Whitney Houston

It was February of 1985, and I was asked by a friend from Arista Records to come to a recording studio in downtown Chicago to photograph a new singer they were promoting. I walked into the room, filled with about 200 people from all over the Midwest, and heard an amazing voice coming out of the speakers. The record company people brought me into a small room off to the side where a scared looking 21 year old girl was sitting in the corner. I was introduced to Whitney and we were told that they were going to bring her out in the big room, stand her against the far wall, and bring everyone in the room up to meet her. At that time, I would take a picture of her with each person. She had a wide eyed look on her face, but shrugged her shoulders and said “Let’s go!” There was a lot of downtime during the next two hours and she kept on asking me if every new artist went through this. I told her yes, but probably not to this extent. She seemed like a very sweet person, but I wondered if she could pull off that great sound live.

In May of that year, she came back to town to play her first Chicago show, at the Park West nightclub. I stopped by to say hi before the show, and she thanked me for making the ordeal 3 months earlier fairly painless. Fifteen minutes later, she took the stage and a voice like nothing I had heard in a long time roared out of the PA system! WOW. She had no stage presence, but she could sing! She came back to town toward the end of the year and was even better. Still didn’t move much on stage, but she was working on it.

By the following year she was a superstar, selling out the large outdoor venue in the suburbs for two nights. By that time, the restrictions were already in place (First three songs only) but I thought it would be worth it. I went both nights, got some pretty good pictures, and saw a much better performer.

That would be the last time I photographed her, as the restrictions got worse each year and it just wasn’t worth it any more.

But man, she could sing!!

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