Whitney談新專輯I Look To You製作歷程
WHITNEY'S I LOOK TO YOU: IN HER WORDS
In the twenty-five years since she recorded her history-making debut album, Whitney Houston has become a superstar, a legend, an icon. One of the bestselling female artists of all time, she has sold over 140 million albums worldwide. She has been cited as an influence by the likes of Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, and Leona Lewis, and last year, Rolling Stone listed Houston as one of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time." But when her longtime mentor Clive Davis, currently Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment Worldwide, first approached her about recording her first album since 2002's Just Whitney, Houston didn't think that she wanted to get back in the game.
"When Clive called me and said, 'Are you ready?,' I said, 'Ready for what?,'" she recalls. "
Fortunately, though, Davis was persistent-and the result, almost three years later, is the remarkable new album I Look to You. The disc matches Houston with some of the hottest writers and producers in pop and R&B (including R. Kelly, David Foster, Akon, Stargate, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz) for a set of songs full of her signature vocal power and passion. The album is built on a strong message of survival and perseverance, and reflects the hard-earned lessons of the high-profile personal challenges Houston has encountered in recent years.
A key song for the project was "Nothin' But Love," a propulsive dance groove co-produced by Fernando Garibay (Britney Spears, Lady GaGa). "If there was anything I wanted to say after some of the things I had gone through," Houston says, "it was that I had nothing but love, regardless of the situation. Maybe that's just the way I was raised, or maybe I had just gotten to the point of, it's all behind me now and I'm moving forward."
Davis, the album's Co-Producer, brought R. Kelly's composition "I Look to You" to Houston, and her reaction was instant-though she hadn't been given all the information. "I heard the song, and I loved that it was so short and sweet," she says. "And then I got to Chicago, and Robert told me there was still another verse to write and a bridge! So he stood there with me in the studio and wrote the second verse right off the top of his head. He closed his eyes, we kinda leaned on each other. As he was singing, I was praying, and the words just came out."
The song (one of two Kelly contributed; he also delivered the defiantly funky "Salute") would go on to give the album its title, and she credits Davis with understanding what the lyrics would mean to her. "When Clive heard 'I Look to You,' because he knows my background in gospel, he knew that song would put it all in check for me," she says.
The relationship between Houston and Davis goes all the way back to 1983, when he signed the young artist to Arista Records. He oversaw the development and marketing of her thirteen-million-selling debut, Whitney Houston. After all these years, he remains so close to the singer that she refers to him as "my father in the industry."
"Clive and I are partners," says Houston. "He still loves music, still loves lyrics and melodies. He's one of the few people who still has that gift of knowing what song fits with what voice. Clive is able to go beyond the personality and see what's inside a person, what really motivates them."
"To be reunited with Whitney is so fulfilling," adds Davis. "The album provides the most exciting challenge I've ever had and whatever happens, I know it's very special. Its music and her voice will once again impact millions all over the world for many years to come."
Even with a few strong songs in motion, though, Houston still wasn't sure that she had found the direction she was looking for. Surprisingly, it's the most light-hearted moment on I Look to You-the disco-flavored roller-skating jam "Million Dollar Bill"-which she considers the turning point.
"I worked with Alicia Keys on that one," she says, "and it was probably the most fun, but it also felt like I was working with someone who understood me, who could relate to me, singer to singer. At that point, I knew that it was coming together, that this was the album that I wanted, and that it was going to get done after two-and-a-half years in the making."
Akon, another 21st-century hitmaker joined forces with Houston for "Like I Never Left." She notes that the singer was a favorite among the friends of her daughter, Bobbi Kristina; "they all had his songs as their ring tones," she says. Houston praises the "island feel" of Akon's work, and adds that when she heard "Like I Never Left," she thought, "that sounds like it could be an album title for me."
