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Old 04-10-2013, 12:40 AM   #1
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What was the last live performance with Whitney's Bodyguard-era voice?

I'm starting this thread to see what people here think of the topic, not to criticise Whitney. Call it a kind of critique of her voice, on a technical basis. I will try to present evidence that clarifies hopefully 'the beginning of the end' of Whitney's voice i.e. when it all began, in earnest.

I've got my money on June 1995, when she appeared on VH1 Honors and performed This Day, among other songs.

Link: Search "Whitney Houston- This Day (VH1)(digital clear)(hi-fi)" on YouTube

Listen to the quality of her voice, the clarity, the depth, the power, the vibrato and timbre, and also her vocal runs (pejoratively known as 'vocal gymnastics'). It's inconsistent, but Whitney's voice is at 95-97% here I think, so she can still pull off the performance.

I've looked up her televised performances, and the next one chronologically is the 38th Grammy Awards in 1996.

Link: Search "Count on me - Whitney Houston & CeCe Winans" on YouTube

Compare with the previous one. She's slightly rushing the song, the depth and power has subsided to a noticeable degree, a little bit of vibrato and timbre left. At the 1996 Grammys she also performed Heaven with Shirley Caesar.

Link: Search "Shirley Ceasar, Whitney Houston & Ce Ce Winans 'Heaven' (LIVE)" on YouTube

Listen to the her intro, lasts a few seconds. OK, we hear her familiar vocal runs, but much of the same from the Count on Me song.

For this reason, I submit to you that Whitney's voice had begun to go properly after June 1995. One could ask the alternative question: at what point did Whitney's substance abuse seriously alter her voice? Alter, not affect. Whitney had taken drugs long before but we only observe it's effect on her voice from 1994 South Africa to the concert. But that performance STILL had all of the vocal properties listed in the first paragraph, just inconsistently, and with a tiny decrease, most likely due to overwork (this was her penultimate Bodyguard Tour concert, after all).

But if you are convinced that Whitney still had the 95-97% voice in the 1996 Grammys like in VH1 Honors (1995), then you'll surely agree that her 1996 Brunei concert exhibited a clearly different voice. Consider: I Have Nothing

Link: Search "Whitney Houston - I have nothing - Live in Brunei - 1996" on YouTube

and; I Will Always Love You

Link: Search "Whitney Houston live in Brunei 1996 - I Will Always Love You (HD)" on YouTube

These songs demonstrate her slight dip in voice quality, around half the depth and power from 1995 video, most of the vibrato and some timbre remain, and none of her trademark vocal confidence from the 1996 Grammys, or the concert(s) before that. This is corroborated with Whitney's admission that she was using crack cocaine everyday by this point. It sounds like Whitney was working with 75-80% of her voice, but she's missing the most important part by then: her inimitable power and depth, the timbre and the vocal runs. Whitney often stopped to catch her breath and missed a few high notes, let alone sustained notes. This shows her substance abuse had caught up to her by then and she knew her instrument wasn't what it once was. So overall, I say that, AT THE VERY LEAST, the 1995 VH1 Honors was the last time Whitney had "The Voice" as we knew it. Though, provided the evidence I've given, some will conclude that the 1996 Grammys was the final time we'd hear the Bodyguard-era voice.

What does everyone else think/opine/observe?

Last edited by special1ne : 04-10-2013 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:33 AM   #2
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Are you a massive Whitney Houston fanboy or something? Two threads about her.

Originally Posted by angusfan16
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:45 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by leony03
Are you a massive Whitney Houston fanboy or something? Two threads about her.

Nope, have a few songs, definitely not a fan. I want to know how it is that such a powerful human instrument can be damaged and abused to the extent that it completely changes. I would and should ask the same kind of question for Steven Tyler and his voice! I have an (admittedly strange to some people) desire to be able to pinpoint exactly when discernible changes developed in Whitney's voice. Kinda so I can say "before X performance" and "after X performance" and I can compare
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