Whitney Houston & Her Family: Voices of Love
USA, 2012, 76 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Documentary, Family Issues, Music
Director Gary Keys brings a personal touch to this documentary, a celebration of the late entertainer’s extraordinary talent and legendary musical family. Sadly, it also includes never-before-seen footage of Houston’s funeral earlier this year. Keys chronicles Houston’s career and rise to stardom, featuring inspirational concert footage, and intimate interviews with Houston and her family. A frequent Denver festival guest since 1982, Keys has brought his music documentaries including Memories of Duke, 42nd Street: River to River, and Count Basie: Then as Now, Count’s the King.
Keys has been filming members of Houston’s family since he produced her aunt Dionne Warwick’s first concert at Lincoln Center in 1967. His rapport with the family is apparent as he traces their musical history. It all started with the Drinkard Sisters, a gospel group that included Dionne’s mother, Dee Dee. As Houston tells it, “There was always gospel music in the house.” In keeping with family tradition, Houston began to harmonize with her mother, Cissy, at a young age, and at 14 she was offered a recording contract. Cissy insisted she graduate from high school first.
Voices of Love showcases the family’s musical influence through archival and contemporary performance footage. Keys includes Warwick’s 1960s concerts at the Apollo Theater, some of her early recording sessions, and TV appearances with Burt Bacharach. We also see Houston in duet with Natalie Cole, and her Super Bowl rendition of the national anthem, plus interviews and performances from musical greats Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack. In a candid segment with Oprah Winfrey, Houston addresses her troubled marriage to Bobby Brown. Even though the film documents Houston’s untimely death, her funeral, and an emotional eulogy by actor Kevin Costner, it never fails to celebrate the power of music and the legacy of this influential family.
- JOEY PORCELLI
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DIRECTOR: Gary Keys
Producer: Gary Keys, Emily Morse
Editor: Emily Morse
Principal Cast: Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston, Gary Houston, Pat Houston, Roberta Flack