In a case of serendipitous timing, tonight’s Valentine’s Day episode of Glee will feature a tribute to Whitney Houston! Entitled Heart, the episode, which was shot months before Whitney’s death, features Mercedes, played by Amber Riley, singing the late singer’s signature song, “I Will Always Love You.”
And while Jennifer Hudson‘s recent rendition of the pop ballad at the Grammy Awards was particularly moving, Amber does the song justice as well, as evidenced by this recording. (Listen to it here.)
Even more striking is the fact that Amber had only met Whitney a few days before her passing at a pre-Grammy party:
“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?’” she told E!. “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.”
Reportedly, Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator, had been pushing Amber to record the song for “such a long time,” she added.
“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.“
After learning of Whitney’s death this past weekend, Glee‘s producers also added a title card at the end of the episode in memory of the 48-year-old music icon.
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