Sure, the boys of “American Idol” are nervous about tackling a singer as iconic as Stevie Wonder during the Top 13 performance show — but imagine how much more pressure the girls are facing as they cover the recently deceased legend Whitney Houston.
Joshua Ledet tells Zap2it, “I’m really excited and nervous at the same time [about the show] just because we’re singing Stevie Wonder. He’s a great artist and you really can’t do too much of his music because you can’t change up his music just out of respect.”
“Same with Whitney,” Skylar Laine interjects, and Hollie Cavanagh agrees: “How do you think we feel about Whitney Houston?!”
Respecting and honoring Houston’s memory are the top priority of the finalists, they all tell Zap2it. Laine, who wasn’t as familiar with Houston’s catalog as most of her competitors, says she feels a sense of responsibility in covering someone so revered.
“I didn’t grow up listening to Whitney Houston,” Laine says, “[but] I respect her so much. Her greatest song ever was written by Dolly Parton, a country artist, so Whitney’s kind of close to me in that way. I grew up listening to, like, outlaw country, old country, but I still respect her as an artist. She’s amazing. Nobody can get as good as she is. It’s just incredible.”
Even though Houston’s music isn’t necessarily Erika Van Pelt‘s usual style, she thinks she’s come up with a cool arrangement with her own spin on a classic Whitney song.
“She’s a legend in the industry,” Van Pelt says. “She’s one of the biggest voices of our time, so saying it’s a challenge is the understatement of the century. It’s not really my style, necessarily, so it’s out of the box for me. I’m not the same type of singer as Jessica Sanchez or Hollie Cavanagh where it’s that nice sort of clear pop-urban kind of sound. That’s not me.”
She continues: “I have a different sort of thing going on and it is a challenge for me, but I’ve been working really hard to get it going. I worked with the band to find an arrangement that suits me so I don’t feel like I’m mimicking Whitney. Instead I’m honoring her, paying tribute by doing very much my own version of the song.”
Elise Testone wasn’t familiar with her Houston song until producers suggested it to her a few days ago, so she’s hoping her performance goes smoothly. “I chose a different song originally, and then when I brought it in they thought maybe that wasn’t the right song for me so they gave me a new song which I only learned a few days ago,” she reveals.
“So I was just getting comfortable with it. Rehearsing [Tuesday] I feel a lot better. … I really want to sing the song as naturally as I possibly can and really bring justice to a Whitney song, which is a huge challenge, and hopefully everyone will see who I am and that will shine through.”