INTERSECTING THE PAST WITH THE PRESENT can reveal new understandings that would otherwise stay hidden. The same is true of transecting different cultures, perhaps from opposite ends of the world.
In The Greatest Love of All: A Tribute to Whitney Houston Starring Belinda Davids, the talented and charismatic South African singer does more than just look and sound eerily similar to Houston as she belts out the late singer’s greatest hits, soaring through goosebump-raising octaves. She also taps an atavistic musical spirit that started before Whitney Houston was alive and will continue into the future, when brought forth by people gifted enough to carry on the legacy. And Davids reminds us of the positivity and sweetness of Houston’s songs from the 1980s and ’90s—a more innocent, less divided time in American history.
“It’s hard, but I love it,” Davids told a Chicago audience Aug. 11, referring to her nightly performances of Houston’s songs—indeed, her performances of Whitney Houston herself—during the show’s first tour of the United States. “And I love how much you want to remember her.”
Whitney Houston died in February 2012. Had she lived, she would now be 55 years old.
Backed by an excellent band of musicians and dancers from South Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and illuminated by a gorgeous light show, Davids brings Whitney Houston to life in hits such as “How Will I Know,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “I Have Nothing,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “Saving All My Love for You,” “Greatest Love of All” and “I Will Always Love You.”
Touring the U.S. in a show about her idol is a surreal experience, Davids said. Given that she’s portraying Houston onstage, Moresby Press asked, is she acting as well as singing? Davids seemed a bit taken aback by the question. “Acting?” she responded. “No, it’s just singing.”
But she radiates star power, and we predict it won’t be long before she appears on Broadway and then in movies. And though she does an incredible job in her tribute to Whitney Houston, she is too talented to limit herself only to this highly enjoyable show. Like the ecstatic crowds at her concerts, American music lovers—and Hollywood—won’t be able to resist Belinda Davids.