Clive Davis: 'You Won't Forget' Whitney Houston's New Album

Legendary music producer on Houston's stunning career, resilience and new album.

ByABC News via logo
July 13, 2009, 12:37 PM

July 14, 2009— -- Whitney Houston is the most honored female artist of all time. She's the only artist ever to have seven consecutive multiplatinum albums, beating out even the Beatles. And now the man who has been with her from the start is talking about her comeback and sharing his memories of her extraordinary career.

Legendary music producer Clive Davis remembers Houston as that young girl who first gave us her remarkable sound, made famous in songs like "The Greatest Love of All" and "I Will Always Love You."

Just the name Whitney Houston brings to mind that voice: the musical range, the enormous range of emotion, and a kind of power that can make a perfect arrow out of just one note.

"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club called Sweet Waters right here in Manhattan ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer. "To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine."

Houston made the same impact across the country when introduced for the first time on television, 25 years ago.

"I remember going on Merv Griffin's show and I remember introducing Whitney for the first time," Davis said. "Whitney came on and she sang the song 'Home' from 'The Wiz,' and that was our first public performance together."

Even with Houston's debut success and enormous talent, it took two years to release her first album.

"People say, 'what takes so long?'" Davis said. "You've got to make sure that no matter how outstanding an artist is ... If you don't have special material, if you don't have the right material, you're not going to make the impact that you want to make."

Houston's first single, "You Give Good Love" went to number one on the Billboard charts. Then came a string of number one hits -- seven in all -- breaking a record set by the Beatles.

"When you are breaking records like that you really have to pinch yourself," Davis said.

Houston's New Album

Houston was also the first artist to make a chart-topping hit out of the national anthem.

Her performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV in 1991 was recorded and sold as a fundraising effort for Gulf War soldiers, and it hit number 20 on the Billboard charts.

"Certainly, 'The Star Spangled Banner' is one of those vivid memories of America, indeed everyone everywhere, of hearing our national anthem performed in that manner," Davis said. "It was a stunning memory."

But for Davis, the making of the film "The Bodyguard" remains perhaps his fondest memory.

"When the first rush of 'The Bodyguard' was sent to me, there was little, if any, music at all," he said. "I mean, her acting was decent. It was good, but it was not bravura.

"I wrote a letter to the director and I said you've got to go back, you've got to shoot again," he continued. "We'll come up with music, we'll come up with great songs to show who Whitney is and what she is and why she needs to be protected by a bodyguard. And the director at the time didn't get it. He fought it."

But co-star Kevin Costner shared Davis' vision -- the director was fired and they changed the film.

"Of course, the rest is history because the songs are such a part of the film," he said. "The album has become the best-selling soundtrack album of all time."

And now more than seven years since we last heard from Houston, she's releasing a new album on Aug. 31, titled "I Look to You."

"What I want the public to most know is that there's always room for creative artistry, there's always room for a great all-time singer," he said. "An all-time singer singing great songs."

The man who discovered her says he wants to show that Houston "still stands for the best of song writing, the best of singing -- and we know the public wants it."

"You won't forget it after you hear it," Davis said, calling the album a labor of love for all involved. "There is a song on this album which is called 'I Didn't Know My Own Strength' and it really speaks for Whitney. She tumbled but she didn't crumble."

Houston will perform live on "GMA" on Sept. 2. Stay tuned to "GMA" and for more information, and CLICK HERE to visit Whitney Houston's official Web site.