It’s been seven years since Whitney Houston’s last album and five since her last television interview. Now, Whitney is back.
The singing legend presented her new release, “I Look To You,” at The Allen Room of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on July 21, alongside her longtime friend and music maestro, Clive Davis.
A host of notables packed the room for the listening party, including Whitney’s cousin, Dionne Warwick, her mother, Cissy Houston, Alicia Keys, who collaborated with Whitney on one track on the record, Martha Stewart, Gayle King and Chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group L.A. Reid.
Access Hollywood’s guest correspondent Toure talked with Whitney and Clive about her new album, which hits store shelves on September 1. The album marks a major comeback after recent struggles and time away to raise her now 16-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina.
Access: Whitney, you said you were ready to move to an island when Clive called. How could all of this be better than living on an island?
Whitney: After all those years of having been in the industry and making all those great records and stuff — you know what I’m saying — and all the hoopla… I kind of got tired of it.
I loved the time that I took [for] myself — for me and my daughter… [I] made some changes in my life that I had to respect for me… It had to be for me. Couldn’t be for anyone else. And when after… three years kind of went by I got a call from my dear friend here — my dad in the industry. I call him my father in the industry because he guides me. He said, ‘Listen, you know it’s time.’
Access: After seven years, were there adjustments or more like riding a bike?
Whitney: It’s more like riding a horse… [A] bike you can stop, break. Sometimes you’ve got to pull the horse reins back, you’ve got to hold the rein a little better…. When it first began, I felt a little funny because I was so used to getting up, getting my daughter dressed for school, watching her go to school, come back home.
Access: A regular mom?
Whitney: Yeah! That was my thing. And then, when I told her I was going to do an album again she said, ‘That’s great mom! You should do it.’ I said, '[Have] I got it in me to still do it kind of thing?’ She was like, ‘Yeah! Come on mom! You know you still got it!’
Access: (To Clive) Is this the best American singer?
Clive: I think without question. Whitney, her legacy and what she is doing right now, she might talk about an island but she can’t shop on an island, she can’t go [buy] the great clothes that she loves, but more importantly music runs through her. It’s been part of her life since she was born. For her not be involved, for her not to really look for the material — we are a team, we go looking everywhere for the best music that [fits] what she has stood for, that great tradition of great vocalist and copyrights that last and become standards, so that was our goal… What she’s done is special.
Whitney: Yeah it is. It’s very special…. It’s very special.