“She looks fabulous,” Dionne Warwick, a cousin of Houston’s, said backstage.
Houston sang a medley of her hits as some of the biggest names in the label’s history gathered toperform for Arista founder Davis, who signed Houston when she was 19. The two-hour specialwas taped to air May 15 on NBC.
The singer performed six of her hits, including “How Will I Know” and “I Believe in You andMe,” during a 20-minute performance that began and ended with standingovations.
“The record’s not over yet, remember,” Houston said cryptically at the end of her performance.
“God bless you. I love you.”
Rumors about Houston have swirled in the wake drug abuse allegations, a much-discussedabsence at last month’s Oscars and a disjointed magazine interview. Houston has denied abusingdrugs in the past.
Three weeks before the Oscars, Houston failed to appear at the Rock and Roll Hall of Famedinner where she was scheduled to help induct Davis.
And in January, when airport security officers in Hawaii said they found a half-ounce ofmarijuana in Houston’s bag. Rather than wait for police to arrive, the 36-year-old Houstonboarded her flight and left the islands. Houston has not been charged in the incident.
Wearing a leopard dress and white fur jacket, Houston sat smiling in the audience Monday withher arm resting on the arm of husband Bobby Brown during a medley by Barry Manilow. Seatednext to Davis, Houston sang along as Manilow performed “I Write the Songs.”
She and Brown later rose to their feet in the front row to dance to “Supernatural” by Santana. Backstage, Warwick denied a report in this week’s People magazine that she and Natalie Colewere going to talk to Houston about her alleged drug problem.
“I read it like you did. I don’t know where that came from,” Warwick said.
Houston’s publicist had blamed a sore throat for the Oscar no-show and “voice problems” for theHall of Fame absence.