Houston's first posthumous single previews her final film role, with Sparks, in 'Sparkle.'
W hitney Houston's last creative effort in the form of the movie "Sparkle" isn't due to hit theaters until Aug. 17, But, the motion picture soundtrack's first cut, "Celebrate," a duet with film co-star Jordin Sparks, debuts this week on Billboard's Nielsen BDS-based Adult R&B airplay chart at No. 34.
(The ranking, and all Billboard charts, will be updated Thursday (June 7) on billboard.biz.)
The upbeat "Celebrate" arrives with airplay detected on 45 of the Adult R&B chart's 64 reporters in the May 28-June 3 tracking week. WBAV Charlotte, N.C., led with 13 plays, followed by WXST (12) and WMGL in Charleston, N.C. (10) and WWDM Columbia, S.C. (10). Major-market Adult R&B panelists having sampled the song include WMXD Detroit, KMLQ Houston and WMMJ Washington, D.C. Sirius XM's "Heart & Soul" channel added seven first-time spins.
"Celebrate" helps set up Houston's final film, a remake of the 1976 release "Sparkle." Set in the 1960s, the movie follows three sisters who form a girl group that becomes a Motown sensation, only to see that success challenge the family's tight bonds. Singer Cee Lo Green also appears in the film.
Houston died Feb. 11 at age 48.
"Celebrate" - written and produced by R. Kelly, whose official website notes that the song is the last that Houston ever recorded - has been released to radio with utmost confidence from RCA, Houston, Sparks and Kelly's home label. "'Celebrate' is a great song from an iconic artist (Houston)," says Geo Bivins, RCA senior VP of urban promotion. "It's a great duet with Sparks."
The song's early supporters agree.
"It's too early to tell about it being a hit, but I just like the song," says WBAV program director/music director Terri Avery.
"It's Whitney. People miss her voice."