A look back at the Genius of Whitney Houston: Greatest Love Of All from Statue Of Liberty, 1986

In the year 1986, a four-day celebration of the 1984 restoration and the centenary of the Statue of Liberty took place in New York City. It began on July 3 and ended on July 6, 1986.

The ceremony on July 4, included the 'Americana Concert', with the Boston Pops Orchestra led by John Williams, featuring artists ranging from Johnny Cash to the late and great Whitney Houston at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

The entire event was broadcast on ABC with Peter Jennings and Barbara Walters as commentators and parts in CBS.

During the 'Americana Concert' on the 4th of July, Houston chose to perform a spell-binding rendition of her song 'Greatest Love Of All', taking her already iconic recording to a whole new level of lyrical and musical interpretation. Performing to an audience that included Steven Spielberg, Amy Irving, Robert Dole, NYC Mayor Ed Koch, NY State Gov. Mario Cuomo, among others, almost two months after the song had already risen to #1 at the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

For Whitney to be able to interpret and improvise with such musical maturity despite being so young is a proof of a gift that cannot be learned or adapted through any form of training. Part of her genius lied in the fact that she was able to tell a story with her performances and each interpretation had a different flavor than the other ones. The places where she holds the words, the places where she growls, the places where she hits three different belted notes in succession, the intriguing phrasing and the simplicity of the embellishments - which brings a new emotional meaning in that song, speak of her natural musical instinct as a performer which not many can bring to a live performance spontaneously.

As Whitney's musical mentor and the man who's credited with 'discovering' her, Clive Davis once said, 'It is astonishing to hear her sing live and see her bring meaning to a song that the composer never knew was there.'

All you have to do is close your eyes and listen to the sound of the violins soaring with her voice as she sings the chorus, and you can easily imagine it being played as the backdrop of a classic-Hollywood movie-moment, where the protagonist is experiencing a life-changing event of finding strength and love within oneself.

It is like the soundtrack of one of the greatest stories of self-recognition ever told.

Watch the iconic performance here:


No comments