- 09 Nov 20
"We all know what a miraculous singer Whitney was—perhaps the greatest voice of our time. We all know how her unprecedented success brought Black women into the absolute highest reaches of the music industry’s pantheon. We all know her music will live forever."
Keys gave the late icon’s induction speech, beginning, “Whitney Houston is one of one.”
The singer went on to recall meeting Houston, saying that Houston "...sought me out at one of Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy parties. I was still in awe of this crazy world I was newly welcomed into, and she marched right up to me and she said, ‘You are gonna write a song for me.’”
The pair worked together on 'Million Dollar Bill', with Houston's impact on music and world culture living on forever.
The Rock Hall played a video featuring Jennifer Hudson, Clive Davis, gospel singer Kelly Price, and Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy Houston following Keys' moving speech, along with archival footage of Aretha Franklin, Oprah Winfrey, and Lady Gaga.
Jennifer Hudson shared her own experiences of idolising Houston:
"Being a little girl seeing this goddess command the stage with her presence and her voice thinking like, 'Who is this? I want to be like that one day.' She could stand flat foot and sing. No running from the notes, but completely executing purely from the softest tone to the ultimate power."
Cissy and Pat Houston (Whitney’s manager and sister-in-law) accepted Whitney Houston’s induction on the singer’s behalf.
“I’m so very very proud that Whitney’s being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” Cissy said. “She wanted to be something, not anything. She worked hard at it too.”
Read Alicia Keys' full speech below:
"Whitney Houston is one of one. There is no one like her, and there never will be. I remember growing up listening to her music and dancing around the house and jumping on my bed singing her songs into my hairbrush. This golden voice with range and runs and power like none and a face and a presence like royalty. She was every little girl’s admiration.
When I first met her, she sought me out at one of Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy parties. I was still in awe of this crazy world I was newly welcomed into, and she marched right up to me and she said, “You are gonna write a song for me.” I couldn’t believe it! Had the greatest voice of all time demanded that of little ol’ me? I was shocked and completely overjoyed and slightly scared, and thus began a beautiful friendship that was so genuine and sincere. We were kindred spirits and instant sisters.
We did work together on 'Million Dollar Bill,' a song I wrote for her album I Look to You. We laughed so much that I thought we’d never be able to finish the song. We called each other “Mima,” and I cherish every moment that I got to talk to her, be in her beautiful company, and love her. I still can’t believe that was Whitney’s last album and that she’s no longer with us.
We all know what a miraculous singer Whitney was—perhaps the greatest voice of our time. We all know how her unprecedented success brought Black women into the absolute highest reaches of the music industry’s pantheon. We all know her music will live forever. That music, that everlasting voice, is her final generous gift to us, and she will now be one of the brightest lights ever to shine in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Congratulations, Mima. We miss you."