By MARIA SHERMAN
AP Music Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — This year Whitney Houston would have turned 60, and a special celebration to raise money for a good cause is being planned for her birthday. Houston’s estate, Sony and Primary Wave Music will host the 2nd annual Whitney Houston Legacy of Love on Aug. 9, which will benefit the late singer’s foundation aimed at helping young people.
Houston’s close friends BeBe Winans and Kim Burrell will perform at the gala at Atlanta’s St. Regis Hotel, as will Whitney’s brother, Gary, who toured with her for three decades.
“When I turned 50, Whitney gave me two celebrations — one in Ireland and one in London. I always tell everyone now that one of them was for her,” says Pat Houston, Whitney Houston’s sister-in-law and the executor of her estate. Houston died in February 2012 at age 48. “This year is Whitney at 60 — we’re all looking forward to being a part of the power of love in that room.”
Houston found the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children in 1989 with the goal of empowering youth, providing resources to unhoused children, giving out college scholarships, and raising funds for charities like the Children’s Defense Fund and St. Jude Children’s Research.
A charity auction will raise money for the foundation, which is now called the Whitney E. Houston Legacy Foundation.
“We’re going to auction off a beautiful lavender dress Dolly Parton wore when she sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Country Music Television’s ‘100 Greatest Love Songs of Country Music’ special in 2004,” says Pat Houston. “This dress is particularly special because it’s lavender, and lavender is Whitney’s favorite color.”
The song, originally written by Parton, was recorded by Houston and became one of her great, everlasting hits. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it diamond early last year, which means the track has sold and streamed 10 million equivalent units in the United States. It became her first diamond single, and made Houston the third woman to ever achieve diamond-status with both a single and an album, following Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift.
Clive Davis will serve as honorary chairman. Recording Academy President Harvey Mason jr. is scheduled to attend. Also expected are Gamma’s Larry Jackson and Whitney Houston’s musical director Rickey Minor.
“I always tell people, Whitney is the star,” Pat Houston said. “Everybody in that room is royalty, but she’s loyalty — and she’s still showing that.”