Courtesy of The daily News-Los Angeles
Fans are still reeling from the February death of music icon Whitney Houston, but a new exhibit has made sure her spirit and legacy are still hitting those high notes.
The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles last week opened “Whitney! Celebrating The Musical Legacy Of Whitney Houston” with the help of the singer’s family.
Bob Santelli, the museum’s executive director, says he can’t take credit for the idea. Rather, he says, it was those faithful Houston fans who made the suggestion.
“This is a great Grammy legend,” Santelli said of Houston. “I thought it was a great idea, but I couldn’t figure out exactly how to put this exhibit into play at the time that they needed it because it seemed like so many fans wanted to be
Admission: $12.95, $11.95 seniors and students, $10.95 children age 6 to 17 and the military, free for children 5 and under.
Information: 213-765-6803 or grammymuseum.org.
able to come to the Grammy Museum, much like they came when Michael Jackson tragically passed a few years ago, to honor the musical legacy of one of America’s greatest entertainers.”
The museum contacted the Houston family and with their help fast-tracked the exhibit, which features her many awards including her six Grammys; the star’s designer dresses such as a red Oscar de La Renta dress she wore when accepting her first Grammy in 1986; family photos; her choir robe and diploma from grade school; scrapbooks from fans and much more.
“We think that in the end we have picked these things that people will find the most interesting and in many cases bring back fun memories. You will also get to see things that you’ve never seen before,” said the singer’s sister-in-law Pat Houston at the Grammy Museum on the day of the exhibit’s opening.
The family was allowed to privately view the exhibit prior to the public opening and afterward Pat Houston praised Bob Santelli and his son, Jake Santelli, who curated the exhibit, saying they did a remarkable job.
It was Jake Santelli’s first time curating an exhibit for the museum, and it was no easy feat.
They tried to touch on every aspect of Whitney Houston’s professional career, including her early modeling days, her national and international fame in the music industry and her roles in blockbuster films such as “The Bodyguard.”
They even included some memorabilia from the just-released “Sparkle,” Whitney Houston’s last film.
“This was a person who gave of herself,” Bob Santelli said. “She gave her gifts to us, to America, to the world, and the Grammy Museum is only honored to be able to tell that story in a way that, I think, is uplifting and also inspiring not just to the fans but also to young people, many of whom come through these doors on a daily basis.”
One such young museum visitor is Doug Locke, 24, of Los Angeles, who was in attendance on the exhibit’s opening day.
A major Whitney Houston fan, he grew up watching “The Bodyguard,” he says, and the exhibit offered him insight into who she really was.
“It’s just been truly amazing. At first glance you’re sort of overwhelmed by just all of the achievements and accolades of this amazing woman, but upon further inspection you really get to see a personal side of her that her family saw,” Locke said.
“You get to see old clippings, you get to see her Grammys, you get to see signed scripts. And some of the exhibits here are really interactive, which has been really cool. You really get to know her on a deeper level.”
With Whitney Houston’s music playing in the background, museum-goers can read about
those who inspired her on the “inspiration wall.” In another area of the exhibit, fans can remix her song “How Will I Know?” which she co-wrote with Narada Michael Walden.
Walden, also a music producer, worked with Whitney Houston on her first three albums. At the exhibit, a video is played inside a small room, or a “studio booth,” during which Walden takes visitors through the process of creating a hit record.
Inside the booth there’s a microphone and at the end of Walden’s presentation, Whitney Houston’s music video for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is played and visitors can sing along as the lyrics scroll across the bottom of the screen.
While touring the exhibit, Walden described working with Whitney Houston as a profound experience and he’s fond of the exhibit.
“I think this is a wonderful way to honor her,” Walden says. “As well as … we’re going to do much more. Her passing is still very recent to all of us and we’re still grieving, we’re still missing her.”
Though her family is still grieving as well, they say receiving the call from the Grammy Museum meant a great deal to them. They were selective in the items they chose to be featured in the exhibit and hope that those who visit will enjoy learning about the real Whitney.
“We truly hope that you enjoy this peek into a wonderful life and career of Whitney. And all of us in her family are honored and thank you not from the bottom of our hearts, from the top of our hearts,” Pat Houston said.
“This is truly, truly overwhelming but we are really very overjoyed that we are here today to represent and be a part of such a wonderful and splendid career of such a beautiful and talented woman. We love you, Whitney, and thank you.”