Grammys 2012: Whitney Houston tribute to be sung by Jennifer Hudson
Grammys Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich and his team were scrambling Saturday night to find a poignant and proper way to mark the passing of Whitney Houston and their plan was to have Jennifer Hudson perform a "respectful musical tribute" on the CBS broadcast on Sunday night.
"It's too fresh in everyone's memory to do more at this time, but we would be remiss if we didn't recognize Whitney's remarkable contribution to music fans in general, and in particular her close ties with the Grammy telecast and her Grammy wins and nominations over the years," said Ehrlich, a key figure in the Grammys since the early 1980s.
Ehrlich said it was difficult for him to watch the decline of Houston through the years as addiction and chaos took away too much of her golden success story and her singular voice.
"It's hard to think of an artist who had such an incredible instrument, not to mention beauty, which made her difficulties in recent years even harder to accept," Ehrlich said.
Ehrlich recalled one shaky night in New York when word of Houston's behavior leading up to the award show spurred him to visit her dressing room at Madison Square Garden to gauge her ability to perform -- he marveled to find that she had already pulled herself together.
A fonder memory was, in the 1980s, watching Grammy director Walter Miller show the young singer how to walk down a set of "TV stairs" -- they were the first ones she had ever navigated.
"She was like a young filly about to head out on the track for her first race, a race you knew she was not only going to win, but would set any number of records," Ehrlich said.
[For the record, 8:38 a.m. Feb. 12: An earlier version of this post misspelled the last name of Grammys Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich as Erhlich.]
-- Geoff Boucher
Photo: Whitney Houston performs at the Anaheim Arena. Credit: Los Angeles Times