by Shelia Poole / © 2023, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
On August 9, Whitney Houston, the iconic singer who never shied away from her musical roots in the church, would have turned 60.
So, perhaps it’s only fitting that [her] first posthumous CD project takes fans back to the six-time Grammy-winning singer’s roots.
I Go to the Rock: The Gospel Music of Whitney Houston, is a well-rounded 14-track collection of gospel music, including six previously unreleased recordings by Houston, who died 11 years ago.
It’s no coincidence that the project and a related documentary about her life are happening this year in observance of her 60th year.
“I thought it would be something very special to do for her,” said Pat Houston, her sister-in-law and executor of her estate. “She loved birthdays. She loved Easter and, of course, gospel has always been the center of her gravity.”
Growing up in a gospel culture
Houston was one of three children of Cissy Houston, a soul and gospel singer who sang backup for the likes of Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick and also had her own solo career.
The family’s home was always filled with gospel music.
“This is not her first rodeo in terms of introduction to ... gospel,” said Gary Houston, the singer’s brother. “She’s been doing this for a long time. Ever since she was a teenager, she was singing gospel and listening to gospel, hearing the Word of God around our home when we were growing up. My mother, Cissy Houston, was the founder of the Drinkard Singers. ... They rehearsed in our home night and day. So we grew up with that energy, that vibration, that spirit. Just knowing what our connection with the Creator was about.”
That upbringing is magnified through this project, said Gary Houston, who also toured with his sister.
“It’s just genuine,” he said, adding he wants his sister’s fans and music lovers to know what was really important to her.
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