In the spirit of Whitney: Houston Hologram tour set to begin
Published 5:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2020
BURBANK, Calif. — Whitney Houston is about to appear on the concert stage again.
Eight years after her death, a holographic Houston will embark on a European tour that starts in England on Feb. 25 and runs through early April, with U.S. dates expected to follow.
“Now is just the right time,” said Pat Houston, the singer’s sister-in-law, former manager and the executor of her estate, which is producing the show in collaboration with BASE Hologram. “In the spirit of Whitney, I know we’re doing all the right things right now.”
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Last week, a few dozen members of the media were given a dress-rehearsal preview in Burbank, California of most of “An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour,” which features a Houston projected onto a nearly invisible scrim on a stage with real dancers and a live backing band.
The concert set includes most of her biggest hits — “How Will I Know,” “Saving All My Love For You,” “I Will Always Love You,” along with some unexpected rarities, including a cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” that Houston first recorded three decades ago.
The show, which was first conceived five years ago, used a body double along with hundreds of hours of Houston performances and extensive CGI synthesizing.
“We created the hologram the same way they did Carrie Fisher in the ‘Star Wars’ movie ‘Rogue One,’” said Marty Tudor, CEO of BASE Hologram, which has previously revived performing versions of dead singers including Roy Orbison and Maria Callas. “It’s lengthy, it’s tedious, it’s a big, complicated process, but I think it worked.”
The ambitious performance is the modest brainchild of Whitney Houston herself, in at least one respect.
While on her final European tour, she had an “unplugged” section of her show, with a stripped down band and minimal fanfare. Houston liked that so much that shortly before her death at age 48 on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards, she expressed a desire to one day do an entire tour that way.
That concept became the model for the hologram concert.
“This is something that she wanted to do,” Pat Houston said after the media preview of the show. “I get very emotional watching this, because it is so, so close to what she wanted. The only thing missing is her, physically.”