensky wrote songs for dozens of musical luminaries, including Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Thelma Houston, Syreeta and Jerry Butler.

Willensky's duet, "If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful," sung by Jermaine Jackson and Whitney Houston, became, according to People Magazine, one of the top 10 songs performed at weddings.

"He was a romantic," Steven Willensky said about his brother. "He had a love and passion for song writing."

After graduating from Bayonne High School, Willensky earned a Bachelors' degree in biology from Boston University and did post-graduate studies at BU and the University of Massachusetts.  He was a research scientist in Maryland when he followed his passion for music and became a songwriter in 1969.  He was 27 and living in Los Angeles when Motown Records accepted his song as Michael Jackson's first solo single, "Got To Be There."

The song went gold and later became a hit for Chaka Khan.

His TV credits include The Bell Telephone Hour, music coordinator of Tony Orlando and Dawn Show, and jingles for Hertz, Fresca, and Chrysler.  His last project before he died was writing "When It's Time To Say Goodbye" for an upcoming documentary about the life of Karen Ann Quinlan.

He is survived by his mother Gertrude Berlin Willensky Sussman, brothers Fred and Steven, and nieces Rona and Marisa and nephew David.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to the Elliot Willensky Music Fund of the Montefiore Foundation, One David N. Myers Parkway, Beachwood, Ohio, 44122.  The funeral will be at noon tomorrow at Temple Emanu-El, 735 Kennedy Blvd. in Bayonne.



Excited About UK Tour...

Press Association: Whitney Excited About UK Tour

Whitney Houston is thrilled to be returning to the UK.

The superstar kicks off the British leg of the Nothing But Love world tour at the Manchester MEN Arena on April 8, and it will be the first time she has performed here since 1999.

"This is my first full tour since the My Love Is Your Love tour and I am so excited to be performing for my fans in the UK and Ireland after all this time - I am putting together a great show and cannot wait to perform the songs from my new album I Look To You along with some of your favourites," she said.



New Whitney Houston Press Kit Interview...


Lawyer Sets The Record Straight...

Access Hollywood: Rep: Whitney Houston ‘Not Using Drugs’ & ‘Not In Rehab’

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- A rep for Whitney Houston is blasting a tabloid report that the R&B star is in rehab for drug use.

“The National Enquirer continuously publishes false, fabricated and malicious stories about Whitney Houston, including the latest cover story with the headline, saying it’s ‘Rehab For Whitney.’ Whitney is not headed to rehab she is headed to Paris, where she will be continuing her world tour,” a rep for Houston said in a statement to Access Hollywood.

The rep also shot down another Enquirer story claiming that the singer collapsed during her tour due to binging on drugs and alcohol, saying, “that is ridiculous. It did not happen.”

The rep reiterates that the singer is not currently dealing with substance abuse issues.

“Whitney is not using drugs and is not in rehab,” the statement continued. “She is on tour, putting on great shows which are being enjoyed by tens of thousands of concert-goers and which have been praised by reviewers.”

Whitney did endure some negative reviews about her recent Australian leg of her world tour, which the rep referred to as a “handful of negative reviews,” that the rep says the Enquirer has been using, “to justify the lies published about Whitney.”


I Look To You - Melbourne...



Final Night in Australia...

Herald Sun: Whitney Houston still having fun

WHITNEY Houston has had the last laugh.
Houston, performing at the Plenary Theatre tonight, said she did not read poison reviews for her shows in Sydney and Brisbane.

Instead, she reminded herself of her bloodline – a gospel star mother, Cissy, and pop star aunt, Dionne Warwick.

“I am proud to be part of royalty, as far as my family is concerned,” Houston said last night.

It was a fun, upbeat show in which Houston joked about amateur video (“I’m going to be all YouTube tomorrow, huh?) and media (“you have bad press people here, right?”).

She also laughed about reports her iconic voice is not what it used to be.

“If you want to sing along, please be in the correct key – that’s all I ask,” she told the crowd.

Houston was also hip to George Michael’s geography gaffe last week, in which he mistook Melbourne for Sydney.

“Sometimes, we travel so much, we don't know which city we’re in” Houston said. “Ease up on George.”

Houston leaves Melbourne on Sunday.


Whitney Rocks Adelaide...


Diva Quality...

AdelaideNow: Whitney shows fans at Adelaide Entertainment Centre concert she still has diva quality

ADELAIDE fans came to judge pop icon Whitney Houston for themselves last night, and she showed them she's still got "it" - just not consistently.
Fans took their seats at the Entertainment Centre last night unsure if they would see a triumph or trainwreck.

In the end they got a bit of both - all for a tidy $200.

Houston's first Australian tour in 22 years has brought with it not only the ageing pop star but a barrage of controversy as she was slammed after her opening show in Brisbane for being "breathless".

No doubt curiosity about her health and well-being enticed many Adelaide supporters to hold on to their tickets and the majority were glad they did as they danced their way through her star-studded set.

The moment the film, music and fashion star stepped on stage in shiny silver spandex leggings the crowd jumped to its feet and screamed for one idol.

Opening with For The Lovers, off her latest album, I Look To You, Houston shimmied and gyrated alongside her all-male dance troupe, and let the adoration from the audience wash over her as she closed the number with some deep, composing breaths.

Yet everyone was still to pass judgment on whether she could still sing... and she could.

At times Houston let her vocals loose and with a collective gasp of excitement the crowd remembered how and why she became such a superstar in her heyday. Yet, there were times when all - including Houston herself - were reminded she's now 46, has overcome serious drug addiction and an abusive relationship to make it this far in her career and she's tired. Exhausted. Raspy.

There's one thing for sure. Houston is an entertainer at heart.

