Monday February 13, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Eileen Tierney remembers a night, 21 years ago, when 27-year-old pop diva Whitney Houston took the stage at Tanglewood.

"An amazing night and memories," Tierney posted on her Facebook page early Sunday. "So glad some of us saw [her] in concert."

Houston, 48, died Saturday afternoon in her suite on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hills Hotel. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said an investigation is ongoing.

The death has cast a somber pall on the Grammy Awards set for tonight. Houston was expected to perform at a pre-Grammy party in Los Angeles; instead, she will be the focus of a musical tribute to be performed by singer/actress Jennifer Hudson at the awards ceremony.

Fellow pop songstress Mariah Carey Tweeted Sunday morning that, "She will never be forgotten as one of the greatest voices to ever grace the Earth."

Tierney, a former Berkshire County resident now residing in New Jersey, recalled a steaming July night in 1991 when Houston leapt up on stage amid a dizzying array of more than 300 lights on a set that was designed by the same engineers, Mark Fisher and Jonathan Park, who had built the famed "Urban Jungle" set for the Rolling Stones.

It was the only Berkshire performance of Houston's career, although the talented daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston traversed New England several times later in her career and performed a number of times at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York.

Seth Rogovoy, the pop music critic for The Eagle at the time, was effusive in his praise for Houston's voice that night, praising her "ineffable vocal skills" and Houston's "abundance of talent and class."

Rogovoy was, at times, however, less than impressed with some of Houston's fluffier pop songs and their stage production, noting that some of the tunes bordered on "lame." But the show, overall, got a "thumbs up."

Rogovoy's comments were echoed by critics across the country, virtually of whom praised Houston's abilities, but were less enthused about the blowout glitziness of some of the show.

The 1991 shows were called the "I'm Your Baby Tonight World Tour." It was one of the most extensive tours in Houston's career, encompassing 73 North American shows and 28 more in Europe and Japan. The shows were in support of her quadruple-platinium album of the same name.

"She did spine-tingling like nobody's business," noted Sheela Clary of Great Barrington in a Facebook post.

Houston opened every show on her North American tour with "I Want To Dance With Somebody" from her second studio album, "Whitney." The tune won a Grammy and was named "Favorite Rock Single" at the 15th Annual American Music Awards.

The show ended with, not surprisingly, "I'm Your Baby Tonight," with "The Greatest Love of All," as the encore.