You loved Whitney Houston, so you’ll pay to watch a “performance” by a spectral rendering of her that weighs about as much as a melismatic run and will be backed by her original band, as well as a bunch of back-up singers including her half-brother Gary Houston (née Garland). Right???
Her estate hopes so. According to a New York Times report, a deal has been brokered with Primary Wave Music Publishing that will yield new content for the legend who has been dead for seven years. It goes something like this: Primary Wave gets 50 percent of the Houston estate assets (including but not limited to royalties) and the right to exploit her likeness to make those assets even more valuable. Things like a hologram tour not only generate their own funds, but in turn serve to stimulate interest in Houston’s back catalog, which is more accessible than ever thanks to streaming. It is, like most of these things, all about money but also, according to estate executor/Houston’s sister-in-law Pat Houston and Primary Wave founder Larry Mestel, legacy. A potentially lucrative legacy.
The Times piece reports that the estate is valued around $14 million and that an album of unreleased Houston music—at least some of it dating back to her 1985 debut album—is on the way. Mestel says they’re also in discussions for a musical. Houston’s music may also be licensed commercially but Mestel says: “For Whitney Houston, who had an elegant voice and an elegant way about her, we wouldn’t do a fast-food brand relationship, for example.” Reassuring!
“The hologram has taken precedence over everything,” according to Pat Houston. That’s a great quote (imagine placing such importance on a hologram!), but also a daunting premise. Remember last time they tried this?
Not to be negative, but the forthcoming hologram will most certainly be lip syncing. Way to honor a master performer’s legacy.