Whitney Houston Estate Is Open for Business, Starting With Hologram Tour and Possible Musical, Album
Seven years after her death, Whitney Houston's estate is ready to do business. The late singer's sister-in-law, Pat Houston, the sole executor of the estate, has revealed plans for a "hologram" tour, an album of unreleased material, a possible musical and increased branding opportunities thanks to a 50 percent arrangement with Primary Wave Music Publishing, according to The New York Times.
The Primary Wave deal, signed last week, gives the publisher a 50 percent stake in Houston estate assets, including royalties from her music and film careers, as well as merchandising and the right to explore commercial uses of her name and likeness. The deal valued Houston's estate at $14 million, Billboard can confirm.
"Whitney was America's sweetheart, and the idea now is to remind people that that is what her legacy is," commented Larry Mestel, Primary Wave's founder.
The first act in this revival of Houston's legacy will be the hologram tour, which is currently under development, the estate said. Houston would join other similar posthumous singers as laser-projected performers on the road, including Roy Orbison, Frank Zappa and Ronnie James Dio. The Times reports that Houston's former backing band, including her brother Gary, Pat's husband, would perform the music on the tour.
BASE Hologram, the company behind hologram tours for Orbison, Maria Callas and Buddy Holly, is working with the Houston estate on the project.
Future projects would include a Broadway-style musical featuring Houston's songs and a new album of unused tracks from the R&B/pop icon's 1985 debut album. Mestel indicated that discussions with Broadway producers were already underway for the musical, while Primary Wave and the estate will have to work closely with Sony, which owns Houston's recordings, on music releases.
The 48-year-old Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012 at a hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., just hours before she was set to perform at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards event. The singer's death was caused by accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use as factors. The family endured further tragedy three years later with the death of Houston's daughter with Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
"Everything is about timing for me," Pat Houston told the Times about why it was now choosing to mount a comeback for Houston's image. "It’s been quite emotional for the past seven years. But now it's about being strategic."
Pat Houston said that prior to her sister-in-law's death, there was "so much negativity" around her image and name and that "people had forgotten how great she was."
Billboard has reached out to Primary Wave about the Houston deal and will update this story when more information is made available.
Since its founding in 2006, Primary Wave has grown into a full-service music company that includes brand marketing, digital marketing, publicity, film/TV and commercial synchronization. Over the years, the company has acquired the copyrights and income streams to over 15,000 songs from such musicians as Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson, Kurt Cobain and John Lennon. It recently acquired a stake in Leon Russell's catalog as well.