"The Wait Is Over!" shouted the official press release this morning: After a six-year absence from the studio, Whitney Houston will return with a new album on September 1st, 2009. The as-yet-untitled Arista release will be Houston's seventh studio record since she made her debut in 1985 with a self-titled album stocked with Number One hits including "Greatest Love of All," "How Will I Know" and "Saving All My Love for You." Her last album of original studio recordings was 2002's Just Whitney, which was followed in 2003 by a Christmas record titled One Wish: The Holiday Album and a greatest-hits compilation. During the ensuing years, Houston became known more for her bizarre antics with then-husband Bobby Brown on their reality show Being Bobby Brown and rumors about a drug problem she had addressed in a special edition of ABC's Primetime with Diane Sawyer.
Houston's most recent public performance came at her mentor Clive Davis' annual Grammy party in February of this year. Before the event, Davis announced Houston was ready for her comeback: "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." While there's no word on the track list for Whitney's September record, Davis had mentioned she was stepping into the studio with R. Kelly to record a song titled "I Look to You" and spoke about a Diane Warren-penned ballad producer by David Foster called "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." Swizz Beatz told Rap-Up he produced an uptempo titled "Mill Dollar Bill" for the LP, and an Akon duet called "Like I Never Left" leaked last year.
When Houston took the stage at Davis' party in a tight leopard-print dress, stars like Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson bolted for the front row for a close look at the diva's performance of "I Believe In You and Me," "It's Not Right, But It's Okay" and "I'm Every Woman." Houston's last tour of the U.S. was 1999's "My Love Is Your Love World Tour," which supported the 1998 album of the same name. In October 2006 Houston filed for divorce from Brown, and in February 2007 their split was finalized, with Houston receiving custody of daughter Bobbi Kristina.