Whitney Houston, who passed away on February 11, 2012, not only found legions of fans with her incomparable voice, she was also the galvanizing inspiration for generations of singers. To honor Houston’s amazing music during the week of this sad anniversary, Billboard.com asked Chrisette Michele, Melanie Fiona and Jessica Sanchez — three younger vocalists who counted Whitney as a guiding musical force — to pay tribute to the late, great star the most fitting way possible: by each singing one of her biggest hits. Today, watch Chrisette Michele sing Houston’s smash “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
“I study her DVDs,” says Michele, who has seen three Hot 100 hits of her own, of Houston’s influence. “Literally the way footballers take notes before the Super Bowl, I’ll watch a Whitney show before I go onstage.”
Whitney’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1987 and the song was also her first gold single. Accompanied only by a spare electric guitar, Michele’s take is a warm, jazzy rendition of the friendly, uptempo hit.
“I love the fun young Whitney when she was moving her shoulders and moving her hair around and she was dancing, that’s a big part of who whitney is to me,” Michele says, remembering the early-’20s Houston who made the song famous. Whitney was, “somebody who was playful and lit up the stage and just inspired us all to have a good time.”