("We Will Always Love You: A GRAMMY Salute To Whitney Houston" will air Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.)
I had a long and memorable history with Whitney. I've been working on her records since 1998. Sometimes we made great music together. Other times in the studio, we didn't get much done but had a lot of fun.
My first meeting with Whitney was at her home in New Jersey where we went to record vocals for her album. We were to work at Whitney's beautiful studio in her guest house and I was excited as I arrived to a meal cooked by her amazing chef. Unfortunately, I didn't see Whitney for the first day or two. However, when she came across the huge lawn, into the guest house, and stepped in the studio, we all knew we were in the presence of greatness. She had an energy and intensity that filled the room; fun but serious, creative but all business. She warmed up for about 30 seconds and quickly told us that we should make sure we had her mic and her sound right because she was only going to sing the song a couple times down. Thinking to myself that there was no way she was going to get this vocal right that quickly, I started the session. Of course, the first time she opened her mouth, I knew she absolutely would nail the perfect vocal and it was going to happen quickly. It took her all of three takes and she was out of the booth and back across the lawn as fast as she had come. Everyone in the studio was left with our mouths open and I remember saying, "That right there, was Whitney Houston!"
There were many other occasions where she did things that surprised me vocally but always consistent was her genuine and generous spirit, her fun-loving attitude and her joie de vive. I will miss her but will always remember how much fun we had together recording music that will live on forever.
(Harvey Mason Jr. has penned and produced songs for artists such as GRAMMY winners Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Justin Timberlake, and Luther Vandross, among others. Mason has received three GRAMMY nominations to date, his most recent coming in 2007 for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television, Or Other Visual Media for Dreamgirls. He is a current Recording Academy Trustee.)