The hologram market, for all its macabre nature, seems to be working. The Ronnie James Dio tour is about to kick off, the digital ghosts of Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly have their joint trek coming up, and the Frank Zappa experience turned out to be kinda weirdly wonderful. Now we know which musical icon is next in line to return in a combination of lights and mirrors, as a Whitney Houston hologram tour is in the works. Update: The tour will launch in 2020.
The New York Times reports that the Houston estate has struck a new deal with boutique music marketing company Primary Wave Music Publishing, which has opened the floodgates on potential projects involving the late R&B icon. First up will be a hologram, which the estate’s sole executor, Pat Houston, says “has taken precedence over everything.” The plan is to have the recreation of Houston perform all her classic hits backed by her original band, including her brother Gary, Pat’s husband.
The deal itself involved Primary Wave purchasing 50 perfect of the estate’s assets for around $7 million. That includes royalties from music and film, merchandising, and the right to use Whitney Houston’s name and likeness for financial gain.
“Everything is about timing for me,” said Pat Houston. “It’s been quite emotional for the past seven years. But now it’s about being strategic.”
To that end, Primary Wave and the estate are also working on an album of unreleased songs as well as a jukebox musical headed to Broadway. Some of the tracks for the record will be pulled from the sessions for Houston’s 1985 self-titled debut. There’s also been talk of what’s described as “a Vegas-style spectacle.”
All of these projects will aim to revitalize Houston’s image, which was pretty well tarnished by the time she passed away in 2012 at the age of 48. Her struggles with drug addiction had been tabloid fodder for years before eventually leading to her death. Last year’s Whitney documentary, made in conjunction with the estate, took an unflinching look at the downfall of her career.
But Primary Wave’s founder, Larry Mestel, wants to put the focus back on the classic hits. “Whitney was America’s sweetheart,” he said, “and the idea now is to remind people that that is what her legacy is.”