Whitney Houston’s brilliance exposed: How singer silenced producer with incredible note

Whitney Houston was one of the most successful recording artists of a generation – selling in excess of 200 million records worldwide. Her nearly-three decades in the music industry earned her the title of ‘Most Awarded Female Artist Of All Time’, from Guinness World Records. In total, she received more than 600 accolades during her lifetime, many of which were in recognition of the 40-plus songs she released. After her death in 2012, she was remembered for her undeniable vocal range, which was so strong she claimed to be able to “bend a note” in and out of key. But the US star’s life was also plagued with a number of problems. She hit the headlines multiple times for drug abuse, her unhealthy marriage to RnB “bad boy” Bobby Brown and her unforgettable diva antics. Away from her musical talent her personality and character shone – something that is still remembered by many to this day. Her flair for hilarious and outrageous behaviour was best highlighted through one astonishing account from a fellow musician.

Whitney Houston had already spent over a decade dominating the charts when the soulful songstress made an amusing response to criticism.

Recording artist Wyclef Jean, of Fugees fame, recalled the heartwarming story that gave insight into the real Whitney, during an NPR Tiny Desk Concert three years ago. 

He was producing her 1998 track ‘My Love Is Your Love’, which would go onto an album of the same name and would reach the top ten in nearly two dozen international charts.

The song, which Wyclef co-wrote, would lead to Whitney demonstrating “the highest level of swag” he had ever seen after she was accused of singing out of key. 

Wyclef was regaling his favourite interactions with musicians when he revealed one about Whitney Houston that he declared the “coolest” of all time.

On the day of that fateful encounter, he was enamoured by the singer who was one of his “biggest idols”, when suddenly “she hit a note” which “sounded flat” to him.

He continued: “Oh my god. Wyclef Jean has to tell Miss Whitney Houston that the note’s flat, how are you going to do that?”

The star quipped: “But as producers we’re like astronauts, we have obligations.”

This was met with laughter from the audience and Wyclef continued to emphatically mime working at NASA’s ground control – hitting a button that didn’t work.

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He recounted: “So I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I don’t know if this rocket’s going to fly’.

“I’m like ‘Whitney the note is flat,’ and [there’s] deadly silence, you know, I’m like, ‘She’s about to kill me’.”

Fearing a likely lambasting from the star who was known for being strong, sassy and self-assured, he awaited cutting comments for her.  

Wyclef recalled: “She goes, ‘Baby, the note is not flat, I just bent the note’ – and that’s the highest level of swag of diva that I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Later when he listened to the vocal recording again, he realised “she actually did not” sing out of tune and proudly admitted “the note was not flat”.

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Wyclef demonstrated how Whitney had been able to manipulate the musical note while remaining in key with effects on a keyboard.

He stated: “Her ear was so beyond mine, like a keyboard, she could take a note, stretch it and bring it back. 

“She was so in-tune that she could take the note out of pitch and bring it back.”

The audience gave a thunderous applause as they basked in Wyclef’s admiration for Whitney’s undeniable talent and vocal ability.

He signed off: “So I figured at the Tiny Desk [Concerts] everybody’s been saying sad stories about Whitney, I figured [that] I’d tell you something beautiful about Whitney.”

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