[artist id="1158"]Whitney Houston[/artist] returned to the stage Wednesday (September 2) with a fiery, fierce and (given that she's Whitney Houston) somewhat flaky performance from New York's Central Park as part of the "Good Morning America" Summer Concert Series.
Houston — who taped her performance Tuesday — thrilled the crowd of more than 4,000 with a four-song set that included a pair of tunes from her just-released I Look to You album (the Alicia Keys co-penned "Million Dollar Bill" and the emotional title track) and two classics, 1998's "My Love Is Your Love" and her version of Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman," which Houston turned into a massive hit in 1992.
Houston strode onstage to "Bill," shouting "I love you!" to her fans during the song's opening lines, but midway through the track, her voice began to waver, and she spent the remainder of the song thrusting the microphone into the crowd, urging her fans to help her sing the chorus.
Her struggles continued on "My Love Is Your Love," as she barely made it through the song's second verse before sounding winded (she would later blame her vocal troubles on an appearance on "Oprah" that she had taped earlier in the week). At the end of the track, Houston invited daughter Bobbi Kristina onstage, and the 16-year-old (sorta) obliged, grabbing a microphone from a stagehand — whom Houston identified as "my nephew" — and instructing fans to clap their hands.
In keeping with the familial vibe, Houston dedicated "I Look to You" to her mother, soul and gospel singer Cissy Houston, who was in the audience. She concluded the set with a breathless (in more ways than one) version of "I'm Every Woman," on which she invited "Good Morning America" hosts Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts onstage to sing backup.
Houston also gave an emotional onstage interview during the performance, telling Sawyer and Roberts that she survived her dark period thanks to her faith and her family. And she made it very clear that this isn't a comeback. After all, she never really went away.
"I'm overwhelmed [by] the love, the support, your prayers, [they] mean so much to me," she said, as her fans cheered. "I love you all for coming and saying hello to me and telling me you love me like I love you back. I never left. I never left. Yeah."