Whitney Houston opens the door of the back entrance of Apollo Theater in New York City, New York. She turns on the lights and walks onto the stage. Standing at the center, she puts her hand on her heart as she sings.
As a child, her mother put her hand on her back while she looked up at the lights of the theater. About a dozen kids were dancing and singing around her.
The crew move the piano on stage. Another crew member adjusts the microphone.
As a child, she smiles as she approaches the microphone.
She passes the pianist going over the music with the violinists. A young man rolls an amplifier. The director carries his clipboard. A second young man carries a chair. She walks up the stairs to the dressing room.
In her gown, she sits at her vanity and fixes her hair. She puts on some lipstick. As a child, her mother makes jokes as she sits in the dressing room. Her mother walks with her backstage and tells her it’s okay.
While she walks on stage, she sees the child version of herself enter from the opposite side with her. She sings to a sold-out audience. After her performance, she hugs her mother waiting backstage.
The stage was a sacred place for Whitney Houston. Even as a child, she found comfort as she sang for people. She began with her mother. As she watched television shows, she sang along with the theme songs as she played. Her mother had stopped cleaning the dishes and asked her to turn off the television. She walked to the set and turned the dial. Staring down, she apologized for being loud. Her mother asked her to sing the theme again. She sang it again while tears rolled down her mother’s face. She said, “I didn’t mean to make you cry.” However, her mother had hugged her and told her it was beautiful. Whenever her mother had a trying day, she had asked her to sing.
Her mother started to enter in talent competitions. She won them all. Singing at the Apollo Theater was a dream for her. She and her mother had attended concerts of their favorites whenever one of them came into town. Her mother had whispered she was going up there one day. She had tugged her mother’s arm and said she wanted to go on Amateur Night. Her mother said maybe when she was a little bit older. She begged her mother and said she was ready. She could handle it. Her mother prayed that the people would be kind as they listened to her daughter. Her daughter had received a standing ovation.
While taking classes at the community college, Houston sang at a club on the weekends. An agent had spotted her and he could make her famous. Her mother told her she wasn’t meeting the man alone. Her daughter had assured he was legit but she wanted to protect her. Houston signed the contract and was singing background vocals in a matter of days. A major star had loved her performance and asked her to tour with him. She cried as she said goodbye to her daughter for six months.
The return to the Apollo Theater as a headliner was a dream come true. People had paid money to see her perform. Houston recorded her debut album while going to classes during the day. Her agent told her the her first single was going to be on the radio. She and her mother cried as the listened to it. It hit number one. She was a natural star.
Director: Peter Israelson Year: 1986