Whitney Houston has an undeniable legacy and had one of the best voices in music. She holds the record as the most-awarded female artist of all time. The icon’s career is marked by her ability to deliver chart-topping covers of songs by artists including the Four Tops (“I Believe in You and Me”), Dolly Parton (“I Will Always Love You”) and Chaka Khan (“I’m Every Woman”).
As a nod to Houston’s influence, many artists have attempted to give renditions of the pop star’s best hits, with the hope of being able to do them justice in the way the late singer could.
In celebration today of Houston’s birthday, EBONY highlights the best celebrity covers of the late pop icon’s biggest hits.
In 2015, the Philly songstress put a spin on Houston’s “I Have Nothing” for VIBE’s V-Sessions series. The song was originally released in 1993 as the third single from The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album.
The British singer-songwriter performed a slowed-down cover of Houston’s ’80s pop hit “How Will I Know” on SiriusXM Hits 1 in 2014. The song was the late singer’s second No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.
The platinum-selling pop singer was a contestant on China’s singing competition Singer earlier in the year. She performed a couple of Houston covers during the series, but it was her showstopping rendition of “I Have Nothing” that left the judges awestruck. Jessie J went on to be crowned the show’s winner.
Hudson gave a touching tribute to Houston at the 2012 Grammy Awards, one day after the pop star was found dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She performed “I Will Always Love You,” originally sung by Dolly Parton, which Houston recorded for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. The song became the best-selling single by a woman of all time. During its first run, it spent 14 weeks at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. After Houston’s death, it re-entered the charts and once again reached the top three spots.
In 2001, Aguilera sang a rendition of “Run to You,” the fourth single from The Bodyguard soundtrack. The Voice judge was honoring Houston at the BET Awards, where the New Jersey native received the Lifetime Achievement Award. After the performance, Houston said it was the best version of the song she had ever heard. Unlike the previous singles from the soundtrack, the song was a moderate hit and peaked only at No. 31 on the Billboard charts.
At the age of 20, the Grammy-nominated singer performed a crowd-pleasing rendition of “I Have Nothing” for Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House. Before she began singing, Grande said, “I’m going to sing a song by a woman who endlessly inspired me when I was a little girl.”
A year ago, McKnight went live on his Facebook channel and “#brianized” Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” He played the piano to accompany his rendition. “Tonight, we are doing quite possibly the greatest female vocalist that any of us have ever heard,” he said.
Riley, who played Mercedes Jones, sang “I Look to You” on the second season of Fox’s musical show Glee. Her character sings to Kurt Hummel, whose father is in a coma. The cover of the song peaked at No. 74 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 2010.
The Canadian singer belted out “one of [her] truly favorite Whitney songs,” “Greatest Love of All,” during the 2012 Grammy posthumous celebration of Houston’s musical career. The song was released in 1985 and was a cover of George Benson’s 1977 single “The Greatest Love of All.” Houston’s version peaked at No. 1 on the charts in the U.S., Canada and Australia in 1986.
The gospel singer performed “I Look to You” at BET’s Celebration of Gospel in 2010 before Houston joined her onstage for a duet. It was one of the diva’s last performances. The pop-soul song is the lead single from her seventh studio album, I Look to You, which was released in 2009. The song ranked at No. 19, becoming her 30th Top 20 hit on the Billboard charts.
During the 2012 Billboard Music Awards, Legend and Sparks performed “Greatest Love of All” and “I Will Always Love You,” respectively, during a tribute to the singer, who had passed just three months earlier. Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, present for the performance, was moved to tears.
In a rare moment, the two singers paid tribute to the six-time Grammy award winner at the V103 Soul Session in 2012. Brandy opened with “I Will Always Love You” before she became teary-eyed during Monica’s rendition of “You Give Good Love,” the lead single from Houston’s 1985 eponymous debut album, which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
What's Your Reaction?
Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.