I don't know anyone that I make music with who has not made music with the Houston Family. The last circle we had George Wurzbach. Years ago, I hired him for a concert I was working on at Carnegie Hall; I had also hired my girlfriend, Cissy Houston, and we recreated the sweet inspiration. I also hired Michael Castaldo, you all know him now, but it was his first job in NYC. So he also got to know Cissy. Not even one degree of separation.
The circle two months ago, our M.D., Skip Brevis, a long time friend of the Houstons (and the Claf Sweet Waters), where he was M.D. Cissy performed with baby Whitney Houston back up. Small world, Jimmy Norman was the director of the downstairs room and open mike nights!
I hired Cissy Houston's gospel choir for the Grammy Show to perform "Man in the Mirror" with Michael Jackson; LaLa Cope wrote "You Give Good Love" in my Saturday class. I was thrilled when Clive picked it for Whitney. So many memories. A lot of you have them too! Robin Clark, Janet Pendarvis, Darlene Love, Valerie Simpson; the first call I got Saturday night was from Roberta Flack on tour in California, devastated. We all prayed it was not true. Then we prayed for Cissy. Roberta Flack has performed to benefit the children's choir at the New Hope Baptist Church, where Cissy was the M.D., for many years.
The last benefit I took two pews and brought the musicians working with me on a Steve Martin film, "Housesitter." That evening was magic. Here we were, two rows of solid, fine musicians. Cissy and the choir and Roberta were so beyond heaven or earth that at the end of the concert, none of us could move. We sat there unable to speak for long after the church had emptied. Joel Moss, our engineer, was so moved he recorded Cissy and the choir. It won a Grammy.
What can I do to help? What can I say to Cissy?
The children's choir at church, where Whitney first found her voice! Still dear to Cissy. I can't sit here and cry or dwell on the deep sorrow I feel. I am an activist—a check to the church for the children's choir so that other children can share the joy of music. Whitney will live forever, that is the wonderful part of being a musician. Yes, it is recorded, but it also still hangs in the air, in the hearts, minds and souls. It is like being hugged every day.
"Yes, we are family, the Pop Goddess Who Fell to Earth," said Jon Caramancia of the New York Times. No, our Whitney went on from the clouds ever upward. She is now with Etta James, Hubert Sumlin, Eugene McDaniels, Billy Holiday, Miles Davis and so many more.
Be joyful that Whitney Houston lived in our lifetime.