'Glee' Whitney Houston Cover: Star Amber Riley Talks Singing 'I Will Always Love You' At 2012 Grammys
UPDATE: E! News learned on Mon., Feb. 13 that "Glee" producers have decided to dedicate the Feb. 14 episode to Houston with a card in the end credits. "Obviously we could not predict the unfortunately circumstances that happened this weekend but at the same time instead of focusing on the dark stuff, it's nice to have an opportunity to hear her in this way and celebrate the magic that Whitney brought to this industry," "Glee" music supervisor P.J. Bloom told The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday.
On the Valentine's Day episode, entitled "Heart," Mercedes (Amber Riley) sings Houston's legendary track "I Will Always Love You" as she decides between two men in her life: ex Sam (Chord Overstreet) and current boyfriend Shane (LaMarcus Tinker). The "Glee" version hit the internet on Friday. (Listen to Amber Riley sing "I Will Always Love You"here.)
But shortly before the somber 2012 Grammys kicked off, Riley spoke with E! about the experience of covering Houston and, coincidentally, meeting her this past week.
"Whitney's music meant so very much to me. I was very very choked up when I heard about her passing. I just met her this past Thursday," an emotional Riley said. "I've grown up listening to her voice ringing throughout our household. I'm so speechless. I can't believe that she passed."
Riley met Houston at Kelly Price's pre-Grammy party on Thursday, just two days before she died of still unknown causes. "I was really nervous ... I was battling if I wanted to go over there because she is such an icon and she is such an inspiration to me. But I went over there and I thanked her for letting us use her music and entrusting it with us on 'Glee.' And she said, 'What show are you on, baby?'" Riley recalled with a laugh. "I said 'Glee' and she said, 'Oh, you're welcome.' And she rubbed my hand and she said, 'God bless you' and I walked away and I almost started crying."
"Glee" creator Ryan Murphy had been pushing Riley to cover the Houston classic for "such a long time," she said. "It's such a song that's so close to my heart and it's very challenging vocally. [But] I went for it and it's very, I guess, befitting that we're doing it this Tuesday. We were celebrating her in life when we recorded and now, we're celebrating her legacy."
Though Riley said, as far as she knew, the episode will air as it stands, there have been reports that "Glee" will add more of an homage to Houston last-minute in "Heart." "Producers [are] currently considering going back into the episode to pay tribute," The Hollywood Reporter was the first to reveal.
Since Riley interacted with Houston in her final days, E! New's Ken Baker asked the TV star if she noticed any of Houston's reported erratic behavior. "She was very, very sweet to me. I can only see her as 'Mama Whitney.' I can only see her as the beautiful person that I watched on television ... She was very sweet to me. And I'm glad that that's the memory I'm going to hold for the rest of my life."
Tune into "Glee" on Tues., Feb. 14 to see how "Glee" handles the passing of Whitney Houston.