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Legends never die. That’s especially true today since technology has evolved to the point where resurrecting icons of yesteryear takes only some fancy light and graphics work. Reviving deceased superstars in holographic form is nothing new. Tupac stunned the crowd at Coachella a few years back to perform alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, though as it turns out, that wasn’t really so much a hologram as a reflection and some sleight of hand illusion. There was the creepy Michael Jackson hologram performance at the Billboard Awards, singing a song from an album he put out posthumously. Hell, Celine Dion duets with a hologram version of herself, and her heart is still going on.

A world tour centered on the hologram of a dead performer was something the technology hadn’t been employed to create yet, until now. Hologram USA is launching a Whitney Houston hologram world tour in 2016, a show they promise will be highly interactive and feature special guests that will duet alongside that late Houston’s holographic image. Hologram USA CEO Alki David had this to say about the tour in a statement:

“I was heartbroken when Whitney passed away in 2012. The opportunity to share her spectacular gifts with the world again is exactly what I hoped for when I built the hologram business. I’m confident we’ll create the ultimate celebration of Whitney’s amazing artistry.”


Based on sheer spectacle alone, it’s a concept that sparks curiosity and wonder. Whitney Houston is after all one of the biggest musical artists of all time, having a career that spanned decades, monster album sales and timeless classics, all backed by an unmatched talent: her gripping, powerful and transcendent voice. Those who grew up alongside Whitney know of her legacy. Those who came a bit after, where her tragic and well-documented personal struggles started to eclipse the music, most likely remember her as a tabloid figure rather than with nostalgia as a show-stopping performer. Which begs the question: what audience is being targeted by this tour?

Anyone alive during Houston’s prime, with the opportunity to see her live in the flesh, is no doubt scoffing at the idea of paying top dollar to see a hologram version of the icon. Today’s generation, which has grown up with the Taylor Swifts and Ariana Grandes of the pop landscape, are probably apathetic to the idea. When I can blast “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” on Spotify to get the party crooning or can watch Houston’s iconic performance of the National Anthem on YouTube, why would I shell out money to see a pale imitation of a once supernova talent?


It’s interesting that a holographic tour built around Whitney Houston is the first of its kind when you consider that Houston herself was undeniably and unapologetically human. There’s no doubt about it; Houston was flawed. But in a way, her struggles humanized her inhuman talent, leading to the immense support and connection millions of people around the globe bestowed upon and shared with her. We watched Whitney fall and fight her way back to the top. She was never quite able to overcome her demons, but one thing was never in question, until now: her humanity.

Yes, this hologram Whitney Houston will be designed around the singer’s greatest live performances, taking inspiration from her greatest hits and most iconic moments. But the emotion and story that powered those moments can’t be replicated through lights and sounds. It lived within her, and touched her human audience. A hologram can be programmed to mimic Houston’s every move and note, but no amount of tech can get to the heart of the matter.

Houston was beloved for the emotion she could call upon and command in her voice, making her audience feel exactly what she felt in waves of catharsis. This hollow shell of Houston can’t possibly live up to the woman herself. The legacy of Whitney Houston goes beyond her sublime voice; she was an artist who, no matter how much of a diva she could play, had the ability to remain a person through it all, for better or for worse. Nothing’s more relatable or compelling than that.

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