Perhaps the most memorable recording session came on the powerhouse ballad "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," written by Diane Warren. The song reunited Houston with producer David Foster, who worked with her on the incomparable soundtrack to the 1992 film The Bodyguard, one of the biggestselling albums in history. Foster's home was damaged in the Malibu fires of 2007, and when Houston came in to record her vocal, he was working out of a small apartment.
"Basically, I recorded in an office, next to the bathroom, with some sheets up near the microphone," she says. "It was totally different from doing 'I Will Always Love You' in a beautiful studio, or 'I Learned From the Best' in David's beautiful home. But when I listened to my vocal, it was real, it was passionate-which is most unusual when you're singing next to a bathroom! "I wasn't thinking only in terms of myself," she continues. "I was thinking about other people and other struggles. I thought about becoming a single mother, I thought about my mother, my cousin Dionne, my sisters-in-law. I thought about people with sicknesses, people who triumph in the face of adversity. The simplicity and strength that came out in my singing made me know how strong that song could be for a lot of people."
One of the most welcome elements of I Look to You is hearing Houston reconnecting with the dance floor and delivering uptempo songs with finesse and joy. Even the album's lone cover-Leon Russell's immortal "A Song For You," which has been recorded by greats from Ray Charles to the Carpenters to Donny Hathaway-begins at its traditional, stately pace but then breaks out into a celebratory, irresistible club beat.
Houston says that she enjoyed bringing that side of her singing out again, but that her heart will always be with the slower, more emotional numbers. "I love the uptempo songs, but I'm a balladeer," she says. "I can take a ballad and it gets in my heart, and I can understand where it's coming from."
Most of all, Whitney Houston believes that she is a link in a chain of vocal tradition, and that I Look to You is one more extension of the sounds she was raised with. "I hope that the gospel tradition in my voice-which is just my soul-that it comes out, and that it is heard and felt by those who come after me."
