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Whitney Houston Ready For Comeback, Clive Davis Says

February 6, 2009 4:18 PM ET

Whitney Houston is on the comeback trail, record industry icon Clive Davis told MTV yesterday during rehearsals for his pre-Grammy gala. According to Davis, Houston was expected to rehearse last night for a special performance at the event, which is always a blockbuster affair — it's where Davis unveiled Alicia Keys and Leona Lewis. Davis also insisted that Houston, whose last album of original material was 2002's Just Whitney, is ready to return to the spotlight.

"You wait for the great songs to be written," Davis said of Houston's hiatus. "The great hits Whitney has given to the public for so many years — you keep encouraging and setting the bar. R. Kelly and Whitney just went into the studio with a great song called 'I Look to You.' " Davis is credited with discovering Houston, so the singer's reclamation project is especially meaningful to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who also signed artists like Aerosmith, Janis Joplin and Donovan over his long storied career.

(Check out Rolling Stone's February 2008 Clive Davis profile "The Last Record Man.")

Davis hinted at another new Houston song, a David Foster-produced ballad entitled "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." Foster also co-wrote Houston's "I Have Nothing" from The Bodyguard soundtrack and helped produce her 1998 album My Love is Your Love.

"The same way her debut album took a while to put together, you just don't do it by going into a computer. You wait for the material to justify a new album," Davis said. "Pretty much, it's come in." Rock Daily will be at Clive Davis' gala tonight in Los Angeles, so make sure to check our Grammy hub to find out whether or not Houston makes a grand comeback.

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Clive Davis' Biggest Hits: The Legendary Record Man With His Famous Artists

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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