Whitney Houston set the standard for what international superstardom could look like for many aspiring singers. Brandy has always been open about the impact Houston has had on her life and career and Jessie J is no different. The British born singer looked to Houston as her musical inspiration and came close to meeting the star. But on the day of the scheduled meeting, Houston was found dead.
Jessie J recalls planned meeting with Whitney Houston on the day of Houston’s death and her lifelong admiration for Houston
Jessie has been a longtime fan of Houston and credits the icon with the reason she wanted to pursue a career in singing. In fact, she revealed during a 2015 interview with Entertainment Tonight that she auditioned to be part of a girl group in 2005 and the song she sang during her audition was Houston’s “I Have Nothing” from The Bodyguard Soundtrack.
Just a few years later, Jessie would learn that Houston was an admirer of hers. She learned of Houston being a fan during rehearsals for Clive Davis’s annual Pre-Grammy party in 2012 – in which Jessie was scheduled to perform. She told vocal coach Stevie Mackey during an Instagram live chat that Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, told her during the rehearsal that Houston wanted to meet her at the event.
Houston apparently discovered Jessie by watching her videos on YouTube. “It was the weirdest experience because it was really when I was becoming known in the US,” Jessie told Mackey. “And she’s my everything. She’s the reason I started to sing.”
She was excited to meet Houston the evening of Davis’s party but received word from her manager the day of that Houston passed. Of course, the news ripped Jessie apart.
The Pre-Grammy Party went on in spite of Whitney Houston’s death and was heavily criticized for doing so
As Houston’s body remained in a suite on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hotel where the party was being held, guests arrived at the scheduled event and spoke about the unexpected death of Houston. Davis opted to turn the event into a tribute to Houston and continued with the scheduled event as he claimed, “she would have wanted.”
More than 1,200 industry executives and celebrity guests attended, with some celebrities such as Tyler Perry deciding to skip the event as he felt it was a sign of disrespect that the event went on as planned. Perry instead stayed by the side of Houston’s family as they worked with detectives and medical personnel.
Others paid tribute in heartfelt speeches on the red carpet and live performances on stage. “This Clive Davis thing is like Whitney and Clive’s baby together,” singer Toni Braxton said. “Being here tonight is like keeping her alive.” Braxton also admitted being there under the circumstances was “awkward” as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Jessie attended the Grammy festivities with a broken heart. Since Houston’s death, Jessie has honored Houston through song at tribute shows and during her own concerts. She was even considered to perform at Houston’s funeral but plans fell through.