For millions of music fans, Saturday night (Feb. 11) will always be remembered as the night that Whitney Houston passed away at the age of 48. But for Karmin, the upstart pop duo who were about to make their debut on “Saturday Night Live” before even releasing their debut album, the night represented a huge career milestone which sadly had to be realized in the wake of a shocking tragedy.
Karmin’s Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan tell Billboard.com that they found out about Houston’s death just hours before taking the “SNL” stage to perform their songs “Brokenhearted” and “I Told You So.” “I’m sitting in the makeup chair, and I hear our publicist talking about it, and he’s like ‘No, it’s not real, it’s just a rumor, it can’t be true,'” says Heidemann. “And then he said that it was confirmed.
“I just remember sitting in the chair and everything just kind of disappeared, and it was very emotionally overwhelming for me,” she continues. “Me and Nick have had this amazing year, and I used to lay in bed at night listening to Whitney sing, as a little girl just alone in Nebraska, dreaming that someday I could do this for a career too. So it was really difficult, and the makeup artist’s job got a lot more difficult, because she had to wipe my face off.”
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A few days removed from the experience, however, Heidemann says that the upsetting news thankfully did not hinder Karmin’s pair of performances. “Even though it was very, very sad… I just kind of redirected that energy into our performance, I think. I actually felt a little bit of empowerment going onstage, and the rehearsal went way better than the soundcheck; it was phenomenal. And then obviously [on the] live broadcast, we felt so good about our show.”
Noonan adds that Houston’s death did not create a somber atmosphere on the “Saturday Night Live” set — with host Zooey Deschanel and surprise guests Jean Dujardin and Nicolas Cage in tow, the pop duo were treated like family. “That stage is just such history — literally everybody has been up on that stage,” says Noonan. “And the cast could not have been nicer. Kristin Wiig is actually the nicest person in the world. And everybody, Jason Sudeikis, Seth Meyers, all those guys could not have been more supportive.”
After breaking out on YouTube with covers of Chris Brown‘s “Look At Me Now” and Nicki Minaj‘ s “Super Bass,” Karmin is prepping their debut album for an April release on Epic Records, although a specific date has not yet been set. “Our birthdays are at the end of the month, so that’d be a fun present!” says Heidemann.