Tonight’s the night! At 10 p.m., CBS is airing a one-hour tribute special, “We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston,” with Grammy superstars Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans and Usher performing. The special was taped October 11 at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre.
I’m a bit surprised that Celine was not drafted to sing “I Will Always Love You.” Instead, according to USA Today, the show kicks off with Hudson charging through an upbeat medley of “I’m Every Woman,” “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Usher tackles “I Believe in You and Me” from The Preacher’s Wife… And Celine’s The Greatest Love of All is intercut with clips of a version Dion sang in 1987. Winans and Adams close the show with a soaring rendition of Waiting to Exhale’s “Count on Me.”
Rare footage includes Houston’s TV debut on The Merv Griffin Show, where her mother can be seen through the translucent curtain frantically directing the band to quicken the tempo, with video flashbacks belting the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl and “I Will Always Love You” on 1994’s Grammy Awards.
Tributes come from the likes of Britney Spears, Halle Berry, LL Cool J, Tariji P. Henson and Clive Davis, seated in the audience with Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown and her fiancé Nick Gordon.
Whitney, of course, died in February, at the age of 48. A new hits compilation I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston was released Tuesday. *