Review: Whitney – Queen Of The Night, Grand Opera House, York, November 30

SHANICE Smith takes to the stage, paying affectionate tribute to America’s Prom Queen of Soul in Whitney – Queen Of The Night.

A BRIT School Champion, like Adele and Leona Lewis before her, she ambitiously attempts to emulate the style and spirit of Whitney Houston’s legendary act. This is no small feat; Houston wasn’t known as "The Voice" for nothing, but Smith not only delivers, she excels.

Re-creating the musical arrangements from Houston’s live shows, Smith’s bright and breathy performance hits every note perfectly, imbuing every song with tremendous energy.

Unlike a lot a tribute acts, however, she makes no attempt to assume the character of the performer she is paying tribute to. Houston may be her inspiration, but this remains firmly Smith’s show, preventing her own considerable talents from being overshadowed and allowing her a personal connection to the audience that would otherwise be absent.

This is best demonstrated by her rendition of I Will Always Love You – a song so intrinsically linked to Houston that she is more closely associated with it than its writer, Dolly Parton – which serves as a jaw-dropping example of Smith’s own vocal power and skill.

Whitney – Queen Of The Night is quite simply stunning. From the powerful vocals to the visuals and the tremendous passion on display, Shanice Smith’s celebration of Whitney Houston’s music and career is both exciting and touching in equal measure.

Robert McKelvey