Whitney Houston kicks off first World Tour in five years
Jul 26, 1999

After a five-year absence from the concert stage, Whitney Houston recently kicked off a sold-out coast-to-coast tour. Information on the Whitney Houston World Tour '99 is provided.

Copyright Johnson Publishing Company Jul 26, 1999

After a five-year absence from the concert stage, Whitney Houston recently kicked off a sold-out coast-to-coast tour, thrilling fans with a mixture   of current and vintage tunes.

The Whitney Houston World Tour '99 kicked off at Chicago's 4,000-seat Arie Crown Theater-a small venue by Houston's standards.

In fact, the most noticeable difference between this tour and her previous engagements is the difference in the size of the venues. Previously, she performed before packed houses at large arenas like New York's Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl, both with capacities around 18,000.

But, not for this tour. "I've turned down a lot of arena dates because I've done the big-arena thing," she said. "Now, I want to do something where people can feel me and I can feel them. This show is going to have a jam-session kind of feel."

And it's because Whitney is feeling so much better about who and where she is now.

"The last time I toured was just before I'd had my baby," she told JET. "I'd just come off The Bodyguard. It rocketed, I got pregnant, had a baby. Everything happened so fast. It was too much to take at the moment. Thank God for my husband (singer Bobby Brown). There was a lot of success at a very important time in my life. I think then I was more in wonder of what was going to happen."

But not now. Now, she says, she feels good about herself and her life. "I'm older, a wife, a mother. I know what I'm doing. I'm so glad I'm past the I-don't-know stage. I feel good. I feel secure. We put this show together based on me then and now. So, everybody gets that piece of then, plus now. I'm glad they're enjoying it. I'm not really surprised they're loving it.
God knows I work hard and put my best into it."

She is surprised about the fact that she's in smaller venues (averaging between 4,000 and 6,000 seats) is becoming such a major issue. She said she loves the intimacy of the smaller venues because "they can see me. And I can see them."

"Why are people so surprised?" she told the Boston Herald. "I'm not crazy about arenas just because I can sell them out. It doesn't do anything for my ego at all. I want to play places where people don't have to sit in the nosebleed seats and wonder what the hell is going on. This is about playing places people can actually feel you, can actually know what you're wearing, what clothes you have on."

On the tour, she's sporting clothes by in-crowd designers Dolce & Gabbanna. Fans lucky enough to get tickets are seeing a Whitney Houston who's not only relaxed, but witty and playfully interacting with the crowds in the much more intimate venues.

She is mixing up the show with about half the songs coming from her latest album My Love Is Your Love, and the remainder such crowd-pleasing hits as Saving All My Love, How Will I Know and I Will Always Love You. She told reporters that she has to sing the vintage hits. "Those songs brought me here. Ill do them forever."

She told the New York Daily News that all of the old songs had special meaning for her. "When I did Saving All My Love, I was going through a terrible love affair. He was married, and that will never work out for anybody. Never, no way. Forget about it."

Fans also are treated to the new hits from her 3 million copy-selling album My Love Is Your Love, such as Heartbreak Hotel and It's Not Right But It's Okay. Although she's enticed millions of fans with her ballads, her recent   album has much more of a mix of R&B and hip-hop to it.

Not one to risk stagnation and get locked into one specific genre of music, Whitney told JET she embraced hip hop because that's where music is now. "Today, it's hip hop. Hip hop has taken over. With every race, creed and color, it's taken over. It's what it's about. But fans still want to hear lyrics. I have a generation of 2-, 3-, 4and 5-year-olds who look at me and see the Fairy Godmother (from the ABC movie Cinderella). I have a generation
of people who know me from the 1980s and a generation from now who know
me from It's Not Right But It's Okay. I'm not suffering."

She said the tour is the result of market forces. "You go according to what people dictate. They like it; they want to hear me. I put the tickets on sale and they bought them."

And it's no coincidence that Houston's current tour began when the school year ended. It was scheduled that way so that her 6-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, could tour and get on the stage with her. Bobbi Kristina comes out on the stage when her mother sings the title track from My Love Is Your Love. She implores the crowds to clap their hands and get involved in her mother's music.

When Whitney takes the tour to Europe at the end of August, Bobbi Kristina will accompany her mom, but just for a brief period. "She's going to do two weeks with me in Europe before going back to school. I'm going to take her with me so that she and I can prepare ourselves for the parting. So, she'll do the two weeks, then go back to school because she'll be in first grade. I'll be back home four weeks after she starts first grade. So, I'm preparing myself. It's tough. One of us has to be home when the other's away. When I'm away, Bobby's home, and when he's away, I'm home. He's home during the European leg."

On and off the concert stage, Whitney said she's enjoying herself more than ever before. "You don't realize it until you're older. When you're older, you learn what it's about to relax and enjoy. You're not so young, not so eager. Some of the mistakes you made are gone. They're over! You move on. I'm glad to be where I am right now. I'm glad to be 35. I don't
want to be 28, 26, 25 or 24. I don't want to be anything. I'm glad I'm in my 30s. God knows I wish I knew then what I know now. I would've known not to make the mistakes I made. I'm comfortable now. I've been truly blessed."


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