Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Siti Nurhaliza & Whitney Houston Duet on "Memories"

The loss of Whitney Houston is still being felt today, four years after her passing. Being such an iconic vocalist, it's no surprise those she has inspired have wished to tribute her memory through their own work. A Diva who has done just that is Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza.

Taking Memories, one of Houston's lesser known recordings, the song has been reworked into a duet between the pair. The blurb from the video provides further insight into the project:

The original recording of Memories in 1982, contained Whitney Houston’s first lead vocal - recorded when she was 19 years old, with Material; a New York based funk-alternative band led by bass player Bill Laswell.

Adam Kidron, Yonder Music’s CEO “discovered” Memories reading Whitney Houston: Five great performances on Michael Hann’s Guardian blog. The impact of the track has stayed with him ever since.

The reimagining of Memories as a ridiculously powerful duet between Whitney Houston and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza (by far the most influential singer in Malaysia) came about when Adam learned that Whitney was and is Siti’s favorite singer and that Siti had learned to sing from Whitney’s performances.

The original track was been performed as a duet between Whitney and the legendary saxophone player, Archie Sheep Here, in the 2016 version Archie is replaced by Dato’ singing a searing tribute to her memory of Whitney

The duet was performed for the first time at Stadium Negara, in Kuala Lumpur on April 2nd of this year, in front of 7,500 fans. It was received rapturously. The music video contains “found” footage of Whitney recording the original, intercut with scenes from the Stadium Negara show.

That night, Memories (2016) became, an instant classic, and uncannily relevant to today, as many of those who attended the show that night noted that the imagery presented - of the one of greatest Muslim singers ever, dueting with Gospel born and raised Whitney - served as a direct rebuttal to the purveyors of intolerance and segregation that have recently found a powerful voice.

The intent behind the mash-up is an honourable one, however the execution causes problems.

With Siti's performance being a faster take than the original, the producers have sped up Whitney's voice to match the new tempo. The result, an already lighter, youthful-sounding Whitney is almost unrecognisable in the finished product. In my opinion the song worked just as well as a tribute with only Siti, who managed to admirably put her own spin on the song.

Still, this duet should see an obscure Whitney recording get some shine.


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