In the landscape of 20th century music, Whitney Houston’s voice stands tall as one of the most influential ones to grace the scene. Her raw, once-in-a-lifetime instrument and a widely celebrated catalog of songs has managed to inspire a number of aspiring artists across all genres and demographics.
Her gigantic influence was there for everyone to see while she was still around, with almost every contemporary singer on the charts, including – Lady Gaga, Adele, Pink, Rihanna and many more, citing her as their vocal inspiration, but it became even more evident since her passing in the year 2012.
A number of new and old artists, which include her peers as well as those who picked-up the microphone after listening to her, have payed homage to the legendary diva since that fateful day, and today we’ll be counting down the best among them.
From Jennifer Hudson to Aretha Franklin, check out our list of the Top 10 Best performance/song-based Whitney Houston tributes:
10) Mariah Carey’s Bittersweet Duet on ‘When You Believe’
“None of us would sound the same if Whitney Houston hadn’t put out a record,” Mariah Carey had once proclaimed about the singer she often competed on the charts with, but also got to collaborate with in an Oscar winning duet back in 1998. Paying homage to her ‘dear friend’, Carey performed ‘When You Believe’ on numerous dates of her ‘Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour’ in 2016, with Whitney’s portion of the song being played out on a big screen behind her. The segment ended-up becoming the biggest highlight of her shows, garnering more cheers from the crowd than her entire set.
9) Aretha Franklin’s Concert Tribute
Trust Aretha Franklin to evoke the most raw emotions in your heart with her soulful renditions of popular classics. Franklin, who soon embarked on a tour, after Houston’s passing in 2012, steadily performed a number of Whitney tunes in her shows, while citing her as ‘one of the greatest singers to ever stand behind a microphone.’ Her heart-wrenching rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’ came, while we were still dealing with the loss of one of the most loved artists in popular music, and it immediately became a favorite.
8) Yolanda Adams’ Soaring Rendition Of I Love The Lord
Yolanda Adams is one of the best voices in gospel music and when she took to perform a track from Houston’s celebrated gospel album, ‘The Preacher’s Wife’, it was bound to be roof-breaking and stage-shattering. Displaying her stunning range and gritty, gospel-infused growls, Adams took this performance straight to church, briefly transforming the NAACP awards into a house of worship.
7) Jennifer Hudson’s “Barely Rehearsed” Tribute at the Grammys
The Grammys barely had any time to prepare for an immediate tribute to Whitney, as she passed away only a few hours prior to the ceremony, while preparing herself for Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy bash. If there was one vocalist who had the chops to pull-off a Houston tune, on such a short notice, it had to be Jennifer Hudson – someone who’s not only been hugely influenced by the diva but also has the pipes to belt out her tunes. Her stellar rendition of ‘I Will Always Love You’ was heartfelt, soulful and unforgettable.
6) Glee’s Tribute Episode for Whitney
While Glee has done several tribute covers of some great artists in popular music, they dedicated an entire episode revolving around some brilliant tunes from Whitney’s catalog. As the students of William McKinley High School mourn the loss of their beloved artist, the result is one of the most stunning tribute given to the late legend.
5) Robin Thicke’s ‘Exhale’
Before Robin Thicke ventured into ‘Blurred Lines’, he was clear about displaying his musical influences, which included, Whitney. Thicke recreated Whitney’s 1995-released Billboard #1 tune, ‘Exhale (Shoop Shoop)’, singing it mostly in a falsetto and delivering a calm and melancholic tribute to the late diva. He later performed the song at the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where he literally choked-up with emotions, in the middle of the performance, eventually garnering applause from the crowd.
4) Chris Cornell’s ‘I Will Always Love You’
One of the greatest voices in Rock music paying homage to one of the greatest voices in Pop. Cornell’s tribute came only a few days after the news of Whitney Houston’s death shook the world, while he was still in the middle of a tour. His version of this gigantic hit is so stunningly heartfelt, it may make you weep like a 10 year old kid.
3) Twista’s Immediate Rap-Tribute to The Voice
Twista dropped this ‘unnamed’ tribute to Houston, summing up his ‘shock’ and ‘grief’, after hearing the news of her death. Leaving a few bars empty in the end of the song, allowing fans to fill it with their own personal tributes, the song still makes for a heart-rendering listen. Wonder why this wasn’t released to the radio with an official title?
2) A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston
To make-up for not being able to properly tribute her at the 2012 official Grammy ceremony, due to lack of time and rehearsals, Grammys came-up with a special mini concert, including the likes of Celine Dion, Usher, Britney Spears, CeCe Winans and more, saluting the singer. Beautifully put together, featuring performances and interviews from Houston herself, it was the most fulfilling tribute by the academy giving a form of ‘closure’ to several fans.
Dubai Musical Fountains:
Marylebone Community Choir:
Grammy Museum Exhibit:
Sam Smith’s How Will I Know:
Ariana Grande’s Uptempo Medley:
John Legend’s ‘Greatest Love Of All’
Beyonce’s I Will Always Love You:
And here is the #1:
James Blunt’s Miss America
Just like Elton John created a special song for Princess Diana, after her untimely passing in 1997, Grammy winner James Blunt came-up with this hauntingly beautiful tune from his 2013-released LP, Moon Landing. ‘Miss America’, like many other Blunt songs, attempts to explore the melancholic side of the protagonist of his song, whose illustrious career often covered-up for the flaws in her personal life. Blunt’s tribute to Whitney is not only personal and heartfelt but also very original.
Which was your personal favorite tribute to Whitney among these?