Whitney Houston is offering up old favorites for
live TV concert Performer to pay tribute to Ross, Franklin, Warwick
Backstage, life is a little less glamorous: She's fighting off a cold, her daughter demands attention, days of rehearsals beckon and there's an interview to be done, never one of her favorite activities anyway.
Her mind flashes back to youthful summer days spent traveling on concert tours with her cousin, Dionne Warwick, one of the singers Houston will pay tribute to Sunday.
"You see the glamour and the glitz in the front, but in the background, you know what it takes to put on all the glamour and the glitz," she said.
Houston's dusting off several of her own hits to go along with tributes to Warwick, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross for the 90-minute special, broadcast live from Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall at 9 p.m.
The concert promises to be a scaled-down, more musical experience than her two previous HBO specials -- welcoming Desert Storm troops home in 1991 and paying tribute to South Africa and Nelson Mandela in 1994.
Houston hasn't toured in the mainland United States for the last three years, so it will be the first time many of her fans have seen her in a while.
"I like the intimacy of it," she said. "I wanted it to be more intimate, rather than large, which I'm used to playing. I just thought it would be a great atmosphere."
Besides, she said, "they're paying me a lot of money." The concert will also benefit the Children's Defense Fund.
Plans are to perform Warwick's "Walk on By," Diana Ross's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Ain't No Way" as a tribute to Aretha Franklin. Houston also plans to sing "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess and some gospel material.
"It will be a setting of just basic, classic songs with voice," she said.
Warwick "has known me before I knew myself," she said. "It's difficult to talk about someone who is your family and also talk about them in the realm of a popular songstress. Dionne just taught me so much about grace and style."
Houston said she's always admired the way Franklin moves people -- literally and figuratively -- with her music. Ross is "the epitome of what I think is glamour and what I think is class," she said.
"They will always be known," she said. "They set the standard for everybody."
One reason Houston is digging back into popular songbooks is she doesn't think there are as many talented songwriters coming up with original material as there were even 10 years ago.
"There are no more notes to play, so we have to go back and pick up songs that were once great ..." she said. "There are no more stories being written, there are just grooves ... I tend to go for the old classics, the ones that will last forever."
Whitney Houston's concert from Washington D.C. airs live
on HBO at 9 p.m. Sunday.
NEWSFILE: 3 OCTOBER 1997
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