Whitney Houston recorded a cover of Steve Winwood’s 1986 hit Higher Love in 1990. It was meant for her third album I’m Your Baby Tonight but by that time, Houston was already HUGE star, and the plan for next LP was for there to pivot into R&B.
Clive Davis, the veteran record label impresario who discovered Houston said,
“When [producer] Narada Michael Walden sent me ‘Higher Love’ with the Whitney vocal, we didn’t want her being a cover artist at that time. The only place it was released was as a bonus cut in Japan.”
But for Whitney fans, her version of this classic has been elusive and never heard before.
Seven years after her death, the singer’s estate has revived the cover as the first of many forthcoming projects celebrating her legacy. Her sister-in-law Pat Houston (who is the sole executor of Whitney’s estate) felt Higher Love was a timely release.
“The current cultural environment has been thirsty for something uplifting and inspiring. Who better to inspire than Whitney, the most exhilarating vocalist of all time?”
Instead of remastering the original production, the estate and RCA Records reenlisted superproducer Kygo for the job ,
“I was trying to make it sound like something that she would’ve done, but also something that’s my style.”
Other Whitney plans include a hologram tour and a full album of unreleased new material . Sister-in-law Pat says the goal is to not only share with Whitney’s longtime fans but also help keep her alive for the next generation.
On a more personal note, my good friend Cheryl Hardwick was the musical director for SNL and she and I were meeting up, so I went to Rockefeller Center at NBC Studios one Thursday afternoon. Cheryl was busy when I got there but said to wait and
“hang out and watch Whitney rehearse, and I’ll be right out.”
So, I “hung out” with the cast, crew and Whitney’s entourage and watched this casual and totally breathtaking performance. She was giving it about 65% I think, but standing 20 feet away that voice nearly knocked me down. Until I posted this and Googled around, I had no idea that rehearsal had been taped.
(Photo, screen grab; via Rolling Stone)