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Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton: R&B Star Almost Didn’t Cover ‘I Will Always Love You’

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Last night’s Grammy Awards centered largely on Whitney Houston, who died Saturday (Feb. 11) at the age of 48, and among the many onstage tributes, Jennifer Hudson‘s version of ‘I Will Always Love You‘ was arguably the most moving. Written by Dolly Parton, the song was Whitney’s trademark, though as CMT.com reminds us, the R&B superstar nearly passed on covering the 1974 country smash.

“When I said to Whitney, ‘You’re gonna sing ‘I Will Always Love You,” the ground shook,” recalled Kevin Costner in 2008. The actor and producer fought to include the song on the soundtrack to the 1992 film ‘The Bodyguard,’ which co-starred Whitney as his love interest.

While Clive Davis, the Arista Records boss who served as Whitney’s longtime friend and mentor, was puzzled by the selection, Kevin knew the heartfelt number would be perfect for the movie — and the singer.

“I said, ‘This is a very important song in this movie,’” Kevin said. “I didn’t care if it was ever on the radio. I didn’t care. I said, ‘We’re also going to do this a cappella at the beginning. I need it to be a cappella because it shows a measure of how much she digs this guy — that she sings without music.’”

Dolly, who said on Saturday that she will “always be grateful and in awe of” Whitney’s performance, first heard the 1992 remake while driving in her car. At first, she told CMT last year, she didn’t recognize her own composition.

“It was just one of those things where [you think], ‘What is that?’” Dolly said. “And, then all the sudden, when she started singing, ‘I will always love you,’ I just about wrecked the car.”

Dolly was also impressed with Jennifer Hudson‘s moving rendition of the iconic song on Sunday’s Grammy Awards.

“I was brought to tears again last night, as I’m sure many were, when Jennifer Hudson sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ on the Grammys in memory of Whitney,” says the country legend. “Like everybody else, I am still in shock. But I know that Whitney will live forever in all the great music that she left behind. I will always have a very special piece of her in the song we shared together and had the good fortune to share with the world. Rest in peace, Whitney. Again, we will always love you.”

Watch Dolly Parton Sing ‘I Will Always Love You’ Live
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Whitney Houston Dies: A Tribute

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