Note from BBT: In the past week, I came across news about the woman with “The Voice”, Whitney Houston, three times this week. So, why is the name of the megastar, who died eight years ago suddenly in the news again? First, she became the first black artist to have three of her albums reach certified diamond status. In the US music industry, a gold album is awarded to artists whose albums reach the half million sales mark. Artists selling one million copies receive platinum certification. The diamond status is awarded to those whose album/CD or whatever other platform reaches the ten million mark, meaning ten times platinum.
Houston accomplished the feat recently when her second album, Whitney, was officially recognized as having surpassed the 10 million mark in sales by the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America. Houston’s sales include recent tallies of sales in the digital music platform. This is big news and tells us just how big Houston’s record-breaking career was. Several white artists had already reached this plateau, but Houston becomes the first black artist to reach this status. Her other certified diamond albums include her 1985 debut album Whitney and her 1992 soundtrack to the film The Bodyguard. The Bodyguard soundtrack leads to her second achievement.
The video of Whitney’s version of the song “I Will Always Love You” recently surpassed the one billion view mark on YouTube, making her only the fourth artist to surpass this mark. It’s funny, but when I first heard the now Houston classic, I had totally forgotten that I had heard this song before. The song was written and first recorded by Pop-Country singer Dolly Parton with the artist singing the song in the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Listening to the two versions of the song is one of the things I love about music. I always say that if an artist can’t do a better version of a song, that artist probably shouldn’t re-do it. Often times, a re-make is so good, it will make you forget about the original version. The memorable Luther Vandross made a name for himself with this. I mean, whodathunk someone could take a classic Pop standard by a group like The Carpenters and turn it into a Soul classic?
In Whitney’s case, her song is obviously a huge Pop music production, but I also like Parton’s sentimental, more simple version. Interestingly, Dolly took this song to number one on the Country Music charts twice, once in 1974 and again in 1982, a rare feat for a song. There have been other versions of the song as well. Houston was actually inspired to do her version after hearing a rendition by singer Linda Ronstadt. The Houston version would go on to sell 20 million copies, making it the biggest-selling single by a female artist in music history. The Whitney version remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts for a then record 14 straight weeks.
The third piece of news about Whitney is that she will inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. While she was alive, I liked some of Houston’s music, but I can’t say I was a fan of all of it. Some of her music was just a bit too much on the schmaltzy, elevator music tip. Whitney faced backlash from the US black community who accused of her of trying to “sound white”. The criticism reached its heights during the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards when part of the audience at the show began to boo Houston, a sign of a growing rejection of the singer by black music fans questioning her authenticity as a black artist. In some circles, people thought she should have been known as “Whitey Houston”, a problematic criticism for an artist that would become the most awarded singer in music history.
Even though I’m not a fan of all of Houston’s music, as I pointed out after her death in 2012, I still think her record-breaking career is very important as a black artist. In an American music industry that has long discriminated against black artists, the success of Houston showed the heights that a black artist could reach when given the opportunity, promoted correctly and having a powerful music machine behind him or her.
Houston’s success could probably never be attained by a Brazilian artist for several reasons. One, English is a global language that dominates the world and with the powerful, although waning influence of the United States, in so many genres on the world stage, it would be difficult for a non-English speaking artist to reach such heights. For this reason, many Brazilian artists have and are recording songs in English with hopes of reaching a global market. Recently, singer Anitta debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart when her song “Me Gusta” recorded with Cardi B and Myke Towers debuted on the American Pop music chart at number 90. The accomplishment makes Anitta the 8th Brazilian artist to make the US Pop chart, the other artists being Sérgio Mendes, João Gilberto, Corona, Cansei de Ser Sexy, Michel Teló, Claudia Leitte and Nego do Borel. (The Voice Kids Brasil Wins By a Teen & Earns nickname: Whitney’s son)
It’s clear that there are a lot of talented Brazilian artists out there and a few weeks ago I became aware of a talented young man who some fans began to dub “Whitney Houston’s Son”. It’s been a while since I’ve featured a story about the Brazilian version of music reality show The Voice, but when I heard teenage singer Kauê Penna, I knew I had to talk about him. It was big news in black Brazilian news circles a few weeks back when Penna floored fans and judges with his renditions of a number of songs. It’s funny and maybe I’m wrong but it seems that Brazilian artists often make names for themselves by singing popular American songs. Not all, but a significant number. I wonder if current popular singer IZA would have attracted so much attention and a record deal if she hadn’t sang a number of American hits on her YouTube channel.