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Whitney Houston 《I Look To You》
自從她灌錄了締造歷史佳績記錄的首張專輯迄今，出道25年的惠妮休斯頓已經成為一位超級巨星，一個傳奇，以及流行樂壇的指標性代表人物。她是史上最暢銷的女歌手之一，她的專輯在全球賣出超過一億四千萬張。當代許多歌手例如Mariah Carey、Christina Aguilera、Jennifer Hudson，以及Leona Lewis 等人，都不約而同的表示自己深受惠妮休斯頓的影響。去年，滾石雜誌更將她評選為「史上百位最偉大的歌手」之一。
但是當他的多年恩師Clive Davis，也是目前Sony音樂集團創意執行長找她回來錄製這張自2002年《Just Whitney》專輯後首張全新專輯時，她卻顯得意興闌珊，缺乏重披歌衫的意圖。
還好，Clive始終堅持找她回來，而成果就是這張耗時將近三年，絕對出色的專輯--《 I Look To You》！這張作品將惠妮和包括R. Kelly、David Foster、Akon、Stargate、Alicia Keys、以及Swizz Beatz等現今最優秀的流行與節奏藍調詞曲創作人和製作人完美結合，聯手打造一系列精彩的歌曲，充分展現她力道十足又充滿豐沛感情的招牌嗓音。專輯的主體概念圍繞在不屈不撓的求生意志，反映出惠妮這位資歷豐富、高知名度的藝人近幾年來親身經歷與體驗的殘酷挑戰，以及所學到的人生教訓。
〈Nothin’ But Love〉是專輯中一首相當重要的歌曲，這首滿載能量充滿律動的舞曲是由Fernando Garibay所製作 (知名作品包括Britney Spears、Lady GaGa等歌手的歌曲) 。惠妮說：「在經過這麼多風風雨雨之後，如果你問我有什麼感觸，我會說至少我還擁有一份愛，不管情況如何，或許是因為我從小就是被如此觀念教育和影響，也或許是我正好走到現在這樣的景況，不過現在的我已經把那些不愉快的過往都拋諸腦後，我正努力往前邁進。」
由R. Kelly譜寫的〈I Look To You〉這首歌，是由專輯的共同製作人Clive引介給惠妮的，儘管當時曲子並不完整但是卻馬上引起她的高度注意。「當我聽了一下，就愛上了這簡短但甜甜的曲子，」她繼續表示：「後來我飛去芝加哥，Robert (R. Kelly本名)告訴我這首歌還沒完成，他還沒寫出第二段歌詞和bridge的部份！於是我們兩個站在錄音室裡，他繼續完成創作。他閉起眼睛找尋靈感，我們相互倚靠著彼此，他哼唱著旋律，我在旁邊默默禱告，於是歌詞就這樣源源不絕的湧現了。」
這首歌由R. Kelly精心打造的歌曲 (R. Kelly還為專輯貢獻了另一首洋溢放客風格的〈Salute〉) ，最後成為專輯的名稱，惠妮很感激Clive了解這首歌的歌詞對於惠妮本人的深刻意義，「當Clive聽到〈I Look To You〉時，因為他知道我的福音背景，所以他明白這首歌鐵定會讓我百分之百滿意，」惠妮如此表示。
即使已經蒐羅了多首製作中的好歌，惠妮始終還不確定找到她真正想要的專輯走向。很意外的，充滿復古迪斯可風味的〈Million Dollar Bill〉的出現，不僅是整張專輯最無心插柳的一刻，更被惠妮視為專輯釀製過程中的重要轉捩點。
另一位21世紀的金曲製造機Akon與惠妮合作了〈Like I Never Left〉一曲，惠妮說Akon是她女兒Bobbi Kristina和她的同學們最愛的歌手之一；「她們都用Akon的歌當手機鈴聲，」惠妮笑著說道。她除了高度讚揚和喜愛這首歌所流露的熱帶島嶼風情，更表示：「當我聽到〈Like I Never Left〉的時後，我甚至覺得可以當我的專輯名稱。」
或許最讓人難忘的錄音場景是灌錄由創作金筆Diane Warren譜寫的抒情曲〈I Didn't Know My Own Strength〉的時候。因為這首歌讓惠妮與製作人David Foster有了再度合作的機會；1992年，David和她一起攜手合作了《The Bodyguard》電影原聲帶--這張迄今依然高居史上最暢銷專輯之一的經典音樂作品。2007年，Daivd在馬里布海灘的家因為遭受加州森林大火侵襲而損毀，所以和惠妮的錄音室移到了他臨時的一間小公寓進行。
「基本上，我是在一間小辦公室裡錄音，旁邊就是廁所，麥克風附近是非常陽春的錄音室配備，」惠妮回憶著說：「這跟以前完全不一樣，〈I Will Always Love You〉是在一間美麗的錄音室完成，而〈I Learned From the Best〉是在David豪華的家裡完成。但當我錄完聽自己的聲音時，覺得好真實、好有感情，沒想到在廁所旁邊唱歌還能唱出這樣的感覺！」
《 I Look To You》專輯中另一個最受人歡迎的元素是可以再度聽到惠妮以高超細膩的技巧和歡愉的態度精湛詮釋快版勁拍舞曲。專輯中的唯一一首老歌新唱是 Leon Russell的不朽經典〈A Song For You 〉，這首曾被Ray Charles、the Carpenters、Donny Hathaway等歌手翻唱過的歌曲，前半段以忠於原味地的慢版開場，不過卻出乎意料的轉換成絕對歡樂、讓人無法抗拒的熱力舞曲節拍。
最重要的是，惠妮休斯頓相信她是流行音樂鏈子中的重要連接點，將重視人聲表現的這項傳統傳承下去，而《 I Look To You》正是延續了她從小到大接觸也最熟悉的歌聲的作品。「我希望我聲音中的福音傳統，也就是我的靈魂，能被新世代的歌手和樂迷聽到而且被感受到。」
中文翻譯來源：SONY MUSIC 西洋部落格