Seven years after Whitney Houston’s death, the late icon’s estate is reportedly planning a hologram tour and posthumous album set for release in the near future.
According to The New York Times, Pat Houston — Whitney’s sister-in-law, estate executor, and former manager — has laid out an extensive plan to reinvigorate the diva’s brand, including a compilation of previously unreleased tracks from the 1985 album Whitney Houston and a traveling concert series using advanced technology to bring the singer’s likeness to stages around the world.
“The hologram has taken precedence over everything,” Pat told the Times, adding that the under-development hologram will perform hits like “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “The Greatest Love of All” while original band members and backup singers (including Whitney’s brother and Pat’s husband, Gary) provide background support.
According to a press release from BASE Hologram, which has mounted hologram tours featuring Roy Orbison, Maria Callas, and Buddy Holly, the planned event will launch in early 2020 under the title An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour, and will be directed by Dreamgirls choreographer Fatima Robinson.
The Times further indicates the estate recently signed a $14 million deal with Primary Wave Music Publishing — a boutique music and marketing company based in New York City that also recently acquired Bob Marley’s catalog for redistribution — in an attempt to revive Whitney’s image across several branding deals and music-focused projects. As part of the deal, Primary Wave acquired 50 percent of the estate’s assets, including royalties from Whitney’s music, films, and merchandising, as well as retaining the right to exploit her likeness, which it reportedly intends to explore spreading across branded partnerships and other commercial endeavors.
“Before she passed, there was so much negativity around the name; it wasn’t about the music anymore,” Pat told the Times of the decision to release new tracks from the Whitney vault. “People had forgotten how great she was. They let all the personal things about her life outweigh why they fell in love with her in the first place.”
Primary Wave founder Larry Mestel also told the publication he had entered discussions with various Broadway producers about bringing a Whitney-themed musical to stage, though the company would have to partner with Sony — owner of Whitney’s recordings — to do so.
Representatives for Sony did not immediately return EW’s request for comment on the Times‘ report.
Though it has been presented with similar opportunities to bring Whitney’s image back to life in the past — including a stalled partnership with Hologram USA, announced in 2015 — the Houston estate teamed with director Kevin Macdonald for an intimate peek into the singer’s life via his Cannes-debuting 2018 documentary Whitney. The film featured candid interviews with members of Whitney’s family and inner circle, including her mother, Cissy Houston, and ex-husband, fellow recording artist Bobby Brown, with whom she had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, who died in 2015.
Houston died in 2012 at age 48 following a years-long struggle with addiction. Her last full-length album, I Look to You, debuted nearly one decade ago in 2009. It was certified platinum in the United States for shifting over 1 million units in the country. She is estimated to have sold over 200 million records worldwide since launching her pop music career in 1985.