The most touching and highly anticipated performance of the night went to the tribute for the late Whitney Houston, who passed away Feb. 11. It was a welcome contrast from the zebra shaking its backside during LMFAO’s opening performance.
Whoopi Goldberg introduced the tribute, opening with an anecdote: “The first time I met Whitney, she saved my life.” Goldberg was referring to her swift encounter with Houston’s bodyguards, and the friendship that blossomed between her and the singer. Last night Goldberg said, “We’re going to be giving Whitney the greatest love of all.”
John Legend took to the piano to sing Houston’s ballad, while Jordin Sparks—who plays Houston’s daughter in the upcoming film Sparkle—sang “I Will Always Love You,” in a performance that sent Bobbi Kristina Brown into tears. Sparks delivered a solid performance, but it lacked the grit and raw emotion that Jennifer Hudson brought to her rendition of the song at the Grammys just following Houston’s death.
Although there were rumors circulating that Houston’s daughter would be singing in the tribute, Bobbi Kristina Brown instead accepted Billboard’s Millennium Award on behalf of her mother, and delivered a heartfelt speech.
“I just really want to say thank you to everyone who supported us through it all,” she said, standing alongside Whitney’s sister-in-law Patricia Houston. “Not just from when it was good but when it was bad, too. Thank you for showing that love, because she deserved it….I’m just blessed to have been in such an incredible woman’s life. There will never be another one, ever.”