Your winning performance for BBC ONE’s Even Better than the Real Thing was incredible. What made you decide to audition for The Greatest Love of All? What can you tell us about the show?
A friend submitted me to the producer last minute. I’ve sung professionally since I was 14 but at the time I was in a lull as far as singing went and then this popped up and I can’t help thinking it was just meant to be. I knew how much I wanted it by how terribly nervous I was, even as a professional singer who has sung – and been compared to - Whitney my whole life!
How do you get ready for the show? In your preparation, what is the difference between performing Whitney Houston's songs and actually performing as Whitney Houston? Do you have to approach your preparation differently?
I worked day and night and absorbed EVERYTHING Whitney when I first prepared for this role. I had to learn every little natural hand gesture and head movement that was Whitney-esque, on top of emulating her voice and vocal traits. Now it is the act of putting on the makeup and wig and costuming that takes me to that place, it’s like a trigger or cue that puts me in Whitney mode.
What influence did Whitney Houston have in your musical life and aspirations, and what do you think her music and story can offer young performers, in particular?
Here was a woman who broke ground and was inspirational in becoming as pervasive and popular and successful as she was, particularly for women of colour. And this is on top of her actual god given talent as a singer. She can inspire in so many ways, but the biggest thing is that she is proof that anything is possible.
How has your perspective on music and music-making changed after being involved so intensely in The Greatest Love of All for the past four years?
For a show like this it is all about the team. There are so many people around me that make this show what it is and allow me to focus on putting out my best performances. And also if you sing what you love it’s a true joy, a blessing to be able to work in this industry.
Many of our readers are young musicians on the cusp of their careers. What advice can you offer them as they forge their own musical paths?
It’s clichéd but just don’t give up. There will be struggle – I guarantee it! – but you need to focus and forge through. No one who’s successful will ever turn around and say ‘oh it was a breeze’, they say ‘I ate beans for a year and I lived out of my car and never got any sleep and everyone doubted me’ because it’s true, but IT DIDN’T STOP THEM!
Belinda Davids stars in The Greatest Love of All - The Whitney Houston Show touring Australia from January 9. Book tickets and find out more here.