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 longtime 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.