South African performer Belinda Davids was just 8-years-old when she first heard Whitney Houston sing. Years later, she spends her days belting out Houston’s songs and championing her legacy.
“I actually sang Greatest Love Of All when I was much younger, but I didn’t know it was her at the time.”
Davids is bringing her tribute act, The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show, to New Zealand to share the diva’s music with fans from Whangarei to Blenheim.
“We performed a small selection of shows in New Zealand in 2013, and three years later we are still getting letters and messages from those audiences begging us to return.”
* I will always love my idol
* Whitney tour a true labour of love
* Whitney Houston tribute artist heading for New Plymouth
The purpose of her show is to celebrate and honour Houston, Davids says.
“I am a fan, I love Whitney. I was a little girl who grew up with her songs and idolised her like so many others.”
Sharing that with people worldwide who miss their musical idol is always special, she says.
Davids still remembers where she was when Houston died.
“I was home in Cape Town. It was a terribly hard day. I still to this day have to hold back tears when I sing I Will Always Love You because it’s so emotional for me and I miss her so much.”
Although she is connected to certain songs for different reasons, she does not have a favourite Houston song.
“I actually don’t like to pick a favourite. I find when I listen to one song I’m compelled to listen to another and another and another.”
R&B chart-toppers such as Anita Baker and Chaka Khan are also among Davids’ idols, but she says Houston’s pure, clear and clean singing style set her apart from other artists at the time.
“[Houston] and [producer] Clive Davis had the brilliant ability to cross over from pop to R&B, and she delivered both in ways no-one can today.”
The reason Davids only portrays Houston is down to the show already being a concept, created by Showtime Australia chief executive and director John Van Grinsven, when she won the lead role.
“I think Whitney deserves her own show anyway,” Davids says.
Before Davids started rehearsing for the show, she studied Houston for three months. In the week before touring, she sings every day for more than four hours.
Davids has a four-octave vocal range, which means she can sing both unusually low and high notes in tune. This is a big advantage, as Houston had the same range abilities.
Davids has seven outfit changes in the show, but there are plenty more options in her repertoire.
“We change them up as needed. They’re all exquisite custom-made outfits, some of them replicas of iconic Whitney dresses, and some with hours worth of hand-beading. They are very glam.”
Graced with similar looks to Houston, Davids doesn’t spend much time in the make-up chair.
“I’m lucky in the sense that we look similar so it takes me only two hours to get ready, which seems a long time, but compared with some performers it is relatively quick.”
THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL: THE WHITNEY HOUSTON SHOW
* August 5: Forum North, Whangarei
* August 6: Turner Centre, Kerikeri
* August 9: Baycourt Addison Theatre, Tauranga
* August 10: TSB Showplace, New Plymouth
* August 11: Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland
* August 12: The Opera House, Wellington
* August 14: Southward Theatre, Paraparaumu
* August 16: Aurora Centre, Christchurch
* August 18: Theatre Royal, Nelson
* August 21: ASB Theatre Marlborough, Blenheim