Dayton Philharmonic salutes the music of Whitney Houston

Broadway actress Rashidra Scott and rock ensemble Windborne are featured in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series presentation of “The Music of Whitney Houston” Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Schuster Center. CONTRIBUTED

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Broadway actress Rashidra Scott and rock ensemble Windborne are featured in the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series presentation of “The Music of Whitney Houston” Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Schuster Center. CONTRIBUTED

Iconic pop hits that defined a generation and the legacy of a phenomenal vocalist are on the menu as the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series salutes “The Music of Whitney Houston” with guest conductor Brent Havens and guest vocalist Rashidra Scott Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Schuster Center.

Selling more than 170 million albums and receiving seven Grammy Awards, Houston was a sensational talent blessed with an incomparable gift of song and broad-based appeal. In fact, she was named the most-awarded female act of all time by the Guinness World Records. Saturday’s program, featuring Havens’ rock ensemble Windborne, incorporates a slew of her best-loved hits from the 1980s and 1990s, including “How Will I Know,” I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” “The Greatest Love of All,” “Saving All My Love for You,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” and “I Will Always Love You.”

Scott, a graduate of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, has been seen on Broadway in “Avenue Q,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Hair,” “Sister Act,” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” She also sung background vocals for Patti Austin’s “BeboperElla!” tour in conjunction with the release of Austin’s Ella Fitzgerald tribute album, “For Ella.” Her TV credits include “Rescue Me,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “The View.” She recently discussed Houston’s impact and her signature tunes in advance of the concert, which will be held exactly five years since Houston’s tragic death at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

Q: Were you always influenced by Whitney’s artistry?

A: Celebrities can touch people's lives in different ways. When I was 3 or 4 years old I sang along to "The Greatest Love of All" on the radio, which was how my mother found out I could sing. I get to introduce each song in the concert so I enjoy sharing that story. Thanks to Whitney, I literally found my voice. I often think about Whitney's era in music, a time in which music really had a message. Particularly in times of turmoil there were singers and songwriters coming together to help give the world the strength we didn't know we could find.

Q: Are there certain songs that are your favorites?

A: I'm a newlywed, so all of the mushy love songs are great like "All The Man That I Need." But I also love "One Moment in Time," "My Name is Not Susan" and "I Will Always Love You." There are 17 songs on the program. It's a good, vocally long night, but fun and always worth it.

Q: What are your chief goals in interpreting Houston’s repertoire?

A: When I was in college, my voice teacher told me that music should come from within and not be contrived. So, I must admit I'm a purist. I pretty much, note for note, sing Whitney's recorded versions. Every once in a while I will embellish on a note or phrasing, but I'm aware nobody wants to hear my take on a song to the point that it becomes unrecognizable. People want to hear Whitney's versions and I'm paying homage in turn. It's all about paying respect to Whitney's memory.

Q: What do you feel this concert represents in terms of her legacy?

A: So much of her last decade was caught up in drama, from Bobby Brown to drug addiction to her losing her voice literally and figuratively. Her voice was her gift, so this concert invites everyone to remember why we fell in love with her and her hits. I'm doing my best effort to recall her voice and to remind people of her voice.

Q: What should the audience anticipate?

A: I hope everyone wears comfortable shoes, because I will sincerely encourage everyone to stand up and have a good time. It's truly going to be a fun night of music. I know a lot of people go to symphonic shows not expecting to let loose or dance in the aisles, but a lively atmosphere makes the show so much fun for me and everyone involved. We're offering a true celebration of a great artist.


WANT TO GO?

What: "The Music of Whitney Houston"

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11

Cost: $29-$81

Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or visit www.daytonperformingarts.org

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