“I love this music,” said Brent Havens, a Cincinnati native who founded Windborne Music in 1990. “It’s so rich. I heard her music back in the day when she was really popular and putting out albums. You’d hear her everywhere you went, in the supermarket and all over the radio. I thought it was great stuff, but I didn’t own a lot of her records. I was more into jazz and rock fusion stuff.

“Once I started digging into it, I realized it’s some really rich music,” he continued. “The chord structures and melodies are gorgeous. I was like, ‘Wow, this is really some fabulous music.’ It ended up being like, ‘OK, this is really great stuff.’ I never met her. I never saw her in concert, but I really love the music.”



The superstar

Houston was one of the biggest artists in the world from the mid-1980s into the late 1990s. Sadly, the career of the acclaimed singer and actress was derailed by substance abuse issues. She died by accidental drowning in 2012 at the age of 48.

Houston was 19 when signed with Arista Records. The label, her home for all seven studio albums, released her self-titled debut in 1985. It featured three No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart, including “The Greatest Love of All.” She went on to score a total of 11 number ones. Houston also won eight Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmy Awards.

The singer transitioned into acting alongside Kevin Costner in the romantic thriller, “The Bodyguard,” the second highest grossing film of 1992 internationally. Her film credits include “Waiting to Exhale” (1995), “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996) and “Sparkle” (2012).

The show

Of course, for Havens and his team of musicians, it’s about the music Houston created.

“There are a lot of ballads, obviously, because that’s who Whitney was but it’s just gorgeous music,” he said. “At first, I wasn’t sure how to put an orchestra with some of the up-tempo songs like ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody.’ A lot of the synthesizer stuff in the original recordings, I put in the brass sections.

“I had to sit with it for a while to figure what to do with woodwinds and strings,” he continued. “I wrote a lot of counterpoint type stuff to get out of the way of the hits that everybody knows. I wrote around the brass with the woodwinds and the strings. Ultimately, as you get into it, you’re like, ‘Oh, you know what, that does work. It sounds great.’ That’s a perfect example of how I made it work.”



The rising star

To help bring Houston’s music to life, Havens brought in Broadway vocalist Rashidra Scott, who grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The aforementioned “Greatest Love of All” was the first song Scott ever sang. She was 4 years old. She soon earned a reputation around town as “The Little Girl with the Big Voice.” At 12 Scott won a talent show run by Teddy Riley with a rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”

Scott graduated from Berklee College of Music with a bachelor’s degree in music with a concentration in music business/management. She spent four years working for Walt Disney Entertainment, singing on Disney Cruise Line and at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and later working on the opening team for Hong Kong Disneyland.

She eventually found her way to Broadway where her vocal talents were soon in high demand. Her projects include “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “Sister Act,” “Hair,” “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Avenue Q.”

“Rashidra is just ridiculous,” Havens said. “She’s a phenomenal performer. She kills the show. She has done so many different shows on Broadway. She’s amazing. I hadn’t worked with her before but it’s interesting because I’m in Virginia so a lot of musicians I know either knew her or knew of her.”

The sound

While the songs will be familiar to fans, Havens believes the symphonic presentation brings the material to life.

“The fact there’s a 60-piece orchestra playing fills the songs out so beautifully,” he said. “If you want to hear Whitney Houston in a really lush, gorgeous sound come see the show with the Dayton Philharmonic. You’re going to get this beautiful, rich show with a killer singer out front and a ridiculously talented band that just nails it.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or donthrasher100@gmail.com.


What: Dayton Performing Arts Alliance presents Windborne’s The Music of Whitney Houston with Rashidra Scott and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra

Where: Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St., Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18

Cost: $5-$88.50

More info: 937-228-3630 or daytonlive.org

Artist info: windbornemusic.com

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