In fact, there wasn’t a proper music event in 2012 that didn’t seize the opportunity to memorialize Houston through performance. From the legendary peers that worked alongside Whitney from the start, to the new crop of singers inspired by the iconic diva, it was quite a collection that took to the stage to pay their respects. The early tributes, appropriately, reflected the sadness of a life lost too soon. As the year went on, however, these performances evolved to a celebration of The Voice’s energy and charismatic stage presence.
Starting with Jennifer Hudson’s somber performance of “I Will Always Love You” during last year’s Grammys, and moving toward an eventual spirited celebration of Houston’s more upbeat hits, we’ve rounded up our five favorite tributes to the singer. (And spoiler alert: Glee’s Whitney Houston-themed episode didn’t make the cut. At all.)
Jennifer Hudson at the 2012 Grammys
During the 2012 Grammys, which took place just one day after Whitney Houston’s death, the music industry was still reeling with grief. As host LL Cool J put it when he started the show with a prayer for her, “We’ve had a death in our family.” The pressure was on, then, for Jennifer Hudson, who would perform Whitney’s biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Despite reports that she broke down during rehearsals earlier that day, Hudson delivered a flawless performance, which was at once simple, emotional and — above all — all about Whitney. Over deafening applause, she ended it with “Whitney, we love you.”