San Rafael producer remembers Whitney

February 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Bay Area has a special connection to Whitney Houston. She recorded several of her hits at a studio in San Rafael with a Grammy award winning producer.

Narada Michael Walden has owned and operated Tarpan studios for 26 years. He's worked with, in his words, "all the divas:" Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and of course Whitney Houston, who he calls his sister and friend.

"This microphone is called SM7. This was her microphone that we used on her because this microphone could capture her power and not distort," said Walden.

Walden says it was in his San Rafael studio where Whitney Houston recorded some of her most famous songs. "How Will I Know" was their first project together and Walden was blown away.

"When I first got with her she was this thin, skinny girl. 'There's a boy, I know. He's the one' Just power! You go, 'What the hell?' She would go back and listen to it, just lay back in the chair very cool, very confident. Diva," said Walden.

Like everyone else, Walden was shocked to hear about Houston's death. In addition to "How Will I Know", their No. 1 hits included "I Wanna Dance with Somebody", "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go".

He says Houston's confidence is what made her so easy to work with.

"A lot of artists don't like the sound of their voice. They're put off by it. Whitney would listen to her playbacks and love the sound of her voice. That makes it easy to make a smash because you don't have to psychologically deal with someone and pep them up about how they innately sound. She loved what came out of her body," said Walden.

Walden won a Grammy for producing "I'm Every Woman" on "The Bodyguard" soundtrack. But his personal favorite was "One Moment in Time". He won an Emmy for producing it and believes it was one of Houston's best vocal performances on record.

Walden says he is grateful for having worked with one of the greatest of all time. He says god is taking care of her now.

"I want to say for all of us who are still on this Earth, to rejoice in her music and to rejoice in her great offerings, because there will be no one else ever like her, ever," said Walden.

Walden says he last saw Houston this time last year. He has yet to hear about when her memorial will be. He says he would like to attend.


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