She knows how to engage a crowd and keep the fans eating from the palm of her hand. She'll tease with a knowing and tuneful hum, or tell a story about what brought her to today. Last night it was the moment when she called her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, up on stage for everyone to sing happy birthday to while they shared hugs and tears that endeared Houston to all. After all, she's a mother of a 17-year-old in her spare time too.

Though it was her rally through the hits - including I Learn From You and I Wanna Dance With Somebody - that kept the crowd pumping, all the while anticipating that magical moment... the opening bars of I Will Always Love You.

The first half was undoubtedly a mess. Poorly executed and a slightly more casual interpretation of the song left fans wanting more, chanting "we love you Whitney" as she paused before the second chorus.

Then she nailed it. Like the day she first recorded it, Houston held the power note that made her an icon. Albeit with an eye-roll to conclude and the admission "that's really hard you know".

But, despite her slightly eclectic style on stage (she announced she would be drinking plenty of water - "don't get it mixed up" - and applied make-up at one point) Houston was still loveable and commendable after all these years.


Birthday Girl...

People Magazine: Whitney Houston Surprises Daughter with Cake – and Tunes – on Stage
By Blane Bachelor and Julie Jordan
Thursday March 04, 2010 11:50 AM EST


Whitney Houston added two new songs to her set during her concert Wednesday in Adelaide, Australia.

Halfway through the show, during the "unplugged" portion when Houston, 46, performs old hits, she announced it was her daughter Bobbi Kristina's 17th birthday, a source close to the singer tells PEOPLE. Houston then sang "Who Would Imagine a King" from The Preacher's Wife. "[It's] one of Krissy's favorites," the source says, "and is not in the show."

Then a birthday cake was rolled out on stage, and Houston invited her daughter to come up, joined by her dancers and another tune – "Happy Birthday," which was sung by the entire audience.

Mother and daughter also celebrated the occasion in Sydney earlier in the week during a stop on the singer's Nothing But Love world tour.

"They rented a beautiful boat and took a four-hour cruise all around Sydney Harbor with Krissy's friends, the dancers and family members," adds the source. "That was the pre-birthday celebration. The cake at the concert was a complete surprise to Krissy. She had no idea!"




Herald Sun: Whitney Charms Fans

SHE has battled some less than flattering press during her Australian tour, but US star Whitney Houston was divine rather than a diva when she met fans after her sold-out Melbourne concert.

Houston happily posed for photographs with Rob Burgio and his sister-in-law Gessie Burgio as she settled in for a post-show meal at Radii at the Park Hyatt on Monday.

"She was absolutely lovely and her concert was fantastic," Rob said.

"She was delightful, friendly and very obliging to have a pic with us."




Urging Whitney On...

Herald Sun: Willing Melbourne fans urge on Whitney Houston at Rod Laver show

REPORTS of Whitney Houston's career-death have been greatly exaggerated.

Given some of the post-show comments - by journalists and the public - after Houston's Brisbane and Sydney shows you half expect her to collapse on stage or not sing a note.

On the contrary - her sold out Rod Laver Arena show last night was - for the majority - pure superstar material. Houston is just a more human superstar in 2010, now with added flaws that give her character.

Were you at Whitney Houston's Melbourne concert? Tell us what you thought of the show in the comments below

She hits all the right notes in I Look to You, the new song about what she calls her ''down times.'' Indeed every time she hits a huge note her devoted audience break into applause.

I have rarely seen an audience so behind an artist, willing her on. Before THAT note in I Will Always Love You the audience give her a standing ovation, someone even yells ''You can do it'' - and she does, 90 minutes into the concert.

Those saying Houston should not be on tour are misguided - these are her people and they are thrilled to see her back on stage. And Houston knows she's in her element.

Perhaps all the haters (Houston referenced her bad Australian press during the show) have spurred her on - there was no hint of train wreck and Houston looked defiant with something to prove.

Sure she's eccentric - at times looking in her own world and slightly bonkers - but who wants normal stars? The feeling of `What will she do next?’ was quite exciting – reminding you she’s a diva, unlike many of today’s beige robotic, over-thought performers.

At one point Houston did her own make up on stage, once sang directions to staff and giggled to herself. However there were no signs of excessive sweating, minimal holding onto towels and hardly any coughing.

Yes she went off stage for a costume change that lasted around 15 minutes. Many other artists call this an interval (there's one in the George Michael show for instance). However instead of stopping the show, Houston's brother Gary performs a gospel number and her backing singers get a moment to shine on Queen of the Night.

Yes it would have been great to have Houston join in, but it wasn't like she shied away from uptempo numbers once she returned to the stage.

Houston belted out hits like The Greatest Love of All, All at Once and Step by Step with that spine-tingling voice in full effect.

My Love Is Your Love and It's Not Right But It's Okay were delivered just as you remembered them.

Unlike Britney Spears' autopilot show, Houston chatted and engaged with the crowd. She got emotional on a Michael Jackson tribute and got well and truly in the vocal zone during her gospel segment.

And going into this show expecting little, it feels patronising to comment that she can still sing or compare her voice to what it used to be. You presume Houston and the team around her (she's managed by members of her family) would not put her on stage if she could not deliver.

The only niggles were the talk-singing of I Wanna Dance With Somebody and How Will I Know at the end of the show, with the audience singalong and her amazing backing vocalists saving the day.

But they're minor gripes - if she keeps up this quality - Houston, we do not have a problem.

Houston returns to Melbourne to play at the Plenary on Saturday.

Special mention should go to support Anthony Callea's impressive performance – including a brilliant cover of Heart’s Alone.

Note: The Herald Sun did not receive free tickets from the promoter after review tickets were withdrawn yesterday.


Rod Laver Arena...

Whitney Houston pictured at tonight's show to 12,000 fans at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne:




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