*The recent death of Whitney Houston has left many of us in deep sorrow.
In this five part series, “African American Publicists Remember Whitney Houston,” Whitney’s former label [Arista Records] publicists Ken Reynolds, Tracey Jordan, Mary Moore, Jackie Rhinehart and Gwendolyn Quinn recall the genius and brilliance of a one-of-a- kind icon—one of the best voices of all time! (Unfortunately Audrey LaCatis Onyeike was not able to submit an essay at press time.)
My Brush with Greatness: Whitney Houston
by Mary L. Moore
RIP Whitney Houston! We miss you and will always love you!
*I was a talent scout at Star Search when Arista Records’ Vice President of Publicity, Melani Rogers, who knew me from my prior tenure in Concerts/Artist Relations at Radio City Music Hall, recruited me over to Arista, to embark on my first record label journey.
So, on 8/8/88, I entered the star making company as Director of R&B Publicity and worked in concert with Melani on press coverage for the label’s phenomenal urban talent, including Ms. Whitney Houston. Incidentally, I was already acquainted with Whitney, through my job at Radio City Music Hall, where it occasionally happened that I would seat celebrities who wanted to attend a sold-out show in the theater’s President’s viewing booth; Whitney was one such celebrity visitor. Anyway, joining Arista Records was an exciting career turn for me.
A year into being at Arista, I was transferred over to the Artist Development/Video Department, and became Director of R&B Artist Development, more commonly known as a Product Manager. In that capacity, I was able to work more closely with the label’s artists. I remember Whitney as a very fun and gracious talent. She took her work seriously, but always kept things fun. She had a ready smile and was very down-to-earth and easy to work with.
The photo that accompanies this written memory is from when we worked together in Atlanta, at LA and Babyface’s studio, so that Whitney could record some needed greetings and liners for her “I’m Your Baby Tonight” release. And though I departed Arista around the time that the CD was released in November 1990, imagine my surprise to have been invited to Whitney’s 1992 wedding (which was a magnificent event—I’d never seen that many huge white tents in my life, and all the celebrity faces were fascinating). But, that’s the type of person that Whitney was; she didn’t forget people. She wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, she was equally as beautiful on the inside.
I feel richer for having had the experience of working with a legend.