Whitney Houston, a star of the first magnitude–when she was alive– is reportedly ready to shine again on stage as a hologram. Is this the unholy future of music?
The iconic singer died tragically on the eve of the Grammy Awards in 2012. She was found submerged in a bathtub and her death was later ruled to be a drug overdose.
Now, a digital version of the late star will embark on a world tour next year as part of the “An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour,” according to Brian Becker, chairman and CEO of BASE Entertainment and BASE Hologram.
“Whitney Houston was a talent beyond words, and her influence and artistry transcended all boundaries,” he said, announcing the tour.
The tour will be worldwide and kick off in Mexico in January 2020. Then, it will head to Europe and North America later in the year.
“What we are creating here is a new type of theatrical concert experience designed to capture that magic,” Becker explained.
“When she performed there was an unmatched level of charisma and emotion to it – that’s what we are going to bring to audiences, and it’s an honor to be able to help add to her legacy with this project.”
Such a tour, undoubtedly, has a ghoulish aspect to it.
Whitney’s cousin, famed singer Dionne Warwick, is opposed to the hologram tour. She called it a “stupid” idea.
“I haven’t a clue as to what that is. It’s surprising to me. I don’t know what it is. I think it’s stupid, but whatever it is that’s what it is,” she said.
But celebrities have long been known to generate income well after their deaths. Late stars like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley and even non-musicians like author Charles Schultz earn millions of dollars each year.
Holograms may just be the next logical step in the technological advancement of music and could keep dead stars earning in perpetuity from a new revenue stream–live, er… dead, performances.
Houston sold more than 200 million albums and singles and had 11 No. 1 songs—including, her mega-hit “I Will Always Love You.” It spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the charts.
The soundtrack from her hit movie, “The Bodyguard,” won a Grammy for Album of the Year and remains the best-selling soundtrack of all time.
Her Greatest Hits album sold 64,000 copies in the day following her death and 818,000 copies in the U.S. alone through the first half of 2012. Houston sold 3.7 million albums and 4.3 million singles worldwide the same year, Forbes reported.
Ultimately, she left behind an estate valued at $20 million, all of which went to her daughter, Bobbi Christina Brown. When Bobbi died under suspicious circumstances in 2015, the estate transferred to other relatives.
At the peak of her career, her net-worth was reportedly north of $100 million. But at the time of he death, she was reportedly worth only a fraction of that amount.
Ironically, her after-death earning power will not benefit her estate. The publishing rights to her songs and albums are owned by others.
Dolly Parton wrote and owns her biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You,” and music mogul Clive Davis controls much of her work.
The tour will feature a live band and backing singers and dancers.
This won’t be Whitney’s first outing as a hologram. She appeared digitally in May 2016 for a duet with on “The Voice,” with Christina Aguilera, who is still very much alive.
But the performance was a bust and the family pulled it before it aired.
“After closely viewing the performance, we decided the hologram was not ready to air. We have much respect and appreciation for Christina, and she was absolutely flawless,” said sister-in-law Pat Simpson at the time.
“We were looking to deliver a ground-breaking duet performance for the fans of both artists. Holograms are new technology that take time to perfect, and we believe with artists of this iconic caliber, it must be perfect. Whitney’s legacy and her devoted fans deserve perfection,” she added.