By Kelley L. Carter
Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room on Saturday (February 11), just one day before the 54th Grammy Awards, and as to be expected, many musicians in attendance paid their respects to the late singer. Host LL Cool J opened up the show by dedicating a prayer to Houston, and Rihanna gave her a shout out during her set, before Jennifer Hudson lead the official tribute.
As usual, the awards show paid respects to the number of now-gone musicians and music executives, including British singer Amy Winehouse, Motown executive Ester Gordy Edwards, soul-music architect Nick Ashford and influential rapper Heavy D. Their music played, their images were shown, and a quiet — before an eruption of applause — fell over the house when they concluded with an image of Houston in a red dress, in her heyday, singing.
Then, the house went dark. And a lone spotlight shone down to reveal the newly svelte Hudson poised and ready to deliver what might very well be the night’s best and most anticipated performance. She delivered the first a cappella notes of one of Houston’s biggest hits, her remake of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” from the “Bodyguard” soundtrack.
For her part, Hudson ran through the track— with its nearly impossible trickling of high and low notes — almost effortlessly. At times, it looked as if Hudson was blinking back tears.
She brought the house down with an emotional rendering of the song to a darkly lit house.
Houston was found dead at age 48 on Saturday, hours before her mentor Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy bash. She was expected to attend the annual fete. The party went on as planned Saturday night, where Davis, Diddy, Alicia Keys and Tony Bennett all paid tribute to the fallen star. A tribute to Houston is also planned during Sunday’s show, led by Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Khan.