Video by: Canny Maphanga
Are you a Whitney Houston fan? Then you want to read on...
The tribute project, "The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show", which stars South Africa's Belinda Davids, kicks off at Emperors Palace on June 22.
Davids, who has toured the world staring as Whitney in the show, says she is excited to perform at home this year.
"When we started the show, we started it in Joburg in 2013 and we have not been here since because we've been travelling all over the world. I am so excited to finally come back and I know people have been waiting and so have I. It's gonna be lit.
"We have a full live band and about seven costume changes, and we will embody Whitney Houston's stage style. She will also be in the background [in a photo montage] and we will be performing all of her number one hits.
"It's going to be a great show, so if you're a great Whitney fan and loved her as much as I loved her, then you will love the show," she told HuffPost.
Davids beat 15,000 entrants from all over the world to get the part. Speaking about how she got to star in the show, Davids said she hadn't intended to try for the part until a friend secured a place for her in the auditions.
"At the time , I had just given birth and I did not want to do anything. I was breastfeeding, for heaven's sake. My friend called to say she was not taking no for an answer and I needed to go. So I whipped out something from my closet and headed there.
"The audition round was done and I was the last person they saw. I went in and did a few songs and now we're here, six years later.
The show is the brainchild of Australian director Johnny van Grinsven.
Love For Whitney
Davids said it'd be an understatement to assume that she joined the show because of her love for Whitney.
She said for her, this is the culmination of a life-long connection with Whitney, to whom she pays homage.
"It goes a lot deeper than my love for her. She was the connection to my dream. That girl who taught me how to sing. I have no vocal training and just listened to Whitney, trying to sing like she did, and I still try to sing like she did.
Getting into Character
"To perform comes naturally for me, but to do Whitney does not come naturally. You have to mentally prepare and prepare my body to get into that mode – I've had to study her nuances, all of her hand and arm movements, the technique in her voice and the way she carried a note. I have to embody everything that was Whitney. And it's embodying Whitney, not becoming Whitney. I'm just Belinda Davids paying tribute to Whitney and that is something I stress to everyone.
"In short, preparation is very important for me," Davids told HuffPost.
Davids said that when it comes to shopping for clothes, she often finds she leans more towards clothes that Whitney would wear.
"It's a very thin line between myself and the character because I feel like we had very similar style. When I look at how she dressed and her sense of style, she was comfortable in her ways. In everything she wore, there was a level of comfort.
"So sometimes I do find myself grabbing something and then I think, no, that's too Whitney. Sometimes I take it and other times I don't, and I try to separate myself from that every day," she said.
"Any mother can tell you that it's difficult being away from your kids. It's difficult for me because they are grounded and they keep me humble. At the end of the day, the mindset is that I do it for them and this is what drives me to do what I do. There has to be a balance though when I get home, I have to get out of this [character], the hair and the make-up, and just be mum," she said.
Being fully booked through to 2021, Davids said one of the things she misses about home is the sunshine.
"In all our world tours, when we land, I always find myself in the middle of winter. So I miss home for the sunshine. I also miss how friendly South Africans are. You take that for granted until you're in other countries," she said.
Davids said her best performance in the show so far was at "Showtime at the Apollo" with Steve Harvey.
"I still get chills just thinking about it. It was an incredible performance. I was so nervous as soon as I walked into that theatre, and I don't usually get that nervous. Doing that song, on that stage, where she'd performed previously, was special for me. It was a bucket-list item, which I ticked off," Davids said.
Here's that Apollo performance:
The show takes place at the Theatre of Marcellus at Emperors Palace Casino in Kempton Park, Johannesburg and runs for three weeks.
Tickets are available here from R200.