But obviously it’s not enough just to record American songs. One has to have the chops to pull it off and do it well. Penna most definitely accomplished this with his versions of classic songs by Stevie Wonder, The Manhattans and also, perhaps most impressively, Whitney Houston. Brazilian singers often re-record American songs in Portuguese and the American covers by Penna fit into this category. Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” was remade with Portuguese lyrics and is known most by the Gal Costa version of the song re-titled “Nada Mais”. This is also the case with The Manhattans song “Forever by Your Side” which became “Pra Sempre Vou Te Amar” in the voices of numerous artists, perhaps most known in the version by Robinson Monteiro. (The Voice Kids Brasil Wins By a Teen & Earns nickname: Whitney’s son)
Back in February, viewer’s were already blown away with “Whitney’s son”, as was reported on the Observatório da TV website:
“Kauê Penna, a member of Carlinhos Brown’s team, stole the scene and caught the attention of viewers. In the audience of the musical reality show, every time Penna sang, he heard screams and then, when it was time Carlinhos to choose, Kauê’s name was shouted. On social media, the boy’s name ended up among the most talked about subjects.
“My God, now it’s Kauê, aka Whitney’s son. You’ve won, period,” joked an internet user. “Kauê is already champion and whoever disagrees, disagrees at home,” said another. “Kauê is completely perfect, the way he sings the music, the interpretation, the diction. Gente? Whatever,” praised a third.
@TH0NYPS: “MY GOD, NOW IT’S KAUÊ, AKA WHITNEY’S SON. HE ALREADY WON, PERIOD #TheVoiceKids
Sem Identidade@SemIdentidadeGV: Kaue, Whitney Houston’s son reaching the final to get the check and the winner’s trophy. #TheVoiceKids”
In the case of the Whitney Houston classics, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” and “Run To You”, Penna sang the classics in their original English versions. I don’t know what’s happened, but when I first started listening to Brazilian music two decades ago, I don’t remember hearing many Brazilian artists that sang like this. Of course, people always point to the legendary Elis Regina who was named the second greatest Brazilian singer behind only Tim Maia by Rolling Stone Brasil magazine. Maia, of course, is famous for introducing American Soul music into the Brazilian music catalog. In 2018, when I saw the musical ELZA, it again struck me that nowadays, there are quite a few Brazilian artists who ain’t just singing, they SANGIN’!
Globo TV doesn’t allow much of its productions to be shown fully in YouTube, but you can get a small taste of Kauê Penna in the clips below. I hope he gets a chance to shine because artists who win on reality shows don’t always hit it big. Let’s see what happens.
With 50.50% of the votes, Kauê Penna is the big winner of The Voice Kids
Young artist will take BRL 250,000 home and sign a contract with Universal Music
By Ranyelle Andrade
The fifth season of The Voice Kids came to an end on Sunday (10/11) crowning Kauê Pena as champion. The little one, guided by Carlinhos Brown, disputed the public’s preference with Maria Eduarda Ribeiro and Paulo Gomiz, from the teams of Mumuzinho and Simone and Simaria, respectively. He won with 50.50% of the votes.
In addition to taking the BRL 250 thousand home, Kauê will sign a contract with Universal Music and will be able to enjoy the visibility provided by the program.
In today’s final, the 14-year-old started singing the song Nada Mais, a version of Lately, by Stevie Wonder, re-recorded with Portuguese lyrics by Ronaldo Basto, and impressed the judges. “He is a boy blessed by God, he has a light, a voice. We are even speechless,” praised Simaria.
For the performance with coach Carlinhos Brown, Kauê chose Saúde, eternalized in the voice of Rita Lee. In the second stage of presentations, the young artist interpreted “Pra Semper vou Te Amar”, by Robinson Monteiro.
The boy caught the attention of the judges at auditions by singing Whitney Houston’s “Run to You”. During the Battles phase, he shared the stage with Giovanna de Luca and Milena Schmitz. The trio sang “Pra Semper Vou te Amar”, and Kauê was chosen to continue in the competition.
Even from home, the resident of São João de Meriti, a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro, impressed in the live performances with “Listen”, by singer Beyoncé. In the semifinal, the teenager showed his talent with “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, by Whitney Houston.
In 2020, the attraction faced some setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic. The musical reality was paralyzed for six months and only returned on September 13. In order to avoid the proliferation of the new disease, children’s presentations became virtual.